“Were we invited to this party?”
There were no cars parked outside or people milling around the front door. We were at the end of a cul-de-sac, standing where the GPS led us and there were no signs of life. A trash can lay on its side at the end of a drive; all of the windows were closed up tight and the blinds were drawn in each of the identical houses. It was not an encouraging scene.
No one responded when my party date/husband texted the friend-of-a-friend to whose house we waited outside like census takers double checking the address and comparing notes. The only things missing were the signature clip boards and name badges.
Instead we carried a bag of chips, salsa and a bottle of wine and escalated our communication efforts by calling this friend-of-a-friend.
It’s the new age way of things, text and then call. Calling is a last resort, when all else fails. Like come on, just text us back, I thought impatiently as my inner teenager started to show.
Suddenly, an event more exciting than a New Message coming across one’s iphone screen. A real person emerged from the house and it was our friend. We both rushed towards him like two lost souls towards the promise of salvation.
“How long have you guys been out here? You should have just come on in.”
He was blissfully unaware that in some neighborhoods not far from this one, walking into a stranger’s house without permission was more than enough to enact the Castle Doctrine.
Now properly invited inside, we followed Friend through the doorway where a sea of strange faces awaited us. They suspended pretzels and cheese stuffed bread balls in mid-air, conversations went on hold indefinitely, all activity ceased until our acceptability could be determined.
“Hi, I’m Puney,” I said with a slow and non-threatening wave. It is sometimes best to not make any sudden movements around strangers.
“I’m Neb,” the tall handsome man next to me introduced himself, confident and unafraid of making sudden movements around strangers, breaking my stranger rule #1 within the first sixty seconds. He darted around the counter and dropped off our offerings and grabbed a plate, ready to dig into the beanie weenies, cookies, and chips.
A shaggy with dog with a low swaying belly ran out from underneath of the cluster of legs.
It smelled my toes and wiggled its chubby back end where a tail might have been at one time, perhaps delighted by the smell of JibberJabber, my cat, that patiently waited for our return at home.
“That’s Cooper, he won’t bite,” a faceless female voice from the still watching and silent crowd explained.
I reached down to pet Cooper and instead of receiving the pets, it turned around and sat down right on top of my feet. It looked up at me with an excited doggy smile as a hot whoosh of gas escaped from its rear end and whirled around my bare toes.
It got up and ran off, disappearing back into the cluster of legs.
My face must have shown my disbelief. Was I just the victim of chemical warfare?
“I think that dog just farted on my feet.”
The faceless female voice emerged with a real face and body, laughing and unapologetic.
“Looks like you just got initiated.”