Virgin Islands 2011
Written by Rick Archer
Party for the May 2011 trip to the Eastern Caribbean
presented a real problem for Marla and I.
Where were we going to have the get-together? 71
potential guests would make anyone swallow.
In the old days,
we simply held the party at the dance studio. Everyone
knew how to find it, the room was big, and there were plenty
of chairs for everyone.
Marla and I were
able to dodge the no-studio problem last summer when the
Westwind C&W Club
graciously offered us their facilities to host our Bahamas
2010 Pre-Cruise party. Good thing, too, because we had
nearly 140 people in attendance!
This time, Marla
decided that maybe our own house would do the trick.
Would our house hold 45 to 60 people? Good question.
At least we had
a lovely yard complete with gardens, decks, walkways and a
gazebo to share with our guests. Back in the
early Nineties, the house next to mine came up for sale.
The low price made it too tempting to pass on. However, I
didn't really need more house space. I bought it more for the opportunity to create a garden than I
did to have more rooms.
Over the years I
have had a ball creating my own little sanctuary.
Sadly, like most Houston homes, we lost many plants
in the devastating hard freeze back in early January.
Thankfully the plants were just beginning to show signs of
life recently. Even the grass was starting to grow back!
The big question
was how would people feel about having a party in our own
bedroom? When I bought the second house, I
decided what I needed was a "backup" dance studio in case
the Bissonnet location was ever disrupted by a fire or
When Marla saw
this lovely unused space, she decided to turn
my backup dance studio into our new bedroom.
However, when we sold the studio a year ago, Marla and I
decided to subdivide our bedroom into half dance studio/half
bedroom for private lessons. Marla was very skeptical. However, once
she found out that people didn't mind the odd arrangement at
all, Marla began to enjoy the comfort of teaching in her own
Thanks to the
make-shift dance studio, at least we had a large open area
to use for the meeting. Our biggest concern was just
how many people we could fit in there.
Marla asked for
RSVPs. 45 said they were coming. Would the room
be big enough? Only one way to find out.
around for chairs. Counting all the chairs that I have
accumulated over the years plus all the chairs that Marla
brought with her when we merged households, I came up with
40 chairs. Holding my breath, I put out the chairs one
To my immense relief, the room held 40 chairs just fine.
In fact, there was room for two tables we intended to use
for our potluck dinner following the meeting. I think
if we do this again, we might be able to squeeze in up to 70
assuming they all like each other a lot. And if the
people really like each other, maybe 80.
However, I will
need to buy or borrow more chairs. There wasn't one
empty seat left! Of course if they like each other
that much, there will always be laps to sit on.
The meeting went
smoothly. As usual, Marla caught me off guard and
asked if I had anything intelligent to say. I mumbled
a couple words to accompaniment of several tee-hees for
sounding so ignorant. Unfortunately my mind had
already wandered off towards fantasies about all that food.
I was hungry!
As it turned
out, our Potluck Dinner was quite a feast!
I'll tell you
what, some of the people on this cruise can really cook.
I went back for
seconds and thirds. The food was so delicious.
Marla got the
recipe for a Champagne Punch from Andy Regnier that was the
hit of the party. That punch bowl was drained in a
hurry. I should know... I went back looking for more.
Judging by all
the sad faces surrounding the punch bowl, I wasn't alone.
Another big hit of
the evening was dinner in the romantic Gazebo. I have had that
Gazebo for over twelve years and have never used it for a
darn thing. I saw it at Sam's Club and decided to buy it
back in the late Nineties. And there it has sat for
all those years just looking pretty.
Back when I was
running the studio, the thought of entertaining in my home
was out of the question other than the occasional volleyball
party. Unfortunately once the root system of my giant
oak tree snapped the concrete volleyball court in half,
those days ended. That ended parties in my home
because frankly I needed rest on my days off.
that the studio is a year in the rearview mirror, these days
are different. Now I actually miss people. In preparation
for the party, Marla suggested we use it as a dining area.
After all, the gazebo came equipped with a table and a
swinging chair. Let's saddle the place up and put it
Marla was right
on the money. The combination of the overhead fan, the balmy
Hawaii-style weather, the pretty outdoor music and the
friendship, the Gazebo was indeed the perfect setting for
Some Enchanted Evening.
used to live in the Gazebo until Marla evicted it to the
yard to create room for the dinner table.
It was a day of
surprises. I discovered to my delight the dislocated
hammock was perfect for disguising an bare area that had yet to
bounce back from that hard freeze.
Wanda was the
only guest I saw who had the guts to try it out. Greg
was clearly thinking about testing the hammock. So I
teased Greg to join Wanda, but I think he was a little nervous
about whether it would hold two people or not.
always tell the pioneers... they are the ones dusting
themselves off after the hammock snaps.
brave pioneers, no one had the nerve to try the yellow
spiral slide, not even the courageous Wanda.
Maybe next party.
Ed and Tracy
came dressed for Charley Denton's huge Mobsters and Mob
Dolls Swing Party over at SSQQ-Jester scheduled for the same
Tracy and Ed
were not alone. I estimate at least 25 people left our
party to head over for some Swing dancing.
I heard that
party was a huge success. Good job, Charley!
The only mishap
of the evening was poor Marla who had a pants button get
stuck in her chair. Fortunately, Tracy was kind enough
to liberate Marla while Denise supervised.
Marla and I were
proud of our get-together. This was the first major
party we have held here at our home in over five years.
We are really
glad we got brave enough to give it a try. Along the
way, we discovered a secret - throwing a party at your home
is the greatest home improvement incentive known to man.
You have no idea
how many last minute projects got done thanks to our
decision to stick our necks out a little.
And you know
what else? It was fun! Marla and I had a blast
making the place spiffy again. Of course I still can't
find a lot of stuff that got put away somewhere, but I can
live with that.
I would like to
compliment Marla. Although I definitely contributed,
it was Marla who was the real dynamo. She went all out
to throw a great party. I could not be more proud of
We both thank
you all for coming! And soon we will all be cruising the