“At every party there are two kinds of people -- those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.” – Ann Landers

When my significant other told me about a party we’d been invited to last Saturday night, I was cautiously agreeable (not that that had anything to do with whether we were going or not). 

Me: Whose party is it?

Kathy: A friend of mine from work. 

Me: Who’s going to be there?

Kathy: About 35 people.

Me: Like who?

Kathy: You don’t know any of them.

Me: Not even one?

Kathy: No

Me: Then why am I going?

Kathy: Because she asked us.

Me: I don’t know.

Kathy: (sensing she was losing me) They have margarita machines, lots of beer and are serving steak.

Me: Sounds fun.

The party we had been invited to was Kathy’s friend’s husband’s “fifth,” 50th birthday and when we got to the house our hostess greeted us at the front door. She immediately started introducing us to her friends, some who had come all the way from St. Louis. 

The St. Louis group was huddled in front of the TV, watching their beloved Cardinals fight through the end of a long game with the Cubs. They were understandably distracted during the introductions, and I sympathized with their plight, secretly longing to join them on the couch. That wasn’t to be however as our host was already moving us outside.

On the deck most of the guests gathered around the bar. As Kathy had promised there were choices of beer, wine and margaritas – traditional or strawberry. The bartender was smiling as he shook my hand and handed me one of his red tequila drinks. 

I thanked him and introduced myself (it’s always good to know the bartender). I found out he also was a birthday honoree, as was his wife, who was the third member of the birthday triumvirate. 

I wasn’t sure what number they were celebrating, but she looked to be closer to the third 30th. Then someone handed me another drink. Things were progressing nicely.

I sipped and noticed near the edge of the large deck sat an impressive grill; no American male is complete without one. Its chrome finish and wonderful smell of something cooking drew me closer. Three men stood there looking down at it, helping each other cook some shrimp. They discussed marinade amounts, temperatures and when to turn. 

As the experts kept a close watch on the shrimp, another hunter-gatherer arrived with some cardboard boxes full of beef. Filet mignons to be exact. 

One of the cooks gave up his shrimp watch to take over the main course. He pulled out the bacon-wrapped beauties and set them carefully over the fire. I introduced myself and found out he was from New Jersey. 

“How you doin?” I said in my best Tony Soprano accent. He didn’t smile and turned back to the meat.

‘Great, I offended the steak guy,’ I said to myself.

“OK, see you guys later,” I said, deciding to go check on my friend the bartender.

On the way over I asked one of the female Cardinal fans how the game came out. 

“We lost. Bad coaching, pitching and hitting.” Not too baseball savvy, I said, “Uh, the steaks look good.” It was all I had. Thankfully, she walked away before I made things worse. Yeah I was making friends fast. 

But after a wonderful dinner I felt I’d done OK. I mean, how many new friends does a guy really need? When it ended I felt good about an invite to the sixth 50th, and as we said our goodbyes even steak guy was smiling. But maybe he was just a Cubs’ fan.

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