Saturday, January 21 2012
There was snow today, the first honest snow storm of the season. It produced maybe three or four inches, which I felt compelled to shovel even though I could have probably gotten away without doing anything. The weather forecast called for rain in a few days, and I was a little concerned about the snow absorbing water and then freezing. That's a recipe for a concrete-like material that typically doesn't thaw until March.
Deborah was having a big house party this evening, and, since parking would be limited, five of us carpooled from our house: Nancy, Ray, Sarah the Vegan, and us. I us drove there in a SUV borrowed from Susan the Memoirist, the woman whose house Sarah is housesitting. Despite the plowing, there was still ice on the road, so I took it slow, rarely exceeding 40 miles per hour. Gretchen asked if I was driving slowly out of caution for the five people on board and I said yes, that when people entrust their lives to me, I exercise a proportionally greater amount of caution. I got the sense that Gretchen was sneering at my lack of punk rawk abandon, but later when she drove all of us home, she drove at about the same speed.
Deborah had a roaring fire in the woodstove, which made the partyspace warm and inviting, though, once everybody showed up, there was a lack of comfortable seating. Food manifested in its potluck form. I mostly just ate corn chips dipped in a delicious black-bean dip Ray had made followed by two bowls of a similarly-scrumptious white bean soup Deborah had made.
Most of my conversation was with the male halves of the various couples. I talked to Paul (of Paul and Ingrid) about how to collect and transmit data from his bus. Later I talked to Michæl (of Michæl and Jacinta) about a paranormal detecting app on his iPhone. (We ran a number of experiments using first a power drill and then a refrigerator magnet and determined that the detector was simply measuring magnetic field levels from the iPhone's built-in magnetic compass.)
Though I'm more reclusive than I once was, every now and then I feel myself rising to the level of the social performances that first impressed Gretchen back when we were still Oberlin students more than 23 years ago. Tonight I could see in Gretchen's eyes that I was doing it again as I went off on a speculative monologue about the medieval idea of homonculi. I said that people in those days thought that there are little people inside us driving us, and that there are little people inside of those guys driving them, ad infinitum, in an infinite series of Russian nesting dolls.
The last couple to show up at the party tonight had a tiny baby with them. It was so quiet and its movements so formulaic that it looked animatronic. At one point it woke up and smiled, but the smile was such an urgent rictus that it looked like an instinctual response to the possibility of being thrown into the refuse pile. That's a real danger when you're the seventh child, which this one was. Deborah's dog Al-Lou was the only dog at the party tonight, and the baby freaked him out so much when it moved that he wouldn't stop barking.
I later learned that the baby's parents are conservative Catholics. They might be conversant about punk rock and IPAs, and he might even be a good artist, but supposedly they also cast their votes for Republicans. That's not something I see often around these parts.
Speaking of IPAs, I brought five bottles of Ithaca Flower Power to the party, thinking Ray, Deborah, and Michæl (of Carrie and Michæl) would like it. But they were all kind of meh about my current favorite beer.
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