It is officially the morning after.
The morning after our biennial Mardi Gras party. It use to be an annual party but let's face it, I am not as young as I was in 1999 when we started this thing.
There is a patio tent trying to launch in the cold February wind outside my kitchen window. Christmas party lights are strung throughout the entire upstairs. Giant Jenga lies in ruins on the basement floor. There is leftover alligator in my refrigerator and I am pretty sure the raccoons finished off one of the bottles of hurricane mix I forgot was on the deck.
And I am awash with the final stage of the Chronic Party Thrower: Amnesic Contentment.
This stage is defined by post party exhaustion, euphoria and delusional studying of the refrigerator calendar in search of the next potential party date.
However, to fully understand this 10th and final stage of the Chronic Party Thrower, we must examine the first nine stages.
Idea Blossom: a seed is planted, probably after watching a fantastic party scene in a movie which takes root and finally blossoms into the vocalization of "I can totally throw a party even better and more fantastic than the chocolate birthday party scene in Chocolat. Let's do this!"
Guest List Agonization: Vocalization quickly leads to creation of a Facebook event page and a work flyer complete with clever illustration which also doubles as neighborhood invites – which I forgot to distribute. The guest list grows like a snowball rolling down a Warner Brothers Cartoon Mountainside as anyone claiming to be a dependent on a tax form, as well as immediate and extended family – both genetic and philosophical – add names to the list.
|Not only this year's invite logo but also painted on my basement wall - 'borrowed' from the Broadway Oyster Bar.|
Supply Arrival Storage Shock: Waiting for RSVPs to begin rolling in is a rookie mistake. The MINUTE invites are mailed it is time to begin the supply order. Purchase a chest freezer to store perishables ordered from exotic locales such as Shreveport, La and Oriental Trading Company. Keeping a running list of forgotten items is essential. No one wants to be left without a mini drink umbrella.
|Yes. Gator. from http://www.cajungrocer.com/|
|apx 37 quarts of gumbo|
Regimented Prepping Mode: It is essential that prep begins withing one month of the planned event. Cleaning must include closets, under cupboard storage and the interior of the washer and dryer. Creating an Excel spread sheet is helpful, but not necessary. Just let that tiny What Would Mom Say voice in the back of your head guide you. Do I need to dust behind the television? "Yes. If you care for your guests' comfort, you will naturally dust in places they will never look because what if they did?"
|JoeyKatt does not approve of all the garland and vacuuming.|
Doubt and Panic: This is a fluctuating phase. It may begin any time after the public announcement of the planned event and once established will intermittently continue until the final guest has departed the venue. This stage is defined by doubt over the actual arrival of any actual guests-counteracted by manic listing of current and potential RSVPs as well as a list of former dependable guests augmented with a list of guests which you are praying don't actually show which produces a guilt so strong that you run out and introduce yourself to ten more people then immediately invite them too. Fear that there will not be enough food-treated triggers repeat Target and SAM's club runs. Other symptoms may include over decorating, party favors in the likeness of Elvis and purchase of enough fabric to create matching outfits for the entire family, including the cat.
Restful Oblivion: The brief ninety minutes prior to the arrival of the first guests when you foolishly think you are finally and completely ready. The sufferer will kick back on the couch with a cup of coffee, a handful of M&Ms and -if this is a malignant infection – a book.
Last Minute Panic Prep: Best observed from afar, or the basement, this is the moment when the party planner realizes that in fact, the shrimp is NOT thawed, the corn for the boil has not been cleaned and there is no ice. None.
|This is me. Defrosting the shrimp. T-10 minutes to guest arrival. I am not smiling. I am gritting my teeth and wondering if I need a CAT scan.|
Relax and Enjoy aka Have another Hurricane: Sadly, only advanced Party Throwers ever reach this stage and even then, most require one adult beverage over their self imposed limit to reach it resulting in that vague feeling that perhaps you DID sing background to Peaceful Easy Feeling...and then took the lead for the final, angsty verse.
|Yes. This is Giant Jenga. There was also a complimentary helmet for when it reaches 5 foot. And it did.|
Sleep Cleaning: Defined as manic cleaning of the entire house after the last guest has left; not all Chronic Party Throwers experience this phase. Prediction of potential sufferers can be determined by leaving two half empty cans of soda, a dirty coffee cup and a skillet used to saute chicken scattered around the house before bed. Those who are immune will go to bed and clean up next morning. Those infected with a mild case will empty and rinse the cans and place upside down in the dish drainer, fill the cup and skillet with warm water to soak before retiring. Terminal cases will rinse and drain the cans before placing in the appropriate recycle bins, scour the coffee stains from the cup, prep the coffee maker for next day and wash, dry and reorganize the pots and pans storage area before putting the skillet away. Attempts to treat this stage with more alcohol will only result in deep resentment the following morning. And no delicious left over potato hash.
This leads to the final and aforementioned stage:
Amnesic Contentment: Best defined as a complete, all encompassing desire to relive the entire event, from first guest arrival to delivery of the final Hurricane. Stories are told and retold, Facebook photos are shared and a pleasant melancholy satisfaction exudes from every pore leaving the Chronic Party Planner to suddenly remember that she failed to put the mini drink umbrellas by the Frozen Concoction Maker and now she is stuck with a gross of mini drink umbrellas which are just screaming for a new party in which to adorn guests tropical beverages...where's my calendar...
As a chronic sufferer of Chronic Party Planning, you might wonder just what spurs this insane behavior on?
I have done some deep reflection and I believe there are several motivating factors.
- It is the dead of winter and nothing warms the heart more than a house covered in holiday lighting.
- It is unbelievably fun to tell people you have 10 pounds of alligator in your fridge.
3. What better way to let the people that you see every day, as well as those you only see occasionally, that they are valued as an important part of your life.
If I could, I would invite every single person I know – in real life and internet life- to our Mardi Gras Party. Because Life's too short not to try alligator while sipping a Hurricane and waiting for your turn at Giant Jenga on the Coast of Illinois.
Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!!
Video courtesy of my Dad.
See you all...next time!
OOPS - as promised - here is the GUMBO recipe:
Saute in a heavy saucepan or dutch oven:
1 diced onion
1 diced bell pepper
2Tbs olive oil or butter
After 2 minutes sprinkle with Tony Cacherre Cajun Spice (available in the seafood aisle)
Stir and then allow to cook undisturbed over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan - it will look slightly burned. but don't worry.
Add 1 large 32oz can crushed tomatoes and 6cups chicken broth along with another 1-2 Tbs of the Cajun spice.
Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
Add 2-3 cups of shredded, cooked chicken.
(This time I cooked the chicken breasts in the crock pot for 4 hours with a very liberal sprinkling amount of Cajun Spice. Alternately, you can bake the chicken with spice on it or even use canned or rotisserie chicken if in a hurry. Just be sure to add more Cajun Spice.)
Allow to simmer slightly covered over low heat for as long as possible but for at least another 15 minutes
You can also add sausage, shrimp, crab or my favorite - Krab, with a K. (Fake crab legs).
Serve with a scoop of rice.