A recent survey showed people dread hosting a party even more than they dread a job interview.
Not surprising. Just look at the somersaults parents turn to get the basement guest bedroom redone before graduation even though nobody will see the room during the party.
Last week, I hosted a summer family gathering. There were so many things to do before the guests arrived. The yard had to be mowed and trimmed. I had to buy a bigger charcoal broiler to smoke more ribs. I wanted to neaten up the woodpile.
The dishwasher had to be replaced after the engine ingested shards of broken glass last winter. The new one had to arrive before the party. Somebody had to sweep the cobwebs off the side of the house and out of the doorways.
I needed to take the skid steer and scrape the driveway a bit so it was clean of weeds. I wanted to burn the brush pile and trim the windbreak.
The slopes on either side of the driveway had to be mowed. I wanted to take the brush mower and push back the encroaching saplings a ways from the yard. More than anything, I wanted to wash all the windows.
To make a long story short, although I got the lawn mowed and trimmed, the big mower broke before the ditch got mowed.
The new char-broiler was a bust. I did a test run and it never got hot enough to cook the ribs. I had to run them through the little old kettle broiler to get them done. This fall, hunters will find a new char broiler with a sledgehammer dent in the side laying on its side in the woods.
The new dishwasher will come sometime next month, I don't know when. They didn't have it in stock. The delivery guy only works on Monday. It will be at least three weeks.
I scratched and scraped with the skid steer to make the gravel drive look spiffy, but managed to cut the buried coaxial cable to the satellite dish in the process.
Dad burned the brush pile on his own volition, so that got done without incident. I brushed away some of the cobwebs, although there were many new ones by morning.
That left the windows. To get to the top windows on the front of the house, I put the extension ladder in the box of the old Ford Ranger, extended it to its full height and crawled to the very end.
Oh my. The ladder wobbled. My knees wobbled. I am scared of heights. I looked down twenty-five feet and froze.
Fire departments get kittens out of trees, but do they ever rescue amateur window washers from the top of a ladder? Eventually, I struggled down, drenched in sweat.
I couldn't reach the top, so I put the rag on the end of a pancake flipper, crawled back up and tried to reach the highest spot with that. Didn't work.
Enough! I said. I am going to hire to get this done. Considering my record with the charbroiler and the satellite cable, I was probably due to fall off the ladder anyway.
That evening, those dirty windows stared down at me and I had to try it again. By sunset, I had all but finished the outside. I would do the inside in the morning.
I woke up at six a.m. Outside, I could hear the rumble of Dad on the cultivator.
Dad's goal? To cultivate every square inch of ground on the whole farm before the company showed. None of the visitors would see the fields. Not one. But the cultivating had to get done.
It was then I realized how insane this all was. I had fallen into the trap of irrational over-preparation for a party. My window-washing madness was as stupid as those people who remodel the basement bedroom before graduation.
I rolled over and slept in.
I mean, for crying out loud, the people I hoped to impress weren't going to care.
Most of them have bifocals, trifocals, cataracts, glaucoma or retinal issues. They're just happy to see the windows before they try to walk through them.
The ribs would turn out fine. Nobody would care about the un-mowed grass.
As it happened, my aunt washed the dishes in the sink without even noticing that the dishwasher was broken.
Nobody cared that the woodpile was nothing but chaos and quack.
The party was a success, even with cobwebs on the window of the upstairs bathroom.
As always, it was a waste of time to worry.