1. Who are all these strange people sleeping on your couches?
Granted, some of them look a little familiar, so they could actually be invited guests who decided they might not be in the best condition to get on the nation’s highways. But it’s hard to tell. Let’s face it. After several hours of drinking, and even more hours of your inebriated face mashed into couch leather, you’re not exactly ready for any type of beauty contest. People just don’t look as sexy as they thought they did at 2am in the morning, sucking on a bottle of wine and doing a shimmy dance with a tiki torch.
Of course, you could just poke one of the snoring droolers, and then demand identification papers, but that might be going a bit too far. After all, these poor folk are going to have a hard enough time as it is by just waking up in a strange environment. All that confusion about things being in the wrong place, possible guilty feelings concerning slurred words they may have uttered after the fifth shot of tequila, and the growing realization that the bra they are now wearing is not their own.
Just let them sleep. They should come out of the coma in a little while. If not, proceed to the kitchen and make cleaning noises. Bang on something metal until they scream themselves awake. If you still don’t recognize the couch guests once they are somewhat mobile, be sure to check their pockets and purses before they stagger out the door, and make a mental note to change the locks before the next party. Or just move to a new house, might be easier in the long run.
2. Who is in the bathroom, and why are they not making any noise?
This is always a risky quest to undertake. You can’t just barge in, because they might be engaged in an intimate activity that does not require a studio audience. They could be resting in between bouts of recycling. Or they could be lying face down in the tub. One never knows. If you don’t feel mentally prepared to deal with all these possibilities, then make somebody on one of the couches go find out who it is. It’s the least they can do after belching into your grandma’s afghan all night.
3. What is that mess on the kitchen table?
It’s a fact of life that most dishes which look amazing and delicious when first presented will deteriorate overnight into something else entirely, most usually a congealed vat of grease with some odd bits trapped just beneath the surface. (Yes, you were shoving THAT into your mouth at one point last night, rhapsodizing over the flavor and licking your fingers clean. Now it looks like something that Oprah would pull along in a little red wagon when she’s doing a segment on weight loss.)
And the troubling bit is that you KNOW you put away all the delicate goodies hours ago, supervising the two drunken people who had the manners to ask if you needed any help, while the rest of the carefree crowd avoided the kitchen entirely. (This “clean-up duty” is the best way to separate your friends: There are those who love you and will immediately race to assist when they see you scraping queso dip off the wall, and there are those who are just using you, hiding in another room until everything is sparkly and then wandering in, pretending to be devastated that they didn’t make it in time to help you out.
Oh, and then there’s third group: Those folks who don’t give a damn if anything gets cleaned up and don’t even try to offer help. They apparently believe that little hostess fairies flitter in and tidy things up, and their clean-up efforts are limited to throwing an empty beer can in the general direction of the trash can. These people suck. Interestingly enough, these are the same people who don’t understand why no one wants to be in a relationship with them.
Anyway, if some of this perishable food is back out on the table, then it means some little piglet burrowed into the fridge, and then encountered some type of issue that prevented him or her from returning the containers and covering their tracks. Which might explain…
4. Why won’t the refrigerator door close?
Holy cow, who let loose some billy goats in here? Your organizational skills from the night before are no longer in evidence, with the perfectly-stacked and arranged containers now all over the place. We have guacamole dripping out of the produce drawer, potato salad in the egg tray, and half-eaten Pop-tarts shoved in between the condiment bottles.
There’s not an inch of available space. But that didn’t stop the last person who tried to shove something in here. Nope, they apparently just opened the door, hurled an armload of containers and plastic baggies through the air, and then slammed the door mostly shut, hoping the weight of the door would keep things in place until they could get in their car and drive away. I really need to get new friends. At least some nicer ones.
5. Who jacked up the stereo?
This thing was fine when I went to bed. But there must have been an adventure of some kind once prissy Brian quit whining about wine spillage and left the hard-core partiers to their own devices. One of the stereo speakers was on the front porch. (No idea. Did Eva Peron stop by and need to make a statement to the neighborhood?) The bass was turned all the way up, because drunk people don’t think there can ever be too much of that. And the radio station was now set to a Christian talk show. I guess somebody needed some spiritual guidance after they ran out of Jaegermeister.
6. Why is my throat raw?
This could be the result of anything, really, considering the crazed mix of the crowd, but I’m leaning toward two explanations: One is that I had enough beer to decide that I suddenly understood world politics and needed to share that with everybody for hours. Or there had been singing. Probably singing. Nobody can belt out some Elton John like I can after being fortified with Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
7. What the hell happened on the patio?
Generally, knowing my friends as I do, I can usually piece together what may have taken place in a given area based on the physical evidence. Other times, I don’t have a clue. Whatever happened out here required that most of the patio furniture be relocated in odd positions, power cords knotted together in an intricate web and hung from the gutter (did they need roof access for some reason?), and the spokes of the patio umbrella were now pointing the other way, toward the sky, creating an impromptu tribute to Marilyn Monroe and that pesky subway steam. Some stories are just better left untold.
8. Dear God, did we really drink all that beer?
These are the moments, reviewing the towering stacks of beer cans and wine bottles, spread out over the patio like an alcoholic Stonehenge, when you realize that something fundamental really needs to change in your life. Then the moment passes and you just go back in the house, ready to sit around on your butt all day and watch meaningless television until you get thirsty again.
9. What is wrong with the siding on the end of the house?
How did they manage to damage THAT? With their car? The house is at least four feet away from the nearest part of the driveway. How do you get that confused? And you didn’t even leave a note. These people just have no sense of decency. Or direction.
10. If a guest is passed out in the yard, and they are closer to their car on the street than your front door, are you still legally responsible for their well being?
No. This is international protocol, understood by all legislative bodies. If the victims are closer to the car, especially if one or both of their arms are outstretched as if lusting for the vehicle, frozen in time like a Pompeii villager, it is a clear indication that they were done with your particular social extravaganza and they were moving on. Legal liability has ended. Likewise, it’s also international law that any items your guests leave behind, intentionally or not, automatically revert to the ownership of the host. Especially if money is involved.
Because you’re going to need that cash when the city cites you for the giant cow statue, stolen from the local Western Sizzler and now sitting on top of your house. (At least now we understand the rope ladder on the patio.) But don’t cry for me, Angus-tina. I’ll make those little cattle rustlers suffer for their sins, whoever they are…
(Originally posted in “The Sound and the Fury” on 06/01/10.)