Belly of the Beast


After 17 years, my son is no longer a student. He’s been officially spit out of the coddling student womb and into the ‘real world’.  My heart is filled with pride and not a little jealousy. He is being pitched off a cliff; will he soar, fly, float, drift or crash? My guess is that he will do all of the above because that’s life. Congratulations to all the graduates! Live long happy lives and prosper!
We thought it would be fun to have the graduation party at Curtis’s house. For me, I love the prep time as much as the actual party. We went to Philadelphia on Wednesday to get set up, and the tables and chairs, and helium tank all came on schedule.  At one point, we had 3 generations lined up at the counter, dicing, frying, dipping and slicing, and I thought to myself: this is as good as it gets.  Grandmother, mother, son, all chatting and working in the kitchen, involved and supporting each other. Could I ask for anything better? It’s no wonder to me that people call the kitchen the heart of the house.
Later on, fueled by some mojitos, we blew up 500 hundred helium balloons and made huge balloon arches. It was as much fun watching Mary chase an errant balloon as if her life depended on it, as it was listening to my Mother make vaguely off-color jokes about latex and lubrication. The whole process of creating a celebration is a remarkable bonding experience.

The actual graduation was a classic affair, or as classic as an art student affair can be. Songs sung, speeches made and voila` these students became alumni.

We anticipated about 40 guests for a simple potluck BBQ in the backyard. What we wound up with was a trip to the belly of the beast. What I’m referring to is the ‘college keg party’. Oh my. Over the years, I’ve seen Curtis’s pictures and heard the stories. From my perspective it was an interesting phenomena, I was fascinated by the pong game, and I still  don’t understand the tubing apparatus, but this wasn’t something that I ever really wanted to experience first hand.  What I have learned is that my imagination was spot on….. a college keg party is exactly what you think it is.  My favorite drunk was a young woman whose body kept willowing into various “S” curves. She could no longer stand up straight, but just sort of willowed from spot to spot, managing to crash into counters and toppling glasses and bottles in her wake.  I’m guessing that at the peak hour, which would have been around 2:00 am, there were between 150 and 175 people.  A late arriving soul was seen crying over the beer tap.  It’s a universally recognized symbol that when an empty cup is placed over the tap, the keg is gone.  Now that is something that I’ve just learned. 
I also learned that in Fishtown, there are Block Captains, and they are whom you call to complain to about noise or other disturbances.  Our Block Captain came at around 2:30, and he introduced himself by the name of “Block Captain”, and very nicely asked us to keep the noise down.  These were film students, so we also thought it might be helpful if we turned off the sound and audio system where the films were being displayed on a spandex screen.
By 4:30 am, most of the revelers had gone, leaving behind a living room full of sleeping bodies.
The morning wasn’t as bad as you might think. With the help of some of the kids, we’d made a major dent in cleaning up the night before. The garbage had gone out on the sidewalk, the tables and chairs were stacked, and one by one, the bodies on the floor woke up and went about their business. This was it. The last hurrah, the last college keg party.  Sure, they could go to another friend’s party, but they would be the “Old Ones”, the one’s who had passed over to the other side.  Lauren washed the kitchen floor, Curtis watered the herb garden, and they started the next phase of their life.   And if they get lucky, one day, they will have 3 generations in the kitchen, laughing and cooking together. 

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