Monday 27 July 2009

Please let it be soft.

“ The nature of parties has been imperfectly studied. It is however, generally understood that a party has a pathology, that it is a kind of an individual and that it is likely to be a very perverse individual. And it is also generally understood that a party hardly ever goes the way it is planned or intended.”
John Steinbeck. Cannery row.

There was a party here last night.

I went to bed at one o’clock in desperate need to be horizontal – a combination of aches and pains from a previous day’s canoeing and the combined consequence of peaking too early and barbequeing too many sausages.

I wasn’t the first to leave the party, but I was the first to be accused of betrayal. But by then it was my teenage son’s party - as it had always been intended.

I slept fitfully, waking and falling asleep as the rhythms of the sound system alternated between the crudest Rap and melodic Reggae. Thank goodness teenagers appreciate Bob Marley.

I emerged the next morning expecting to find several comatose teenagers littered in the garden but all I found were plastic cups and a tent where none had been before. The only damage was a bizarely dissected ping-pong ball lying next to the one that had been trampled by drunken steps.

Somewhere in the middle of the night’s morning my wife had joined me.

She informed me that she believed the party was over; the blissful silence of the loudspeakers seemed to confirm this, the guttural roars from the garden suggested otherwise.

“Where is everybody sleeping?” I asked through sluggish lips.

“There are two in the sweat lodge, one on the sofa and three in Minnie’s room, several on the trampoline and the rest upstairs………..Oh, and Loui is sleeping with his girlfriend in our bed.”

I was awake NOW. And in a worrying state that will last for the next 9 months.

“I think it went well,” she added.
“Maybe it was good that we kept it small.”
“Hank’s nice.”
“………………..? Hank?”

Apart from this conversation I have some strange snapshot memories of the evening.

For example, Simon, who travelled from Canada to be here, sitting alone reading a copy of Gardening without Chemicals – a book he had salvaged from the pile of old books that I had planned to burn on the bonfire unless someone took them home.

The books have sat for a long time in the back of the old van where i chose to sleep and their burning represented my own parting of ways with the past that is represented by my pre-adult son.

It is amazing how many people are upset by the notion of burning books, it wakes a deep memory of fascism – even amongst those that refused to buy any when I tried to sell them at the local junk market.

This time I lay them around the expectant fire and invited everyone to take what they considered worthy of redemption.

I will try not to judge but I am surprised Gardening without Chemicals was saved, the collected works of Carlos Casteneda condemmed - too MANY chemicals?

In the dark, two books survived the flames, a collection of English Folk Songs and Eoin Colfer’s The Wish List.

Simone suggested that there was an omen here and he urged me to read the thirteenth word on the thirteenth page of The Wish List and the sentence that followed.

The word? Please.

The sentence? Please, let it be soft.

Nine months to find out.

More about Living with Teenagers here.


DaveESLetc said...

I enjoyed that post immensely.


popps said...

Thanks for dropping in Dave, come again!

Anne Hodgson said...

Loved reading this.

Book burnings are evil, perhaps its the solemnity of the act that brings it all home. Put them in with the old newspapers and you're actually recycling.

Here on Drummond Island you'd think the library is a book reseller. Anything that hasn't been borrowed for a few years, out it goes.

But what can you do? Stop people from writing? Course not.

popps said...

Anne, I recently tried to read my way through the complete set of Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective stories.
I started buying them as cheaply as possible through E-bay and one of the highlights for me was opening a parcel in this field in France and opening a book stamped L.A public library, withdrawn from loan.
It seemed hyper-exotic!