BEEN THERE, DONE
28 October 2002
"I guess I just can't relate to this any more," I overheard a middle-aged
woman saying to her middle-aged companion, as she glanced around the chaos at her heels,
and mentioned that her youngest child was in high school.
I could relate.
I was doing one of my "hide behind the camera lens so I can be at the party, but
not part of the party" deals. I'm an expert at it.
Usually it's because I get tongue tied when meeting new people. This time it was
more...I dunno..."I've done this before"...and though I might have
enjoyed it at the time, I've lost the momentum and it's hard to come into the middle of
"It" was Dr. G's annual pumpkin carving party, to which I'd been invited.
Normally, knowing that I would be entering a house full of people I didn't know and
probably had little in common with (and was too shy to find out if I did anyway), I would
have made an excuse, but he told me some of the kids in the neighborhood would be there,
and--hey-- how can photographer pass up the chance to be in a room with kids and pumpkins.
Ready made photo op.
Walt was off at the theatre loading the set for Candide into a truck to take it
back to the set shop, so I went by myself. Originally, I was going to ride my bike and
meet him there, but it turned out he couldn't go at all, and since I was bringing two
12-packs of soft drinks, I didn't think I wanted to try it on a bike--no matter how much
of a jockette I may be.
When I arrived, the party had been in progress for about half an hour and it was
already evident that this must be the Event of the Year for the ankle-biter set. There
were two huge jumping houses with lilliputians jumping up and down continually. The
mountain of pumpkins had already been attacked, and people all over the yard were carving
faces in vegetables. Dr. G had set up carving stations on the picnic table, on the lid to
the hot tub, on several portable tables around the yard, and carving was in full swing.
himself was hard at work on his own pumpkin, with all the precision and finesse of the
surgeon that he is. In the kitchen, Mrs. Dr. G in her shocking pink wig (quite
fetching) was dishing up a mean chili and presiding over a groaning board that continued
to groan all afternoon, as new people arrived with snacks to share. There was macaroni and
cheese, chili, tostitos, chips, spreads, dips, guacamole, stuffed eggs, meatballs,
cheeses, and enough desserts to send your blood sugar soaring just by walking through the
room and catching a whiff of chocolate.
A group of kids had set themselves up on the keyboard, drum, and tam tam and were
attempting to play along with a recording of "Monster Mash" by Dr. Demento.
(This was a scene that would be replayed several time throughout the afternoon.
By mid afternoon, The Clown arrived, dressed as a scarecrow (less scary for kids than
whiteface), to blow up balloons into animals, swords, torches, and other less identifiable
The kids kept coming and the parents kept coming and by 3 p.m., it was obvious that if
this was some of the "neighborhood kids" then Dr. G counted pretty much the
entire city of Davis as his neighborhood. It was like being back at the co-op nursery
school...if you combined three of them together into one place.
The median age of the people in the house was probably 4. The driveway looked like a
parking lot for strollers and tricycles.
But they were all having a marvelous time, there was remarkably little argument, they
diligently set to work on their jack-o-lanterns, the larger ones going to decorate the hay
bales around the house, the smaller ones to be taken home for their own Halloween
It was really a delightful party, if you were a kid, or a parent. Or a photographer. I
shot pretty much an entire SmartMemory card (about 150 pictures) and came home to put the
whole lot into slide show format so I can bring them to Dr. G in the morning.
I do have to admit that as much as I would have loved being there with all of our kids
30 years ago, I was glad to get into a car that didn't have a car seat in the back of it,
and come home to a quiet house.