The Robert Petries did it. The Darren Stevenses did it. Even the Major Nelsons did it. And so did our parents and probably yours. The classic American house party. Where has it gone? We’ve seen some modern versions of it, a backyard fish fry, a deck party, a holiday open house. They all have most of the elements of the landmark shindig just missing Rob and Laura pushing back the furniture and dancing to the three piece combo invited just for the occasion. Then we got involved!
Our merry band of friends and relatives attempted a revival of it last fall. Now some three months later people still talk of it. Twenty or so revelers all came over within 15 minutes or so of all the others and all left within 15 minutes or so of all the others and while they were here there was mingling and snacking and drinking in celebration of absolutely nothing in particular. There was live music just for the occasion and attempts at impromptu dancing. (And promises of real dancing at the next one. See, they were already planning on us having another before this one spun it last.) We had no magician but we had sing-a-longs. We had no charades. Please, no charades. And when the last of the party-goers got up and went it was such a quick clean-up that, looking back on it, the prop guys must have helped. We’re certain Laura, though a little jealous, would have been quite proud.
We’re both of an age that we remember our parents having friends over and someone playing some instrument and someone else singing along. Food was plentiful but trying to recall specific menus gets us not much farther than cheese and crackers. There were games. Cards and dice seemed to play starring roles in these efforts though maybe someone tried to talk others into at least one round of charades. Men ended up in one room; women in another. Somehow, probably by magic, everyone knew when to go home. And they all talked about it until the next gala. These were most likely the models for those television version house parties that had to be just a bit more extravagant than our folks could have managed. Those television versions were not at all the planned model for our merrymaking but in retrospect might have subconsciously been. And we managed to be just a bit more extravagant than they.
So, with a tip of our hat (worn at a jaunty angle) to Mrs. Petrie, we’re going to continue our revival of a grand American tradition. Next time we’ll push the furniture back and roll up the rug. Maybe Rob and Laura will do a soft shoe in celebration of nothing in particular. They’ll ask us just how we do it time and again. And the band will play on.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?