I drove down Saturday, in a comparatively quick and uneventful trip. I got to M's about an hour before the party was officially supposed to start. In that hour, M and A both managed to ask for my help in the neighbors' kitchen, as a pretext to tell their side of the Great Debate of the event: the entree. As best I can tell, they had agreed to serve roast beef. However, what M's family calls roast beef is what is generally known as pot roast (which is, in fact, roasted beef). When M discovered this, a further lack of communication ensued. The end result is that M made pot roast, A made roast beef, and someone (daernhelm?) dubbed the main course Pot Roast Beef. My opinion was that having a couple of options isn't bad, and I much prefer pot roast anyway, but that it was a shame they had had such an unfortunate miscommunication. Luckily, this was a sufficiently neutral opinion to please everyone.
After that, it was a relief to escape upstairs to change. I wore the top half of my bridesmaid's dress from the Wedding of Doom (TM) with a black skirt. Once dressed, I grabbed my camera and headed downstairs to take some "before" pictures. All the pictures are up in the Gallery. M's mother did all the flower arrangements herself, and they were gorgeous, so everyone should admire them.
Then the rest of the guests started arriving. I was delighted to renew my acquaintance with H - who also went off with me to the neighbors' kitchen, so she could ask me what was going on with the beef! The locals were all relatively prompt, daernhelm was late but not unreasonably so, but physicsninja took a Three-Hour Tour. E tried to steer him in with the phone and a street atlas, but eventually they told him just to stay put, and a rescue mission was mounted. Meanwhile, when A started talking about how all of us were her friends, but we were all different levels of friends, a mini-RPG was born. All the gamer-types in the room discussed the experience required to change levels, and what special powers were conveyed at each level. H wanted a dirigible submarine, and we decided that physicsninja must be delivering it - it was the most plausible excuse we could think of for his crossing the Potomac.
Advice to travelers: To avoid this particular kind of Three-Hour Tour, if you are going to a specific location inside a city large enough to have a subway system, get your directions from a resident, not from Mapquest. If going to DC in specific, remember that there are quadrants to the city, and that NorthWest and SouthEast are very different sorts of places.
At any rate, eventually everyone returned and we went in to dinner.
Obligatory Cast of Characters, beginning in the same corner of the room as last year:
Me, aka I. If you don't know me, you haven't been reading long enough... I took the end, because it left my right arm blissfully free of encumbrances. The dining room is not quite large enough for eleven, and last year I was between demongrey and daernhelm. The combined shoulder-span left me rather confined. This year I chose a little more physical freedom.
To my left, daernhelm. Well, at least I did get to sit next to the only single man at the party...
Next to him was physicsninja. I was pleased to see him again, and I hope daernhelm was as well.
Next, K, A's best female friend. She was a little under-dressed for the occasion, since she was invited after she was already on the road. I rather liked her. I realized, actually, that no matter what criticisms I may have about A, I do think she has excellent taste in friends.
C, M's boyfriend, was between K and A, who was at the head of the table. M was on the other side of A.
Next was J, of the amazingly acerbic wit, and M(2), his girlfriend. Most of the locals were meeting M(2) for the first time also. She has quite a sense of humor. She'd have to, to date J.
Then H, who I've quite enjoyed conversing with, each time I've been down there. We seem to banter well together, mostly. At very least, I laugh at her jokes and she laughs at mine. Finally, her boyfriend E, who's a DC cop. I was expecting to like him, from what she's said about him. He's definitely a cop, not a geek, but decidedly a good guy.
Most of dinner was fairly uneventful. The pot roast turned out very well, despite some preparation mishaps. I'm told the roast beef did as well. Carrots, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh-baked rolls accompanied the beef. There was red wine and cranberry juice to drink, but I stuck with the water. A managed to snap one of the forks in half. This is M's parents' formal flatware. No one is quite sure how it happened. H spent most of the meal threatening to throw bread at whoever was being the most vexing at the time. When she finally did it, her target was daernhelm! He made it up to her by spilling his wine onto the roast beef platter. Apparently the wine went very well with the beef. Meanwhile, johnstevensaul called with some news which was apparently old news, but none of us had heard. So, we passed the phone around the table to all who were interested. What's a formal dinner party without some random strange interruption, anyway?
I did the first set of dishes between the meal and dessert(2 kinds of cheesecake), and a few more after dessert. Then, after a bit more conversation, M eventually kicked everyone out. M, C and I did triage on the rest of the mess, and then retreated upstairs for sleep.
I have had better nights for sleeping. While I didn't have any trouble getting to sleep, I had rather horrible dreams all night long. (When a dream about explosive diarrhea is a significant improvement, you know it's been a bad evening...) So, I slept pretty late in the morning.
We breakfasted on apple cake, and then did the cleaning. Mostly, I washed, C dried, and M both supplied me with more dirty dishes and put away the clean ones. We had The Princess Bride on in the background. This took most of the morning.
Once everything was clean, I drove us to C's apartment. I was thinking, on the way, that it's a good thing driving doesn't scare me any more. I went through lots of bits of DC (including passing the Metro stop nearest to AU, which means that if my memory were just a little better, I could connect the two parts of DC that I know) without any problem, although I did run a stop sign that I didn't see fast enough. Then we got on the Beltway for ten miles or so. I remember, about six years ago, being very afraid of the Beltway.
Incidentally, for those who know why I mention it, I am now very clear on the location of Falls Church. C's place is technically just outside Falls Church, but has a Falls Church mailing address. So, while Falls Church is in fact outside the Beltway, it's probably about as far as Madison is from 287.
I went mostly to meet C's cats, Tuxedo and Oreo. There are a few pictures up here. He needs to find a new home for them before M can move in, because she's allergic. I wanted to see how I liked them, on the theory that with any luck, in six months or so my living situation would permit me to take them, and that's about the right timeframe anyway. They aren't the cats I would have chosen for myself, but they're sweet and friendly, and they're going to need a home, so all things being equal, I probably will take them.
They are brothers, about two and a half. Tuxedo is the more outgoing of the two, and a little bit larger. He wasn't feeling well (he's being medicated for a UTI), but he still came over to investigate me and my purse within five minutes of my arrival, and insisted on being petted regularly. Oreo is more shy, but came out to play after a little bit, and eventually did let me pet him. C says they don't know their names, but I think maybe he just doesn't talk to them enough.
We went to lunch at Baja Fresh, and by the time we were finished, I decided it was probably a little late to get the massage M had promised me in exchange for my amazing dishwashing capabilities. She's going to owe it to me instead. So, we went back to C's apartment, I played with the cats for a little longer, and then I headed home.
I'm very pleased to see that my car is still doing considerably better than 30 miles to the gallon on highways. Her gas mileage on local roads has declined somewhat over the years, but the highway fuel consumption is still pretty respectable.
So, home again, safe and sound. And then a crazy day at work today, which is why it's past midnight and I'm just now getting this posted. What is this thing called sleep, that I seem to recall?