If we didn’t occasionally have guests over, our house would probably end up looking like one of the houses you see on the news about once a year, where police spend hours carrying out armloads of mangy-looking cats through the splintered front door after the neighbors report a horrible smell.
Of course, I’m exaggerating somewhat. Our house is unlikely to make the news without somehow being involved in the paternity of Britney’s sister’s baby. Still, I’m especially sensitive to how clean we can get the place before our friends start arriving this weekend.
Apparently, early January is the time to have a party. Everyone is just sitting around, trying to figure out how soon they can start pretending that their gym memberships have expired, waiting for an invitation. Several people we haven’t seen since our wedding three years ago accepted the invitation, and they’re not even going to get a nice meal out of it this time. We were counting on having a very low acceptance rate, but about triple the partygoers we expected have decided to matriculate.
The last time we had a party this big, it was really just a pre-party for the night’s main event, a show at local hotel ballroom put on by an X-rated hypnotist, a man whose livelihood depended almost entirely upon the willing suspension of disbelief and the ready availability of bananas.
This time, though, we do have one ace up our respective sleeves: the chocolate fountain we just borrowed from my parents. I’m a little anxious about using it without adult supervision, though. The last time my parents used the fountain, my friends offered to help clean it up afterwards. With the fountain almost entirely disassembled, my buddy Rob wanted to see what would happen if he turned it on again. The center piece spun around wildly, flinging gobs of chocolate indiscriminately about the kitchen. Those standing closest to Rob’s experiment looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he covered himself in mud so that the Predator couldn’t use infrared vision to find him.
Of course, I have no idea where we’ll put the fountain even if we do get it working. After perusing dining room sets, we decided we really didn’t want to afford one yet, so the dining room has been functioning as our trash room since we moved in. The trash room has turned out to be much more useful than a dining room anyway. I think trash rooms are the way of the future, like robotic dogs and Swiffer WetJets. Not many people know this, but Swiffer WetJets do not actually employ jet engine technology. Yet.
My parents have a trash room, too, though they call it the “storage room.” The storage rooms goes through its complete life cycle in about a decade; Dad will spend ten years filling it with karate pads and broken dehumidifiers, and Mom will spend a weekend throwing everything out. I don’t like it when the storage room is clean. It seems out of balance. It’s much more entertaining when you need a torch, a whip and a fedora hat to retrieve the hot tray. Besides, a trash room is nothing to be ashamed of. In college, I had an entire trash apartment.
You have to be careful how much junk you keep around, though. It’s a fine line between being a packrat and ending up on Oprah with the cameraman zooming in on verklempt audience members as the slideshow of your house rolls on.
At the very least, having a party is a good excuse to get the trash room cleaned out. And the party is likely to be a success as long as you don’t run out of game pieces, which is what my brother-in-law Chris calls bottles of beer.
“Can you get me another game piece?” he’ll say.
“A what?” people will ask.
“A game piece. For the game of Drink Beer,” he replies.
That sounds like a fun game. We’ll have to try it out this weekend, if we can’t find Scattergories in the trash room.
You can send your regrets (about reading this column) to Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.