23 September 2008

The Giant Fray Bash

The Giant Fray Bash
by Keifus #
09/23/2008, 2:11 PM

It's been a long, slow summer, and we're all looking forward to cooler days, nice sleeping weather, and anticipate with no small dread the return to our serious routines. It doesn't feel the same as other autumns. The economic times are looking pretty grim lately, banking institutions are teetering and no one knows the damage they'll cause; an election is looming that feels it will be monumental however the vote goes, and it's sometimes turned individual bitternesses to something beyond the rational. But still, even though we've been on edge, there's something that draws us all here, some reason we're all invited, a mutual boredom or a kinship of spirit or some pathetic codepedence that we'd probably rather not admit. But at any rate, it's a good excuse for party, it's a beautiful night, and everyone's managed to show up for once. Sometimes we love it, and sometimes we can't be far enough away, but tonight the company feels right. It's as if we're swinging on the last precipice before the unknown, and damned if we're not going to live it up at least once.
Our bash is at an old convention hall, somewhere out in the underpopulated midwest. It's actually an ancient converted barn that sits solidly on the top of a small hill, where it pleasantly overlooks expanses of quiet fields behind. We start to trickle in around dusk, just as the crickets start chirping, and crunch up the gravel walk to the door. It's a beautiful night, the moon's rising, and we can smell the woodsmoke of the campfire that's roaring in back. Some early leaves shift a little about our feet. The light at the door of the hall fills the shadows of the enormous pine beams a deep, rich orange, and there's a faint thumping of bass from behind the door.

We walk in and find that there's already a crowd growing. Directly ahead of us is a dance floor, with a dj booth in the far corner, where a few guests are gesturing about what cds they want to play. A few people are dancing on the big wood floor right now, and a few are sitting or milling about in front of the narrow, uphoulstered institutional chairs that line three walls. The couple of streamers that someone had bothered to hang already dangle tattered from the massive beams. To the left, the hall stretches into a banquet space, and there's a hell of a spread. There are huge iced buckets of bottled beers, a keg with a hand pump, and a long banquet table filled with an endless arrangement of catered goodies, and some favorite dishes that various people have brought, their names Sharpied onto their Tupperware over a strip of masking tape. Everywhere, people are munching, talking, laughing.

There's a huge fieldstone fireplace on the back wall, swept clean, and people have thrown their jackets on the hearth in a big pile. Next to the fireplace is a full bar, with the end of the formica counter hinged up for whoever's interested in tending themselves or others. We thread our way between these fine fixtures and into the narrow paneled hallway that leads to the back door. It's already a little darker, and the glow of the fire pit is starting to fill the sky with shadows. People are walking around and smoking and we hear voices and laughter from unseen places. One group, not far away, is tuning up their guitars and a few people are starting to pick some notes.

We look at each other, and deeply breath in the night air. It's going to be a good night, a long one, with lots of stories.

Someone should tell them.

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