Friday, July 20, 2012

Showing Up

Last week, the Matron had Guest Anxiety.

Not only was she anticipating the arrival of Mrs. G, but preparing for her sister and, well, perhaps 200 people.  That's right, folks.  Each year, the Matron and her husband host The World's Greatest Potluck.   Consider "world's greatest."  This would imply a bar, high.

It is.

A hundred or so people -- creaking toward ninety, spry 20 somethings, toddlers, sixth-graders on bikes and their parents -- descend on the Matronly environs for a kick-ass party on July 28.   The street is blocked off.    The part starts with backyard theatre, a play Scarlett produces (which involves 20 children rehearsing three hours a day for the next week which is another blog post).  The St. Paul Fire Department swings by with a rig for a tour; their Police counterparts do the same with the squad care.  There's a pinata for the younger set and a band!  Music, alive and in front of you.  Dancing is sometimes involved as is a large keg of Summit beer (you Minnesotans know).  This party has transpired every year, starting in 2000 when the Matron became Dr. Matron and determined Celebratory Activity was required.  Things just snowballed from there.

Can she interject right now to note that no public servant -- police officer or firefighter--  in 13 years, has ever even consumed a single crumb off a table FULL of a variety of food so delectable that words will not suffice?   Not even a brownie.  This really squashed the Matronly stereotype of the doughnut guzzling guy with a badge.  Instead, our public dollar has been 100% devoted to complete and thorough community service, as for 13 years, different police officers have dutifully opened squad car doors and let three year olds hit the siren.   Thank you.

Naturally, given that the next two weeks would bring in throngs of people to the Matronly estate, a blogging celebrity and a relative, yours truly did what any woman would do:  started a new book.

Not just any book, dear reader, but The Gathering by Ann Enright.  If you have hands, use them now to purchase this item on your computer:  a.m.a.z.on.   Worry about independent booksellers after you've read this gripping, lovely, one-of-a-kind story.  If you've ever felt like you're falling apart in the middle of your own life, this book is for you.  It was for the Matron.

Between pages, the Matron popped up her head and pondered:  Mrs. G!  Theresa, the sister!  Those 200 guests!  Three hours of many children ripping through her house for the next six days!  Building a set!  This instant was enough to immediately lead her to pop right back down into those pages.

But . . . she eventually ripped herself away to mop some floors and shine windows.  Flowers were plucked and propped into vases. All that evidence of little boy pee around the toilet rim (you know what she means, mamas) dutifully disappeared.  In fact, the Matron sacrificed her book to clean her house.  This is akin to a kidney.  She vacuumed, swept, dusted, polished, primped and scoured from Monday dawn to well after dusk.

Tuesday, she could hardly contain herself!

Matron:  "Heather!  I'm so glad you're here!  Remember those kids in high school who said they never studied for the test but you know they did?  Or the women who say they didn't 'do a thing' and the house always looks that spotless?"

Mrs. G:  "Yes, Mary?  Is this you?  We've never really met in person so it's lovely to see you!"

Matron (warm greeting set aside in service of SELF):  "Well, I am NOT one of those people.  I scoured this house honey."

Mrs. G:  "Lovely.   I hope you enjoy it."

This particular guest was so incredibly low maintenance that the Matron believed her:  Mrs. G did not care that dog hair added a sheen to the couch, Merrick's arsenal masqueraded as posh porch decor or that breakfast was 'uh, here's the fridge.'

No doubt, this would make any hostess happy.   Matronly delight was further solidified when she met other derfs at Nye's on Wednesday:  Claudia, Nina and Kristen.  Here, self-restraint was required.   Instead of saying to Kristen: "OMIGOD you have the most important job in my life and here are Merrick's test scores" she said:  "wow, you coordinate English curriculum for the school district.  Cool!"

She now has an Oscar in her closet for that one.

Nina, she wanted to grab by the collar and ask:  "Your son works for you in the same business and building and you are still standing?!   Give me some of that powder!"  Instead, she affirmed the details:  successful business, adult children, grandchildren.    Surely there was some magic ticket?

Claudia of Idiot's Kitchen?    Complete Matronly dissolution.  A woman who could not only cook and live to write about it, but could read music while playing an instrument.  Both at the same time!   This is a skill the Matron once attempted, only to break her tailbone and sit on a physician-mandated cushion for six months of poor clarinet performances.

Details, unimportant.  But it is permitted to ponder:  clarinet, sheet music, performance, broken tail bone.  True.

All in all, it was a time of great satisfaction, good food and conversation.   The Matron,who has not yet recovered from the thrill of receiving business cards when she earned tenure, is anxiously awaiting emails from the women who received these novelty cards.  Hint.

The end game?   After all this?   The hoopla, anticipation, anxiety and events ahead?   Here, the Matron found something other than what exists on the surface.

A life out there in the world -- yours, mine, ours, anybody's -- is important.  Worth reading and worth writing.   Worth paying attention to.   The past few days and the week ahead actually isn't about that crystal toilet rim but the little boys who use it (sorry, can't help herself with that one).   She plans to sacrifice duty for conversation and life, more often.

She plans to document hers--life, that is --  more often:  three times a week.  Showing up.

Thank you Kristen, Claudia, Nina, Denise and Heather.  She appreciates that you each may have no idea exactly what you did, but thank you!

Kristen, can we talk about fourth grade?  Merrick is at JJ Hill and on another note,  the Matron thinks bribing teens with talent is not a bad idea.  


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a time! Every gathering I read about makes me more excited for September when Heather hits San Diego.

One thing about an empty nest is no pee on the toilets, ever. It is a consolation.

Athena said...

You are too kind! It was wonderful to put a face and voice to the voice I read. Email coming...

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

What a fine meet-up that must have been! Derfs are a good bunch, of that I am convinced.

Sitting down has curbed the pee everywhere issue at my house (wood floors were the basis for this rule).

I like a woman who confesses to cleaning and even more so, gets sucked into reading instead of cleaning!

Anonymous said...

I always run from a challenge, at first. Right now I'm reading your blog when I should be doing something else. A book is always better then cleaning anything. I have figured out though that when I'm overwhelmed by whatever it might be I have to run away for a bit before I can tackle the "it" head on. Don't count on me in a crisis until later. (not a good thing if a tornado is coming)
I wish I had been at the Minnesota Derf Meet-up. The conversation must have been very interesting.


MJ said...

Sounds like a wonderful week you had, despite the house cleaning! Your comment to write reminds me that I must head downstairs to journal/scrapbook!

cookingwithgas said...

I hope you enjoy it... around here I say if you drop in to see me you will find a messy house, I never like to disappoint.
Also, I hold firm the belief that guest bring dust and cobwebs with them.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Sounds like a swell time!
I only scrub bathrooms to prepare for guests--well, and change sheets if they're staying over. I bet Mrs. G was a great houseguest.

On a side note, I HATED The Gathering. Didn't finish it. Couldn't understand it--and neither could the rest of my book club--it goes down in infamy as one of 2 books none of us finished. Oddly, one of my writing partners RAVED about it when I asked her if she'd read it.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

It was wonderful meeting you! I'm sorry I had to leave the party so early. Hope to catch up with you again sometime in MN! Until then, I'll enjoy your fantastic blog.