Disappearing from my party while revelry rages

March 19, 2014 09:36 am

Back when I was a kid, I threw a lot of parties. Usually in conjunction with roommates or friends in order to share the cost and labor, but in the past few years the very thought of throwing a bash wears me out and I table the whole idea.

In Boulder, Colo., I lived in a house close to downtown with a fenced backyard, perfect for barbecues. 

Friends played music, deep frying turkeys was attempted, and large grills were borrowed or rented to cook chicken quarters, ribs or pork shoulders.

For a friend’s February birthday one year, I made vats and vats of gumbo and cornbread. While running, I would do the math over and over in my head — how many cans of tomatoes and pounds of chicken and sausage did I need and how much beer. After years of agonizing over the math formulas, I will stand by this: a quarter keg is good for 25 people and a half keg for 50 or so. 

Math is not my strong suit, and I messed up the gumbo ratios. The day after the Mardi Gras-themed party, I found another pot of gumbo and took it to the homeless shelter.

I also learned not to talk on the phone when I’m cooking. I burned four pans of cornbread at once standing at the stove just minutes before guests were to arrive.

Another pearl of wisdom I will divulge is this — if you run out of beer, that’s when the guests need to go home. 

Late one night, I argued and argued with my roommate about making a midnight run for another pony keg. I lost. The next day we awoke, had leftovers and a beer and made a clean-up lap before taking a Sunday afternoon nap. When we awoke again, thirsty for a beer, there was no longer a keg in the backyard. Despite a 6-foot fence, somebody, and I suspect University of Colorado fraternity members, had stolen the keg in broad daylight.

I worked for the university at the time and spent the next day hunting down the person responsible for the fraternity powder puff football game held in the neighboring school yard when the keg disappeared.

The biggest reason I no longer host parties is my guests won’t go home when I want to go to bed. More than once I’ve disappeared from my own party out of sheer exhaustion while the revelry raged. 

My father has a line he said I should use: “Honey, let’s let these nice people go home so they can go to bed.”

However, it’s too subtle for my crowd. I hosted a taco dinner on a Wednesday night, the Lostine Tavern’s traditional taco time after it closed. A friend said she wanted to go home and get more beer and I told her no, repeatedly. She did it anyway.

For St. Patrick’s Day this year, the scout and I tackled corning our own beef brisket. Relatively simple to do, it was delicious, but not pink, since we didn’t use “pink salt” or sodium nitrate.

Three corned beef boiled dinners were combined for the neighborhood gathering and there was enough to feed another dozen people afterward. 

Happily, everyone went home before 9 p.m., leaving us with a little whiskey, three six packs of beer, a sink full of dishes and half a week’s worth of leftovers, the best part of any bash.