I like a good party, me. I'm a great fan of the alcohol and the moving of parts of the body in a rhythmic style to phat, dench, beats and so forth. But more and more, recently, I've found myself being invited to parties hosted by people I don't know hugely well.
I mean, I know these people, don't get me wrong... I don't just wander up to any building that sounds like it contains people 'Getting their groove on', knock on the door, hold up a four-pack of Carling and say 'Dave invited me' ('cos there's always a Dave around somewhere isn't there?). But I've probably only seen them a couple of times a month, over a few years. I guess I'm maybe what they used to call in the olden days 'a face'. Someone you see around the place and nod at who you think might be more important/mysterious than they actually are.
Actually, it could be that it's actually Mrs Dandy who gets the invite and I just tag along, but I couldn't possibly comment.
They usually follow the same sort of timeline:
- We (because it's invariably a 'family' invite.) arrive about 15-20 mins after the posted start time, because you don't want to seem too keen.
- We look suspiciously at all of the other 100+ people in the room, few of whom we know. We get scowled at quizzically in return.
- Eventually, someone we know quite well turns up and we annexe a couple of chairs/tables and set up court, where we can be visited by other party-goers (including our original inviter or the person for whom the party has been thrown) at their leisure.
- We have a few beers
- Dancing ensues
- The decision is taken whether to leave the car at the venue and get a taxi home is discussed and summarily rejected.
- I drink more Coke / Lemonade than is strictly good for me
- I comment pointedly on the tightness of / lack of clothing on some of the female guests to any of my male compatriots within earshot.
- I further research the above subject until I'm noticed doing so by the wife.
- We go home, in the car, in a generally frosty atmosphere.
But we got invited to an 18th Birthday last year which went a little bit differently. First of all, the invitation contained those two words specifically designed to stab fear into the heart of every right-thinking Englishman. (No, not that, Bring Your Own Bottle is four words)
'FANCY DRESS' - But at least there was a theme, 'Heroes and Villains'
So we all went and had a bit of a think... The MicroDandy was fine, he had a Darth Vader costume already, The MiniDandy wanted to be a Jedi (we have the Force-FX lightsabres and everything, so it was just a case of making her a costume - Good job I can sew innit?). Mrs Dandy has a fine selection of Goth stuff, so 'Generic Vampire' was her choice. So it was left to me, I really wanted to go as Iron Man, but there wasn't enough time, or money, or talent available to make a decent costume in time (which I wasted a significant proportion of sulking about it) So I had to go with something I already had. Now my normal, day-to-day wardrobe contains all the items required for a decent Neo or Morpheus, Connor Macleod of the Clan Macleod or H.P. Lovecraft, but I fancied something different.
I decided to go as 'The Terminator', which I had the clothing for but not the prosthetics, because of course, I wanted to be a battle damaged T800 (and who doesn't deep down?) - So I searched the web and saw many, many videos of Americans with too much time on their hands sticking LEDs and theatrical PVC appliances to themselves and thought 'bugger that I'll just paint it on'.
So, if you'll picture the scene, I had my selection of acrylic paints that I once used for painting toy soldiers, in the upstairs bathroom, with one of those shaving mirrors screwed to the wall, you know, the ones with the comedy extending boxing glove type fitment. painting my face, right-handed (I'm left handed) without my glasses on (I'd tried just painting over my glasses, but it didn't look very effective) - This was the result... Ah, yes, I forgot to say that I'd ran out of silver, so had to use gold...
So we got our accessories together and took some pictures, the smaller Dandies grabbed their lightsabres, Mrs Dandy grabbed our new puppy (that I had made a pair of bat-wings for) and I picked up my shades, the freshly painted, over and under Nerf shotgun and my .50AE Desert Eagle... For how does one terminate properly without devastatingly powerful projectile weaponry?
We then started on the party timeline as described above. We got as far as the 'Someone we knew turned up' stage when suddenly there was a massive influx of Darth Vaders and Jedi. Now, my son took umbrage at this because he'd had the idea of coming as Darth Vader first and he did no more than to storm across the room to set about these poor people with his lightsabre. I don't know if anyone here's ever been twatted by a seven year old, full of righteous indignation, overarm, with a solid blade lightsabre - But it bloody hurts. And I admit I felt sorry for these poor teenagers trying to defend themselves with the little plastic extendy-blade lightsabres, or in one case, the cardboard core of (I think) a roller blind with the end painted red.
Not sorry enough to stop laughing and do anything about it of course, but sorry all the same.
Then things went downhill, the guns got borrowed and they danced around the room for a good hour or so and spent their time being discharged into the faces of villains by heroes, or slightly more often, vice-versa. As did the puppy, who, even if I say so myself, was incredibly cute dressed as a vampire fruitbat. And I seem to remember at one point having a lightsabre duel, with the MiniDandy, between songs, in the middle of an empty dancefloor.
The night wore on, more coke was drunk and the number of people in PVC hotpants dancing to 'Gangnam Style' seemed to multiply every time I looked up.
I took a few minutes out to write something on the 'guestbook', well, I say write something.. What I actually did is stand there for ten minutes with my mouth open, thinking of some edifying advice for someone who'd just entered adulthood, then gave up and drew a dragon wearing a cowboy hat, which I then mislabelled as a dinosaur wearing a cowboy hat and wandered back to our little group of tables.
Can you think what had happened in my absence? Have a guess...
Nope, wasn't that.
Not that either.
It certainly wasn't that, but only because I don't think that there's that much oil-based lubricant in the East Midlands area.
What had happened was that a number of our friends had turned up a little more than fashionably late and had, as a group, dressed up as 'The Scooby Gang', complete with improbably attired, lizard based villain.
Oh yes, and my seven year old son had field stripped the Desert Eagle into it's component parts and spread it out on one of the tables, he'd had an encouraging audience and everything.
I tapped him on the shoulder and said:
'Dude, you gonna put that back together?'
'And why not?'
'I don't know how...'
So after the slowest sliding facepalm in the world, I sat down and set about re-assembling the gun, it took longer than I'd expected, as the breech cover had fell off the table and rolled away, and it was dark, and I had the same drunken audience.
On the whole, a great party, I need to go to more like it. And so do you guys, you owe it to yourselves.
And if you do, don't forget to send me an invite. Oh yeah, you need to mingle, the mingle's the thing(le)