Free-Floating Hostility

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gettin Peggy Wit It

Okay that title was obviously an egregious pun but Mike has requested his wife back from the lands of the obsessive title-writers. The hated final exam is in, so I have a few hours before my next final in which to post about Peggy's party. A post is clearly indicated, since Boston Andy, the CEO of the party if you will, greeted us with the words "Hey, how are you? Love that blog!" The whole night was great fun for me on a number of levels, because in addition to enjoying the party on its own merits I got to sit next to Jesse at dinner and enjoy his commentary. Mike refers to me and Jesse collectively as the In-Laws Caucus since we're the most recently married(ish) into the clan and share a certain fascination with it.

I won a pocket-size watercolor set during the Peggy trivia hour. I apparently was the only one who remembered that the famous newlyweds whose party Peggy wound up at during her bachelorette days at Simon and Schuster were Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. I thought it was an obvious one, but perhaps I was just the only guest so eager to demonstrate my knowledge that I raised my hand and shouted. My mom proudly reports that when it was my turn to take the microphone and introduce myself so that I could give hints as to what famous person was born on Peggy’s birthday (Bette Midler, and there was confused silence when I suggested Bathhouse Betty--et tu, Jesse?), a couple of bubbies from the table next table over called out, “Great legs!”

Anyway, I'm very excited about my watercolors. Clafoutis and Bombololo on the other hand each won one of those toys that's truly created with the child's pleasure in mind. It was called a Horriball, and I'd venture that Mssrs. Horriball conducted extensive market research before committing to their final product design.

Jerry Horriball: We believe the children are our future. So let me ask you, kids, what product would make you pester your parents to death for the privilege of owning? Let your imaginations run wild here.
Tyler: How about a ball that, when you squeeze it, this mucus bubble bulges out of it and for a second you think that's it, until a big pile of dead flies covered in blood falls out too. That'd be wicked!
Stanley Horriball: By gum, Jerry, I think the boy's onto something.
Spencer: Make sure you have an extra version where instead of flies, you squeeze out tiny dead rats.
Jerry and Stanley: You got it, kid!

Bombololo, who is an architect of giddying talent at the age of nine, immediately determined the best method for taking his Horriball apart. Marcia and her Andy had demonstrated impressive acumen in choosing the favors, which in addition to the ball and the paints included a pocket kaleidoscope and a flashlight key chain. Later that evening there was a bit of a scuffle, and not at the Actual Kids Table, over who had won the pink kaleidoscope. At the conclusion of the trivia, Jesse told us, “If anyone wants to plan something like this on my birthday,” he nodded significantly toward his Andy, “I want you to tell them that I specifically said no.” Then he paused and added to Marisa, “Unless your mother’s going to be there to run around handing out prizes like Carol Merrill.”

Peggy of course received gifts of her own. Some cousin gave Peggy what seemed to me to be a combination photo album and toaster oven, wherein certain buttons caused pictures to pop up and an electronic voice told you who was in the picture. Ellen brought it around to our table and showed us a picture of two adolescents in old-fashioned swimming gear. "That's my dad," she said, "With his cousin Ruth. They were born to sisters on the same day of the same year, and they were raised like siblings." I thought that was nice, though I found it hard to relax around the talking toaster album, but later I got a version of the same story from Peggy herself. "That's a picture of my husband," Peggy told me fondly, "With his cousin Ruth. They were born to sisters on the same day of the same year. They were raised like brother and sister, and he hated her."

There were so many Peggy stories shared at the party that I decided not to share my favorite, which relates to how Peggy planted the seeds of the idea that someday I should marry her grandson. She was much too savvy to pressure us outright, so you never heard her say anything so gauche as “when are you two lovebirds gonna tie the knot.” Instead, she mounted a subtle campaign of stories about other people in the family. “When Andy and Marcia were living together,” she would say, “I wasn’t so hip then. When they’d go to her parents’ house on Thanksgiving I’d say to him, ‘How can you take that girl there year after year with no ring on her finger, and eat their turkey, and play with their children!'” I reminded Peggy of that story later in private, and she responded by telling me she had to make it to her 90th Birthday because we were taking so long to give her great-grandkids.

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