Where’s The Party?

Posted by admin on December 8, 2011 in Life Lessons |

The holidays are upon us and once again the holiday party scene is in full swing. I have not been to a party yet, which perhaps is a good thing, given my history of holiday parties.

It’s not that I don’t like a good Christmas party. In fact, I had a pseudo gathering in Key West with some of my fellow pirates at Pirates in Paradise (PiP) last week. We could call it a PiPmas Party, I guess. There were Oysters Rockefeller and Washington Reisling to enjoy, and a lot of good friends. Oh, and even the Grinch showed up. How could it get any better?

Finding the party was another matter. It was at the Truman Annex in Key West, which used to be base housing at one point. Now it is a catacomb of complexity, where none of the house numbers mean anything and you have to navigate through it using clues that only Indiana Jones could follow.

It went something like this: Veer off the main road into the gardens. Head down the path. Near the pool take a right. If you went past the pool you went too far. Follow the path on the far side down the way to the opening between fences. Head down the fence line. Don’t turn at the first path, but head to the road where the old pickup is parked. We’re two doors up from there.

Needless to say, I got lost. First, I couldn’t find the garden. You can see it plain as day in the daylight, but it’s really hard to spot at night. We walked past it three times. Finally, found it, but there was a corn maze of paths, so it wasn’t long before I was lost again. After several more wrong turns, I found the party. Whew!

This is not the first time I’ve been lost on my way to a holiday party.

It’s not that I am direction challenged, either. I have a fairly good sense of direction. In fact, once I get to a place, I can go back to it a decade later and still find it. This is particularly true in the Northwest, where my internal compass is set. I instinctively know where north is there. And yes, the two mountain ranges help a lot with that. Down in Florida, I have no idea where north is, or east or west for that matter. It’s just a mish-mash of misdirection.

I would like to say that this particular lost story occurred in Florida, so I could blame it on the misdirection mish-mash. But it happened in Washington State. Everett to be exact.

A coworker of mine at Providence General Hospital was having a holiday party. I really liked Lori (not in that way) and thought that the journey up to the north would be a fun family thing to do to put us all in the holiday spirit.

This was when I was married to Sharon and my daughter Becca lived with us. So I RSVPd and we made plans to go. On the appointed day, we all dressed in our holiday finery. Yes, I wore a tie even.

We picked up a really cute hostess gift for Lori and her husband. I always like to bring a little something along as a thanks for inviting us. Sharon wrapped it all up so that we could just put it under the tree for them to find later.

As people in Seattle know, it’s rude to show up on time to a party, any party. A half hour after the noted time is considered a polite arrival timeframe. Here in Florida, every one is spot on the dot. If a party is at 7, everyone is there by 7:10, latest. Took me a while to get used to that.

Anyway, so off we headed. I had the address and had gotten directions from Lori. The drive took about an hour. Sharon served as the navigator, reading out which exit to take and the turns to make as we entered the development where Lori lived. So far, so good.

We pulled up to the house and double checked the address. Perfect. Other guests were arriving as well so we just followed them into the house. One of Lori’s friends greeted us.

Becca placed our gift under the tree and all three of us headed into the kitchen. The party was in full swing. Soon we all had wonderful holiday drinks and were enjoying the nice spread that had been laid out. Man, the Kloes family knew how to throw a party.

We made idle chat with the other guests and then it dawned on me. I hadn’t seen Lori. Strange she would be in the kitchen with us. She was the hostess. Perhaps she had just run to the store or had last minute family emergency. No biggy, I call her and see if I can be any help.

I excused myself and went out to the car as I had left my cell phone to charge there. I got on the phone.

“Hey Lori,” I said. “Where are you?”

“At my party, Robb,” she replied. “Where are you?”

“At your party,” I said. “At least I think it’s your party.”

About that time I saw Sharon and Becca running from the house. They had figured out our faux pas at the same time I had. They were even smart enough to grab the gift back from under the tree.

We were at the right house address, but the wrong street. They were at 1245 South 20th Avenue. We were at 1245 South 20th Street. Same house number, wrong party.

Who would have ever thought that two houses two streets apart and looking virtually identical would have a holiday party on the same night at the same time.

Suffice it to say, everyone at the right party had a great laugh about the mixup. And ever since, the “have I ever told you the time I went to the wrong Christmas party” story has been the hit at every holiday soiree I’ve been to since.

And ever since, I not only double check, but triple and quadruple check, ever address I ever try to find. And yes, I call the host before I knock to see if they can see me standing outside waving at them.

Out on the Treasure Coast, wondering if the party tonight is in #406 Building A, B or C,

– Robb

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