The trouble with writing Annual Letters or even telling people you're going to do it leaves you open to more trouble. Things just slip out sometimes and can be misinterpreted. I was asked to clarify an .. uh .. unintentional teaser.
It was a big community anniversary in camp country [if you're not northern, you call it cottage country]. The place being named after a lovely gemstone, we had inviting designer labels on grape wines and a special eponymous cocktail.
In my day, when teenage summer wildlife was about as tame as today, no kidding, only the cars were different---that darling little cocktail was called purple jesus and dispensed in gallon jugs from the tailgate of a station wagon. A rite of passage: you knew from the first gulp there was no tomorrow. Unless next morning you all staggered as a united front into the tiny chapel down the road to support your guilt-ridden catholic friends. I imagine—because my eyes were shut most of the time—the horrified priest gaping at a gaggle of hungover zombies with purple lips.
It was quite a celebration on a large playing field with a five-star buffet, a dining tent and a live band, families of all ages. And lilac-coloured anniversary cupcakes. And of course the well-stocked bar. Lots of jolly reunions and re-acquainting. The main lake road had been closed with barriers to keep cars well away from action central. Then it got dark. A little harder to find the portable biffy, as we used to call it, in the bush back there. Children and the elderly began drifting away home, including some of my relatives. The ones with the car. No matter, I assured them I had a ride later. The band got its second wind with those still standing, including some of my (other) relatives.
You understand that a few celebrants were unfamiliar with the homegrown treat—purple J reincarnated as an exotic cocktail. The younger-than-me crowd, still including some of my relatives, had endurance: dancing, making new friends, and generally having a whale of a time. Reaching my limits, I set out with my volunteer driver to head for a ride home. When what should appear bouncing onto the field was a large 4-wheel drive vehicle threatening to scatter a few bodies. And/or stop the music. Dancers blinked. Astonished faces swivelled.
At the wheel was yet another relative. In her nightgown. “I'm in my nightgown,” she babbled redundantly, “I just came through the barrier. I went to bed and was afraid you didn't have a ride home. Are you alright? Is everyone alright? I need to know where everyone is.” She piled out of the car in agitation. In the headlights.
You had to be there.
We stared at her speechlessly for a while. I respectfully add that Worry is her affectionate name. It's not that funny in the re-telling, I know. I heard Worry all the way home as we tried to find a road that would go there. Without barriers. The best (worst) part is that later I missed the rest of my party-hardy relatives involuntarily spewing their ingested cocktails and gourmet dinner into highway ditches all the way back to town.
All names changed to protect the suspects. A touch of literary licence is acknowledged (but you were warned before). One large, very fine famdamily.