When you go to a New Year's Eve Dinner Party warned in advance that it must start by 6pm, as the other guests don't like to eat late, you are somewhat prepared to lower your expectations for an extended evening of hilarity and celebration.
The combination of designating myself the alcohol-free driver for the evening and the culmination of our swinging good time by 10 pm, (at home and in bed by eleven), meant that I had no trouble getting up this morning; although I was totally wrung out and exhausted by the social efforts of keeping a conversation going at our table of seven souls and containing the almost overwhelming urge to smack the boorish husband of the pale personalitied lady, who was so iron willed about our dinner schedule.
Mr. Retired International Pilot wanted to talk about all his name dropping destinations, which was a good start. Unfortunately, he didn't know anything about anywhere outside of the airports and the names of the hotels he stayed in so we couldn't compare notes on people and places in any depth.
He and our host are avid hockey fans. This I know because an enormous TV screen with endless puck chasing and much whacking of sticks was a part of the ambience. I was able to pull a few factoids I have heard on the news recently about players transferring back to their homelands to be part of the next Winter Olympic go-around. That kept us going for a good three or four minutes and scored me a few points, I would hope.
His wife, a retired nurse, mentioned an interest in bird-watching. I tried to draw her out with questions about her hobby. I reminisced about The Camargue in southern France, where we could watch flocks of swans and flamingoes fly in to feed in the early dawn light. Mr. Pilot wanted to know how many miles that was from Barcelona? Understandable, I suppose, for one from such a large and important World Power. Maybe they didn't point out in pilot school that we Europeans do like to differentiate still between one Country and another.
Our Hostess was busy undercooking our potatoes and wondering if she had marinated the ribs for long enough. As the engine of the Porsche was still ticking down in cooling mode as we walked up the driveway and she had mentioned that they just got back from the grocery store immediately preceding our arrival, one can assume that the question was rhetorical in nature.
Dowager Hostess (her mother) was visiting and in amazingly good form. She's in her mid eighties. In the past twelve months she has overcome a stroke, a broken hip, intestinal surgery and the loss of her son to cancer. Currently working through a fractured clavicle and a lap-burn from spilling hot tea, she didn't chat much but it was a pleasure to see her dig into her food with gusto and burp occasionally by my side.
We lost the company of Host and Pilot Twerp after the meat and potato course. The draw of the sports was too powerful. They did let the two rampaging dogs in for slobber company; just in case we were lonely, or undecided about having our outfits dry cleaned after the Holidays. The dogs were quite amusing without anyone having to say a word but, after several elaborate humping exercises as a sort of floor show, they inspired our hostess to launch into a very detailed poop-scooping anecdote.
My Hubby can be quite entertaining sometimes. There are reasons I keep him around. Not so last night. He remained politely silent as paint-remover grade California red wine was poured into his glass and he ate his meat despite his doubts about a slightly sweet sauce on a savory dish. He did raise one good hockey question but it turned out they weren't playing with two pucks; that was a dead fly stuck on the TV screen.