Pre Cruise Party
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Virgin Islands 2011 Who Went? Mara's Triumph: A five-chapter saga
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Virgin Islands 2011
Pre-Cruise Party

Written by Rick Archer

The Pre-Cruise 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 flood. 

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 home.

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.

I scrounged 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 by 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. 

However, now 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 to use!

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.

This hammock 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. 

You can always tell the pioneers... they are the ones dusting themselves off after the hammock snaps.

Speaking of 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 evening. 

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 my wife.

We both thank you all for coming!  And soon we will all be cruising the Eastern Caribbean!

Virgin Islands 2011 Who Went? Mara's Triumph: A five-chapter saga
Pre-Cruise Party Rick's Scrapbook Guest Scrapbook About the Caribbean 1 About the Caribbean 2 Information
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ