Well, it's all over, and I'm sitting down with a cup of tea and a very messy house to be dealt with tomorrow, but a more-or-less immaculate yard, thanks to Dorothy.
So I think the barbecue was smaller than last year and had a higher proportion of kids to adults, but everything went fine. "It's the most integrated party I've ever attended," a friend from Rogers Park told me. Some of that was thanks to Medicine Man's work buddies, who made a strong showing and brought family along. They raised the African American percentage significantly higher than it was last year. And Medicine Man's friends are mighty diverse, too, so we had representation from the four major people groups: Latino, African American, white and Asian. That's probably the order of greatest to least attending. Just as an aside--there were a number of people who came who had been at the Dyke March in Pilsen today, so we had diversity of all kinds and everybody had a great time. That's a big reason why I bust my butt to do this once a year.
It actually sprinkled around water fight time, and it wasn't that hot today, so we did not have the traditional water balloon fight. But we did have the cake from BomBon Bakery again--this time the flavor was Tutti Frutti--and everyone raved about it. I broke the bank and bought a bigger one this year because last year's ran out so fast. This year's was totally eaten, but I think everybody got at least one piece--I heard no complaints of not getting any. "It's juicy!" someone exclaimed. It's that moist and good.
Before we ate the cake, I took a moment to tell everybody how great it's been having Medicine Man here this year and we all gave him a big cheer.
After the cake vanished we had the pinata. We rigged it up on a rope between the back deck and a ladder out in the yard. I saw some of the whacking, but was told later that the pinata did not actually break. Someone knocked it off the rope to the ground, and the kids all dove and either they or some grownups tore it apart and spilled out the candy. Some guys on the back porch threw the extra candy down when the ground frenzy subsided slightly. One of them, an 8th grader too old to play but not too old to enjoy watching, told me excitedly afterwards, "I had to wait to throw the candy because they were just too crazy!"
Related to having fewer adults this year, we had a much smaller third shift. Every year this party moves through three phases: setup, when we have a bunch of kids and me and whatever few pair of adult hands are about to help get ready; the big rush, between four and nine or so, and then the late shift. This year the party had nearly folded when the late shift (four people) arrived, which persuaded the last two or three people still hanging in with me to stick around a while longer. This year there was some drama between the dregs of the big rush and the arrival of the late shift which made me very glad the late shift did arrive. I'll write about that tomorrow. Everything turned out fine.
Although Dawn came by early and had something to eat and met my new prospective roommate and some other people, and her dad actually cut my grass early this afternoon, their family did not come to the party for the first time since I started throwing it. I really missed them, both for the company and frankly for their very competent help with the grill and cleanup. Dawn's parents went out someplace together earlier this week, and he was over a couple of other times this week at the house, so I don't know if that is a sign of some level of reconciliation or what. Whatever it is, I hope it's good.
For me one of the greatest things at this party was that some of the kids, especially the girls, who had gone on the Museum of Science and Industry trip spent time with my contact over there. I saw her chatting about bugs with the kids. She also brought Camp Marshfield some very cool stuff--comic books on science topics and a big box full of wood and cardboard shapes that look like puzzle pieces but are actually material from which you can build things and create objects. One of the Brady Boys quickly figured out how to make a cool-looking cube out of a bunch of them. I'll have to see if I can scare up a Rubik's cube for him to play with.
We also had an alley basketball game going on for a while, but during cleanup I found the ball, deflated, at the back of my parking pad. I just got it from Target and they said it was an outdoor ball. Man, that didn't last long.
The only disappointment for me is that there is still a box that may have hamburgers in it in my refrigerator. I thought we cooked all the burgers this year. Maybe somebody just left the empty box in there. I'll have to fight my way through the leftover beer tomorrow and find out.
Oh, and just to be safe, I'll go check the microwave for defrosted burgers one more time before I go to bed!
We did have one microwave incident this year, early on. I forgot to take the wire twistie off the plastic package of hamburgers before I put it in, and it caught on fire. The kids spotted it and told me, so we turned off the microwave and pulled it out. The fire went out quickly and the machine and the burgers were all fine. Whew!
Lord willing we will have no other microwave disaster this year, but I'll run back downstairs and open the door just to make certain. Good night and more tomorrow.