Goodbye doesn’t have to be sad. Sometimes, it’s best to throw a party and make sure your friends get stuffed with food just one more time.
That’s what Mickey did.
She’s moving to her ancestral homeland of Wisconsin to be nearer to her family and get reacquainted with snow, cheeseheads, and fried fish on Fridays. To say goodbye, she spent a day cooking and then set up a couple of tables underneath a tree in North Park’s Bird Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon and invited all her friends.
The supply of food dazzled in its enormity. Chunks of watermelon and pineapple sat next to a salad with what looked like barley and dill in equal proportions, but which tasted fresh and summery. Hand-formed veggie burgers sat in neat rows ready for the grill. Potluck rules dominated and partygoers did their best to flesh out the victuals. Nima brought kebabs with boiled potatoes and fresh vegetables to throw on the grill. One girl named Socheath (that’s pronounced SEW-chet) showed up with a pan of corn succotash and half a dozen monstrous bell peppers stuffed with rice and tomatoes.
A keg of Ballast Point Pale Ale waited in the wings, covered in a 1970s quilt to prevent the sun from warming the precious booze within. Red solo cups appeared and were filled, although someone overpumped the keg, which caused the faulty tap to hiss and spit beer froth everywhere for a while. Only drinking could fix the problem, and the problem was resolved.
Someone had brought a set of wooden ramps with holes cut in them that looked like ineffective coffee tables. They turned out to be for a game of bag toss, also given the tongue-in-cheek name of “cornhole” because the point is to throw a bag filled with corn or beans through the hole in the board. Pretty simple, no?
There’s almost nothing that says summer like a minimally active lawn game that you can play with a beer in your hand. Who needs exertion when relaxation is just as easy to come by? With the notable exception of lawn-dart-related tragedies, games of bocce, horseshoes, and bag toss perfectly capture the blithe sentiments of a midsummer party.
Mickey's party scene
As the sun passed its apex, a convenient country music festival started up in the background. Our party had a live soundtrack.
Mickey didn’t want to get in front of the camera to say a few words. She blushed and said she’s not good at that kind of thing. Her face would be recognizable — she’d been managing the popular Blind Lady Ale house for over a year and has probably poured a beer for half the neighborhood at one point or another — but she left the big goodbyes up to her friends.
Adam G. got on camera and described Mickey as “one of the best people he’s known.” The exuberant Samoo R., who looks like a Uruguayan werewolf with a rat-tail and a set of Ray-Bans, expounded into the camera that he couldn’t be sad to see Mickey go because someday, when they are 120 years old, they will walk the Camino de Santiago together as new-age pilgrims and it will be as if they never parted.
What a way to say goodbye. ■
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