Just like this…but with more Bill Mueller ass discussion
Usually, people don’t make fun of you the first few times they meet you. There’s often a warming up period, a dance of social niceties wherein you tiptoe around each other and try not to offend the other person. Before you get to know each other’s sensibilities and senses of humor you stay away from off-color jokes and follow up comments with, “Um, you know, no offense or anything.” Even the most socially outgoing people tend to be on their best behavior when faced with new social situations.
Social conventions and courtesy? Meet the Surviving Grady crew.
It’s a bizarre thing, this new-fangled invention called the Internet. No longer simply a dwelling place for pedophiles and inmates (well, not entirely) it’s actually become a place where you can meet some pretty cool, like-minded people. And I don’t mean that in the “frustrating to the point of banging your head against a wall Match.com” way or even the “Oh look, here are other people that share my passion for collecting and stuffing intact road kill!” way. I mean it more in the way that it never ceases to amaze me how similar people tend to find each other across the vast reaches of cyberspace. Even when their shared passion is something as seemingly pedestrian as a baseball team, or, in fact THE baseball team, the Boston Red Sox.
In actuality, I blame Beth. It’s all her fault. This started months ago when we began emailing by chance after she happened upon this here fledgling blog and informed me, by force (if force can be gleaned via email correspondence) that I HAD TO become a member of the Surviving Grady message board. Actually, I believe her exact message was “We need you over there.” Some would call that prescient.
Fast forward to last Thursday. After having spent the past few months on “the board,” meeting a few of the more infamous faces in person and developing actual, real-life friendships with some of them (nearly satisfying my worries that none of them are, in point of fact, axe murderers waiting for the appropriate moment to strike), I thought I’d have all the local kids over for dinner at my new place. Seemingly a great idea considering that I’m not entirely unpacked yet and what I really needed was cooking for a crowd. But you have to understand, I just moved to Brookline from Weymouth which, if we’re going by its affect on my social life, may as well have been Siberia. No one came to visit me. Ever. Despite the fact that I lived on the beach and was in possession of a grill. No dice. Too far away. So now that I’m on a T line and easily accessible by many forms of transportation, I’m very nearly begging people to come over. I offer them food, drinks and, in one memorable instance, boobie cake. People tell me they’d come anyway since I’m apparently pretty cool to hang out with and my apartment is slammin’ but truth be told, I actually like hosting. I must get it from my mother.
When Beth arrived, I answered the door in my apron. And the thing is, despite the fact that this was only the third time we’d actually “met” in person, I knew instantly that she was going to make fun of me. I was not wrong.
“Look how domestic you are!” she said.
“Heh,” I laughed, “Shut up.”
When Sam called a few minutes later, and I ran down the street to rescue her, I forgot to take the apron off.
“You made me walk down the street in my apron!” I said to her. “What will my neighbors think?”
“But,” she said, holding up a grocery bag, “I brought strawberries!”
“Hmph, okay then.”
I forgot to introduce Beth to Sam because I figured since I’d met both of them before, surely they’d met each other. After all, these were the girls who’d been the founding forces behind “Three Chicks Talk Football” (along with Mer), and who adopted my wayward spirit and blustery prose sometime around the playoffs. Turns out, there was no need for an introduction. Sam is very clearly Sam and Beth is very clearly Beth. They knew each other instantly.
That’s another thing I’ve learned about this SG crew, their voices, whether on the board, on their respective blogs or in person are highly unique and distinctive. They are very much who they appear to be. No speechless wallflowers among this group.
“What do you think of this color?” I asked them, gesturing to my newly hunter-green bedroom walls. I’d been a bit trepidatious about the color since everyone I told about it kept saying, “Are you sure? That’s awfully dark.”
“Well,” Sam, a University of Michigan student shrugged, “Michigan State. But other than that, it’s great.”
Steve arrived next, bearing a bottle of wine. “What are we having?” he asked.
“Zucchini with feta, chicken florentine and key lime cheesecake. Oh, and a baby spinach and mushroom salad.” I said.
“Damn,” he said, extracting the bottle of red wine from the paper bag, “I guessed wrong.”
“That’s all right,” I said, stirring the bubbling Florentine sauce, “I like red better than white anyway.”
Steve made his way into my bedroom while I continued to futz around in the kitchen. I figured he could take care of introductions on his own and when I heard a shrieked, “STEVE BRADY!” from the other room, I knew that at least the three of them weren’t standing there, staring at each other, waiting for me to come in with dry macaroni and glitter glue and to suggest an arts and crafts bonding project.
When Caitriona appeared a few moments later, I’d just put the chicken into the oven for the final warming and was shuttling back and forth between my bedroom where, for some reason everyone stationed themselves, and my kitchen.
Annette arrived last, bearing bread from the North End. She’d been to my place before and when I opened the door she greeted me by saying, “That was the longest T ride of my life!” She made her way upstairs and joined the rest of the group in my bedroom.
“Um, you guys,” I said, standing in the doorway, observing everyone spread out in my room, standing against walls, reclining on the bed and sitting on the floor, “You can sit on actual chairs in the living room if you want. I even have a couch!”
“Pshaw,” Beth said, “We’re staying here. Can’t you bring the food in to us?”
I laughed, “I’m glad you all like my bedroom. But I have, like, big people chairs and an actual dining room table to eat on. I think this means I’m a grown up.”
“Is that a hint?” Beth said as I opened a bottle of wine.
“Food, kids!” I said, gesturing towards the dining/living room. “Come and get it.”
Just call me the Pied Piper.
We all spread out around the table and Sam said the Ha-Motzi because, well, why the hell not, really?
As Steve pointed out and as Beth has already detailed in her post, it was weird, how not weird it was. Moments of awkward silence were immediately diffused by someone saying, “Awwwwkwaaaard!” and inciting giggles from the rest of us. It was, to put it in a treacly manner, as though we’d all known each other for years. Even if we didn’t “know” each other.
Amy said to me earlier in the day, “So everyone knows each other, right?”
“Well…no,” I said, “Well, sort of. I know them all. And Steve knows Annette and Caitriona. But I don’t know if Caitriona and Annette know each other. And Annette has met Sam, but I don’t think Sam has met Caitriona. And Beth hasn’t met any of them. Except for me.” The degrees of separation had more twists and turns than the Olympic rings. But by the end of the night, everyone knew everyone. And it wasn’t weird at all.
Poor Steve, having to listen to illicit Bill Mueller talk for hours. But then, if it really did make him uncomfortable, he wouldn’t be the steadfast male posting on the board. The estrogen levels would have risen and flushed him out long ago if he didn’t at least partially enjoy himself.
It still amazes me sometimes, the candid manner in which we were all able to speak. I mean, it’s one thing to say something scandalous about your take on Jason Varitek’s thighs through the animosity of the internet and it’s quite another to, in person, say, as Beth did, “Kristen sent me this picture of Bill Mueller today at work and HOLY SHIT! I was talking to some bigwig, and I was totally supposed to be working. And all I could think about was that picture! And I thought all my co-workers could tell what I was thinking. Kristen totally broke my brain.”
And later on, when we were all sitting around and Sam insisted on getting a picture of us, we found ourselves laughing uproariously when Annette said, “Brady, your crotch is going to be the focal point of this picture.”
“Yeah,” I said, tears ready to stream down my cheeks, “You want to make sure you don’t end up with a ‘Varitek on the plane’” situation.
Steve, used to my brand of humor at this point, blushed and shook his head. Like I said, he’s a good sport.
You’d think that with a group of people who’d known each other, at least in the beginning, because of a shared interest, nay, obsession with a baseball team, the talk would be mostly baseball. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in this instance but if we’d stopped ourselves there, we’d have missed out on Sam’s enthusiastic retelling of her find of a large, intact, dead sea lamprey and it’s “Giant! Rasping! Mouth!,” complete with digital pictures. We also would have missed the general discussion of blogging and blogs we love to read as well as theories about the other members of the board who weren’t there to defend themselves. We all decided that we can’t wait until Amy makes her pilgrimage North in a few short weeks and that it would have been an even better time if Marianne were present. In short, we didn’t run out of things to talk about. It’s almost as if we’re *gasp* actual friends.
When everyone left around 11:30 and Beth and Sam began their shared journey home which would quickly deteriorate into an “ordeal” and then shortly thereafter into a “debacle,” I looked around my messy kitchen and living room and smiled. “I may be a grown-up in name only,” I thought, “but it’s always fun to do things like this.” I guess we all have the Red Sox to thank for bringing us together and forging friendships and all that business. As Sam observed once during one of our hilarious IM conversations, “How did we all become the exact same brand of insane?” Indeed. But, if it works out like last Thursday did, I, for one, can’t think of a better outcome.