Take today, for example. We seem to have an ongoing disagreement on the definition of a house party. Her vision is a small and strategically picked exclusive guest list that will produce the perfect chemical reaction of spirited conversation over a succulent meal that allows her to try all those Food Network recipes she’s been stockpiling with my girls.
My house party is more Animal House, and if John Belushi and Martha Stewart had a baby, it would produce a host like me. The bigger the better I always say, and there is nowhere bigger than a Costco warehouse. When you can’t turn the hat trick of turning loaves into fishes, this is the go-to place when you have to feed the masses. Dreams of frilly Food Network fare are mothballed in favor of feeding crowds with pillow-sized bags of chips, sleeves of frozen burgers the size of manhole covers, and tubs of brownie bites that will play well with a belly full of Guinness at the end of the night.
As a precaution, I make the last minute decision to stock up on black trash can liners for the base of the toilet in case someone blows groceries in our small half-bath. And might as well pick up a fistful of fresh flowers near the checkout to place as a peace offering on the altar of a woman that has been chanting “pray for me, I married an Irishman” since we woke up this morning.
The flowers were a good call. The fact that I’m typing this little missive upstairs while the house sits in disrepair a mere three hours before 36 people descend on our backyard has created muck-thick tension in our humble abode. “Lighten up,” I say patronizingly. “The grillmeister general has everything under control, m’love.”
She ain’t buyin’ it. Any woman reading this knows what happens next. The “I cook/you clean” bargain struck between man and wife on the morning of the barbecue means that I marinade my liver in booze while I flip the marinated chicken on the barbie a few times for a grand total of 20 minutes.
While I am doing this, you will spend the rest of the night arranging the side dishes, fetching the drinks, ushering my drunk friends around the house with coasters and Windex, loading the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher, ensuring everything is put back in its place, and then when all is said and done, you lovingly hoist me upstairs into the guest bed because the snoring and belching required to shake off a hangover this pronounced will prove too much to sleep through. “These beers are room temperature,” my wife says, passing the office as I type this. “You better get a move-on and get some ice.”
I’ll sign off for now in search of something as cold as the tone in her voice. But first, I’ll stop at a church and say a decade of the rosary for my loving and patient wife, who did nothing to deserve being married to this particular Irishman. It’s gonna be a long summer, and she’s going to need all the prayers she can get!
(To read more essays like these or to purchase Mike Farragher’s book, check out www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com.)