14 December 2009

The Party

Mark and Gwen are from Vancouver. Mark operated a restaurant there for many years. They are renting an attractive house here and are staying until spring. One of the main reasons they chose this house is that it is fitted out with fantastic cooking equipment along with an amazing array of cooking utensils. On top of that it is full of dried herbs and spices and high end French sea salt and other such ingredients that they are free to use. Mark haunts the local markets searching out fresh fish, poultry, meat, vegetables, fruit, and other ingredients. He is delightfully fanatical.

Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Gwen, with Mark as her right hand man, threw a party for members of Alcoholics Anonymous here in San Miguel. Somewhere in excess of fifty people attended, mostly Canadian, American, and European with a sprinkling of Mexicans. It was the greatest large party that I have attended in years with no exaggeration.

On Friday afternoon I was at their house while La Mexicana assisted in the preparation of the hot punch for the party. This is a concoction of boiled whole fruit that has be prepared the day previous and let to sit over night. The formula for the atom bomb is less complex than the recipe for this ponche. Mark and Gwen also worked all day Friday preparing other items for the party as much as could be done in advance. My role in all this was supervisory. I was called upon to taste various items occasionally as if I knew how it was supposed to taste in its perfect state.

The Range.

For the party Mark and Gwen laid out a buffet on a table in their dining room and on the shelf of the island in the kitchen. The bread, assorted cheeses, and crackers in themselves were a delight. The imported Gorgonzola cheese, authentic Italian, was beyond description delicious. The entrées came on in waves. Shrimp, chicken, arranchera (thinly sliced beef), deep fried spiced potatoes, baked onions, other suitably vegetarian stuff, and lots of little side dishes I will not try to describe. Ponche served in an olla, ice cream punch, sparkling water, great coffee. A sideboard full of cakes and pastries. Gwen and Mark spent between two and three hours in front of that big range constantly cooking and bringing it on.

I did not take any pictures at the party because Alcoholics Anonymous people like to remain—you know—anonymous. I must say this though. I find drunks who are not drinking to be enormously charming and outgoing company. I suffer from a bit of a social handicap. I am quite good company at a table of up to six or eight at the most. When the numbers start to get bigger than that, I am present in corpus only. Mentally, I am fully occupied with the issue of how I am going to make my escape at the earliest possible moment. I would rather have the middle toe on my right foot amputated than do "networking," for example. This gathering was a notable exception for me.

Some present had only recently sobered up and were understandably still a bit caught up in their “story,” but they were easy to avoid. The last thing the real veterans of sobriety wish to speak of socially is Alice's Adventures in Drunken Land. That is the last thing I wish to speak of, too, even though I do not yet really qualify as a veteran. But art, books, plays, clothing, classical and popular music, San Miguel, México generally, New York, Chicago, England, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Paris, La Virgin de Guadalupe's birthday, and myriad other subjects were all on the table in a truly delightful way. (The word “myriad” is descended from a Greek word meaning “ten thousand.” As late as the 19th Century, it was still used to mean “ten thousand.” A truly fitting word in my context.)

I left the party around 9:30 elevated . . . for reasons I cannot explain. All I really know is that I did not have even one beer and schnapps on Saturday. I did not have even one beer and schnapps on Sunday. I did not have even one beer and schnapps today. I do not think I will have even one beer and schnapps tomorrow. Maybe I will splurge on a bottle of Stolichnaya next week and get blind drunk to celebrate the end of these two years and five months without it. We shall see what next week brings. But hell's bells, Jesus may take me home before next week. So all I care about is right now. This moment. And this moment without it is as good as it gets in this world.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The most striking feature of this house is the dining room. In the photo above Mark and the two women are in the end of the dining room where the dining table is normally located. That half of the room is covered. It has a ceiling. The other end of the room where the fountain is located is open to the sky. The bedroom windows overlook this open end. So feature this if you can. With the usual setup one can eat in one end of the dining room while it rains in the other end. You can see the floor drain peeking out from under the table in the middle of the overhead view below.

And then of course there is the roof. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * *

By the way, Gwen is the person who is painting my portrait. Opinions continue to roll in. Everyone agrees that it is a good likeness. However, because of the style of the portrait, it has generated some discussion of whom I resemble in it. One person thought I look like Don Quixote. I would have to stand on a box to resemble Don Quixote.

More than one have suggested that I am the spitting image of Jesus Christ Himself. That of course depends on which image of Christ one grew up with. The Protestant image of him kneeling in prayer that hangs in my parents house justifies the comparison. (Protestants are uncomfortable with images of Him hanging right out there on the cross. Protestant crosses are generally unoccupied.)

However, by far the most startling and interesting comment was that I strongly resemble Vincent Van Gogh. In the abstract that idea seemed plausible. However, when one fans through the several self-portraits that Vincent Van Gogh did, the idea does not hold up under scrutiny.

A portrait of one's self. What a wonderfully satisfying subject of discussion for a true solipsist.

No comments: