Friday, February 17, 2012
A great memory I have centers around an unusual party one of my best buddies threw for our fun-loving friends when I lived in Southern California. We were all the overworked and underpaid parents of young children, and there was nothing we liked better than a kid-free evening with our crew. No wonder we were so delighted with Rayetta's invitation to make ourselves at home, her home, for a sit-down dinner (a pretty extravagant plan given that we were all on tight budgets). Needless to say, the whole gang signed on wholeheartedly as eager dinner guests. Why not? She was a terrific cook and one of the most enjoyable people you could ever meet, always ready for a good time. I, for one, was counting the days.
The highly anticipated evening rolled around, and we all showed up at our friend's door. She led us to an elegantly appointed table, including flowers, candles, and place cards...the whole nine yards. As if that weren't enough, beside each place setting was a beautifully wrapped gift for every one of us, each package a different size and shape. My first instinct was guilt that she had spent the money, but my second one was curiosity...closely followed by excitement. As I mentioned, none of us had a lot of extra cash, and presents were hard to come by. What's more, Rayetta was a great shopper, and I couldn't help wondering what she had given me.
I wish I could remember what she served, but I don't. All I can say is that she served up a warm, happy atmosphere for good friends to listen to each other, laugh together, and wax philosophical. What a close-knit group we were, bonded by our enthusiastic involvement in church, community, and family life.
Finally, when the conversation over dessert was nearing its natural end, we were invited to open our gifts. With a chorus of "awwww, you shouldn't haves," we ripped off the lovely paper like little kids on Christmas morning, only to find that the presents we had looked forward to so eagerly were items already belonging to us. Yep, my good buddy had cased our homes in the previous month, swiped something unique, and wrapped it up. Even funnier, it took most of us several seconds of effusive thank-yous to notice that what we had opened was, in actuality, our own property! (I was one of these lame brains, disappointed to find that she had somehow purchased a piece of decor identical to one I already had. Duh.) Of course, we all had a good laugh at ourselves, not just because we had been duped, but because the majority of us had never even noticed the item was missing from our homes.
We had a lot of crazy, creative parties at Rayetta's (including one where the wives were blindfolded and had to identify their own husbands by feeling all the mens' legs from the knee down), but I remember none more clearly than the purloined present dinner. I don't think I have to tell you that a good time was had by all!