We’ve known the family about eight or nine years when I worked with my friend in an industrial site office on the wrong side of the tracks. Salubrious is not a word that comes to mind when I recall the office. Ken Duncan photographs were conspicuous because of the effort they made to lift the tone of the place. We had humour to get us through the workload and lots and lots of coffee. I left some years ago but we have remained friends and catch up for lunch where we share anecdotes from our very different work places and laugh a lot. I felt privileged therefore to have been invited to my friend’s daughter’s 18th.
It’s been a long time since the MOTH (man of the house) and I attended a party. A party that started at two in the afternoon and will finish, well – when it ends. The MOTH remembered Suzie as an eleven year old bobbing about in our swimming pool. We wondered whether we’d recognise her and her sister … and we didn’t. I love how much we’re forgiven because of our age. Ageing isn’t that bad actually once you learn to go with the flow, be gracious and smile a lot, and nod. I’ve learned a few tricks that I get away with now that I’m ageing. Like pretending I haven’t heard when someone asks for the cashews, and I don’t want to share. Or coming around for seconds because the red velvet birthday cake was too divine to settle for the one piece. I’m learning all the time, and impressed with my cognitive capacity to innovate!
The fashion of the party-goers ranged from those of us in long shorts and sandals, long flowing dresses, jeans and jandals, short skirts and even shorter dresses. The young ones
outshone us oldies. We let the team down with our slack dress code. They had groomed themselves meticulously while we had thrown on some comfy clothes. The Phantom of the Opera arrived part way through the afternoon followed by a bevy of masked beauties in gorgeous evening attire. The young males were dressed in long trousers, groovy shirts and socks and shoes, no less. Some even had waist coats like Grandpa used to wear in the olden days (missing the fob watches boys). The young ones were masquerading and us old fellas were rocking on. Tonight the young people outshone us by a country mile. They may have been drinking as we were, but a lot more noise and silliness emanated from our corner of the garden. They behaved with poise and maturity whereas we, it seemed, had lost the plot.
It was refreshing to find people with whom to hold a decent conversations which may have started out with tentative enquiries about where others lived or whether they were still working. An hour into the afternoon and we were exchanging hilarious snippets of our upbringing, stories of how school was back in the day. Two of us agreed our pukka English upbringing had engrained a life long value of respect for authority that still has us standing up when someone, other than family, first enters a room. It’s bizarre but I stand up when my boss walks into my office. I hadn’t thought about it before tonight but she must think I’m quite odd jumping up every time she walks in.
Suzie handled herself flawlessly. Her response to Mum’s speech touched my heart in its sincerity. She made me proud of her and the generation she represented tonight. Her Mum has done well in raising a daughter of Suzie’s sensibilities and maturity.
The food was wonderful, the company brilliant and the young folk absolutely fantastic. They mingled happily, joined in the conversation if they were nearby and helped out when asked. The future is in their hands and I feel better knowing these young adults will be making the decisions when I’m too old to know how or even care. I’m confident they will outshine us in the future. We’ll be irresponsibly partying on while they’ll be picking up the pieces and carrying us through our dotage. We are in good hands.
We left later than intended but earlier than the young ones which seems fair. After all it is an 18th birthday party with the main event set to go off after we are tucked into our beds with a nice hot cup of cocoa.