Generally when I arrive at a party, I don't expect to see the host playing with a 10 year old child in the front yard. Especially not when I've shaved my legs and worn heels so high I take my life in my hands every time I slip them on my feet. Such was the scene when we arrived last night to what had been billed as a Birthday Dinner Party. It was in fact somebody's birthday and there was food, but I think the 'party' part was pretty misleading.
Attending as KDawg's wingman for the night, we entered the house armed with a plate of bruschetta to find dinner would be served 'buffet' style in the lounge. If I'd known it was going to be a TV dinner kind of night, I might have worn a longer dress.
The people inside were a friendly, but motley crew of individuals, sitting awkwardly in all corners of the room. Considering we were both driving, we'd splashed out on a $15 wine instead of our usual $10. Kel reflected that you could note the considerable difference, mainly because it didn't burn the nostrils on the way down. A real shame then, that as we sat uncomfortably in front of the roaring fire (it was 20 degrees celcius people, we're not in Finland) I felt compelled to offer the other drinkless guests some of our bottle. The hosts at this stage were only offering water.
The birthday boy was introduced by Kel as an 'Owl Expert'. He protested that his specialty was actually insects found in tree top canopies and he didn't really know that much about owls. Which made her feel like a right dick, until he confessed 'but I did work as an Owl biologist for a while.' He then launched into a quite long winded tale of a court case in Canada involving a protected bird species and some scientists vs big industry. There were a lot more details, but I was too busy repressing the urge to make a Pelican Brief joke to focus.
One guest worked an attendant at a Psychiatric Unit. He had unicorns embroidered on the backs of his jeans...UNICORNS. He was actually pretty hilarious, regaling us with war stories from his work place. Apparently 956 forks have gone missing from the Psych Ward Cafeteria since July 2012 and a full scale investigation is being launched. Kel and I suggested a Shawshank Redemption style escape attempt may be afoot and suggested he check behind posters of famous Hollywood broads for tunnels.
Eventually we made our excuses to leave and have a hushed debrief on the street outside. It came to light that Kel had actually seen one of the guests before. A 'rugged' man (read- dirty, unwashed, bearded in an Into the Wild living on a bus in the wilderness kind of way, not the hipster way I find attractive), he shared that he had been unemployed for the last year and a half.
'You'd think since he has so much time on his hands,' she said. 'He could have showered. I have two jobs and I still managed to wash before I came.' Half way through their conversation she realised she recognised him from the local park, where he enjoys using a metal detector a few days a week. She thought he was homeless. In fact, we're still not sure he isn't.
I love meeting new people. I am convinced that someday a serendipitous meeting will change my life in a dramatic way. Although on this occasion I was more likely to contract scabies from a homeless guy than meet the love of my life. More often than not though, the weirdest nights make the best stories.
On the way home I stopped off at the servo in my high heels and new dress to buy a Milky Way. 'You heading out tonight?' the friendly Canadian attendant asked me. 'Nah, going home to eat my chocolate in bed.' Wingman duties done.