Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Groove is in the Heart

Monday, April 02, 2007

Groove is in the Heart

I returned home safe and sound yesterday afternoon from my little weekend trip back in time.

Friday I called my coworker and told her I wanted to give myself the day off so I could leave in the afternoon with Lisa, my neighbor, and her husband Rob for the weekend. After receiving her blessing, I began to search for something to wear to the 1970s theme party. I found a pale pink, silk peasant blouse in my closet. I have never once worn the dang thing because it has some little sequins on it and some flowing sleeves. It just never seemed appropriate. Next, I tried on a pre-Erik black skirt that laced up the back, and it actually fit comfortably! If that's not a good way to begin the weekend, I don't know what is. Lisa then arrived to take me on my very first trip to the little purple house on the main drag that serves as our friendly neighborhood adult bookshop selling costumes and novelties, where a pair of black knee-high go-go boots in my size waited for me. Lisa's feet are smaller (quel surprise), and she was able to buy a rather fetching, faux patent leather pair. This particular store is another entry in itself, but I'll save that for later. I will mention, though, that I found it impossible to ignore the jaunty six-foot high inflatable phallus smiling at me from the corner of the room while I sifted through cheap 1970s-style clothing on a nearby rack. The two very sweet young girls working the counter encouraged me to try on some of their costumes, but being Amazonian in stature, nothing fit very well. After leaving with my new footwear, we stopped at the tavern on the way home for a small plate of nachos and something to wet our whistles while we waited for Rob to get off work. The three of us then left town, stopping briefly at a small costume shop in the next town to pick up Rob's Starsky and Hutch-type attire.

Calvin, Rob's coworker from two decades ago, lives in the city where the party was to be held, and he invited us to stay at his house. Lisa and Rob have known Calvin for years. He is a man in his early 60s who lives alone in a neat two-story house that is a trip back in time in itself. The home is extremely inviting and clean for a bachelor pad, filled with vases of fresh flowers, dated but cared for furniture, and shag carpet. There were two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, where we unpacked our belongings. Calvin barbecued juicy chicken breasts and served them with a cool shrimp pasta salad, steamed vegetables, and fresh grapes. We enjoyed dinner and some time on the back patio next to an ancient, slightly leaky hot tub adorned with green patio lights shaped like jumping trout. The smell of plant life and rich dirt, which is less than detectable at home during a high desert winter, filled my nose. The grass was almost fluorescent green, and giant, fluffy primroses lined neatly-tended flowerbeds around us. Lisa and I took it easy after dinner. I enjoyed one Crown Royal and Diet Pepsi before I retired but heard Rob and Calvin visit late into the night. I slept fitfully off and on. When I got out of bed, everyone was up in their pajamas enjoying coffee in the living room watching the morning news. Calvin and Rob looked a little rough around the edges. In fact, Calvin looked a little green around the gills all day long. Rob shook off his hangover long enough to beg me to accompany him to the yard sale being set up a couple houses down. Lisa, Rob, and I wandered down to check it out, and I bought a slightly rusty Tonka articulated front loader for Erik to play with outside (my husband taught me that term; I am really getting to know my heavy equipment these days).

Lisa and I ran errands all afternoon. We hit the Goodwill store with her mother and niece before going out on our own to the department store for white eyeshadow and pantyhose. I bought silk daisies on bobby pins to put in my hair and some pastel beads. We joined Lisa's friend Holly for lunch at a teriyaki joint for Love Love salads, something Lisa said I was required to try -- hot strips of teriyaki chicken on a bed of greens slathered in some warm, sweet peanut dressing. Holly was a bit aloof when I met her. She was dressed in an expensive jogging suit and had unnaturally white teeth, peach-colored, acrylic nails, and gorgeous, dark hair. I hid my hands under the table, feeling instantly frumpy in my sweatshirt and jeans. I silently cursed myself for forgetting to dye the gray roots showing in my own hair before I left. She asked us if we could help decorate the country club for her husband's party. Lisa and I agreed. We picked up giant, sparkly Mylar balloons at the party store and drove through pouring rain to the country club, a gorgeous expanse of emerald green with restaurant and lounge overlooking it all. To my surprise, I was told that Holly had rented the entire club, including the restaurant and lounge, for her husband's 50th birthday party. Holly offered to get us something to drink. I ordered a Lynchburg lemonade and let Holly instruct me on what she wanted me to do. Slowly but surely, she began to warm up to me. I threw myself into tacking old record covers on the walls and decorating the tables with vinyl LPs, tiny, battery-powered lava lamps that changed colors every few seconds, and shiny confetti. Lisa prepared each table with red, yellow, and purple linens. The staff swirled around us, working just as hard and joking with us. Rob and Jeff, Holly's husband/birthday boy, came to snap the dance floor together. The DJ arrived and began setting up lights and his table. We installed battery-powered mirrored balls everywhere, including the ladies' loo. Everything looked quite groovy by the time we were finished. Holly looked relieved, and I flashed the most reassuring smile I could muster as we left the building. She smiled back.

After running back to Calvin's to slip into our costumes and coat ourselves with eyeliner and Aqua Net hairspray (I LOVE that stuff), we returned to the club and began to mingle with the guests. Trays of meatballs, spring rolls, won tons, vegetables, cheese, and crackers were served in the lobby. Many of the older guests, including Calvin, left after an hour or two, when the lights dimmed and the music started pumping loudly from the stereo. Girls dressed in 1970s attire cruised the party room and adjacent bar with silver trays of tiny plastic cups containing shots of Jell-O in every color infused with tasteless alcohol. I declined the first round but accepted one that was given to me the next time they passed by. It was blue and tasted like raspberries. Not bad.

Almost every one of the approximately 200 partygoers was dressed to the hilt for the occasion. There were short, pleated skirts, gold chains, bell bottom pants, and feathered hair. I saw many pairs of boots just like mine. I told one girl she looked like Sharon Stone in the movie Casino when we were introduced, and she giggled and blushed. Holly looked remarkably like Marlo Thomas. I was accepted into this group as if they had known me for years. I mostly very quietly watched the festivities and sipped water, but when a very bored Rob offered me a shot of Jagermeister, I accepted that, too. It was disgustingly tepid but still tasty. After another, it was back to water and a couple dances out on the floor. Finally, Lisa and I decided to call a taxi and head back into town for our beds around 11 o'clock. We shared a cab with a couple of older partygoers that knew Lisa for a very interesting jaunt home. After some confusion over Calvin's address, our cab driver informed us he was deaf and argued with Lisa as the older passenger went on and on in a loud, obnoxious rant. I decided the ride could go either way. At first, I expected the cab driver to drop us off in the country and tell us to find our own way home, but his crotchedy demeanor lifted, and he laughed at the older man's lame jokes. I still couldn't wait to get out of that car. When we snuck back into the unlocked door of Calvin's house and up the stairs, I felt like I was 16 all over again.

Rob ended up staying at his friend Tim's house. I was happy when I woke up feeling fairly refreshed, although I probably got about six hours of sleep between Friday and Saturday night combined. I waited for Lisa to get out of bed while I chatted with Calvin over coffee about his life, which I enjoyed immensely. He told me about his time as an MP in the army and his time working at a sugar beet plant. When Lisa came downstairs, we ate the delicious breakfast Calvin cooked for us and then went to pick up Rob. We pulled up in front of a gigantic mini-mansion on the golf course. Lisa pulled the dinner plate-sized knocker away from the giant door and tapped it several times, giggling. A very sleepy-looking Tish (Sharon Stone from the party) answered the door in a teal-colored jogging suit. She led us through a cavernous foyer with a gigantic round table and monstrous glass centerpiece on it into a massive kitchen with at least 10-foot high ceilings where they weren't vaulted even higher. I tried not to look like a hick from the sticks, but my mouth was slightly agape as I took a seat at the breakfast bar next to a very sick-looking Rob drinking beer and tomato juice. Two pairs of high heels were parked neatly atop the bar amongst a collection of cell phones and 1970s accessories accidentally abandoned by their intoxicated owners. The party had apparently ended at 4 a.m. there. Lisa handed Rob a fresh shirt and Levis, and I looked down to see he was still wearing brown bell bottoms. Tish took us on a tour of their home with their fluffy, perfectly groomed bichon frise quietly following us from room to room. We followed Tish through the main floor and then up and down three separate staircases to peek into a cardio room, a mirrored gym/putting room featuring a floor of AstroTurf with recessed cups to capture rolling golf balls, a temperature-controlled wine cellar with a bistro table and walls of expensive wine, a laundry room as large as my dining room with granite countertops, an entertainment room featuring an air hockey table, big screen television, and pillowy sectional, and many other sitting rooms and bedrooms. A painting of the bichon frise at our heels hung in one sitting room, white head slightly tilted quizzically to the side. I lost count at five bathrooms and ten televisions. The back yard had miniature hedges clipped into neat shapes snaking through the grass and an exercise pool. What was most incredible of all, however, was that the people living there were some of the nicest people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Tim, well over six feet tall and painfully handsome with a perfect blond mustache and a head of thick, blond hair, reluctantly left with his hangover to meet his friends for an early tee time. He hugged me goodbye and as he walked down the massive hallway, we all laughed because his perfectly pressed, chino coated backside sported a mysterious wet spot. Tish shrugged and said, "Oh well. It'll dry."

We said our goodbyes and loaded into the car, stopping to retrieve our luggage at Calvin's house. I guessed he enjoyed our company immensely but would be happy to have his old peace and quiet back. As we pulled away, he stooped to pull some weeds in his shady flower garden. Rob burped and I rolled down the window as the wave of beer-scented air rolled forward. Lisa and I laughed. He groaned and laid down in the back seat while we chatted on the way home, stopping once to use the facilities and once to buy ice cream sandwiches and Kettle Chips. Rob didn't move.

It's good to be home, although this place looks much smaller to me now. The cat screamed the whole time I was gone, and Erik has gotten taller in two days. His vocabulary seems to have doubled. Brian thanked him for doing something last night and we heard him say, "Welcome," as he wandered away.

I wouldn't give up this life for all of the money in the world.

Photos are forthcoming. I was without my digital camera, so I need to run to Costco with the disposable I used.

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Blogger Kerry said...

Cool - I felt like I was there, thank you very much! I can't wait to see your pics, they must be a sight! So glad you went and had a good time:)

4:23 PM  
Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

Great story! I, too, believe there is no place like home. If you ever need a reality check, come on out to Michigan for a visit. It doesn't get any more down to earth than here. In fact, I have personally several MULLETS in my town. Recently.

Thanks for the great read!!


8:03 AM  
Blogger Teresa & Shawn said...

Sounds like a blast. I cannot wait to see the photos!!

4:45 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

Some little weekend you had! So glad you motivated yourself to step out of the old comfort zone and experience some fun with friends -- new and old.

PS Thanks for the descriptive tour of the mansion. ;)

4:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

OK this was a weekend long party...again why was I not there!!! I am likeing this Lisa more with every post, must be something with the name. It is always nice to come home...

Mullets Huh did I ever tell you Emma's nick name used to be Emma Dirt...She had a young mullet that put go ole joe to shame..HAHA she even got the movie Joe Dirt for Christmas a few years back LOL

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

Sounds like you had an amazing time! I demand to see pictures!

8:28 AM  

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