Anna’s graduation party was a resounding success. She has been best friends with Emily, Brittany, and Caroline since Eighth Grade, so naturally they had their party together. The girls had attended the same schools, studied together, attended the same churches, and hung out together for the better part of five years. The Hargreaves offered their house for the party. Us four dads have gotten to know each other over the years, and we had fun setting out the ten tables and 40 chairs in the cool Saturday morning breeze. At 4:15 Will drove Matthew out to the party to man the valet party duty, then Anna drove Ceil and cousins Katherine and Jordan out around five. I drove Joan, Rusty, and Kelly to the party, taking the scenic route past Anna and Matthew’s schools, Crabapple, and the Hurt’s house.
After we said our hello’s at the party so many people kept arriving that the small valet parking group was quickly overwhelmed. Will and I helped out along with Caroline’s dad Robert and Emily’s dad Ken. Brittany’s dad Randy directed traffic. Party-goers would drive up the hill to the party, where five of us would drive the cars back down the hill and park the cars out in the field. Then Matthew or Caroline’s younger sister Mary would shuttle us back up the hill in a small four-wheeled tractor vehicle. The cars just kept coming and coming and we worked as fast as we could to keep the cars from backing up. Will would run and jump onto the back of the tractor, but the rest of had to climb up on the wheel. At one point Will told Matthew to keep driving while Will tried to jump on the moving tractor. It didn’t work, and we turned around to see Will on the ground. I didn’t count, but we had to have parked at least 40 cars. While some of the cars were nice, most of the cars driven by students made me feel better about my fleet: several had the check engine light or low coolant light on, and most of the cars were full of trash – a little worse than Anna’s or Will’s. Several had RaceTrac Sodapoolza free refill cups. The plan was to place the keys on top of the windshield wipers. Of course the first car I drove was keyless, but I found the keyfob. I didn’t want a car to get keys locked inside.
Tons of high-schoolers showed up, and a few parents. Joshua arrived nattily attired in a suit and bow tie, with a small gift for Anna along with the classiest note I had ever read. Then the notorious drove up, and I parked her car. Later I told Lily I had wrecked her car, and she believed me for a second. In ninth grade Lily had been part of Anna’s pack – sort of the fifth Beatle - before transferring to Cambridge High in Milton, where she ran cross country and played tennis. I keep reminding people that in ninth grade Lily actually brought a slingshot to school and shot Thomas Gilbert in the head with a rock, sending him to the hospital for stitches. Next year Lily will attend Auburn, with Caroline. Later Lily’s parents showed up. Years ago her mom and I were chaperones on a Living Science Jekyll Island Expedition, and her dad and I had a nice chat.
The delicious BBQ came from a place in Milton called ‘Cue. Beef, chicken, beans, slaw, macaroni and cheese, tea, lemonade, water, and tiny cupcakes with graduation caps on top. I sat with the Millers and told them about the few people I actually knew. Brittany’s mother Krista teaches at Veritas (Anna’s school). She is a leader, like Rusty’s wife Kelly. This made for a funny but awkward moment when Krista was introduced to Kelly, but Krista took three tries to catch Kelly’s name. Krista then complimented Kelly on her Southern accent. Nancy, Noelle, and Reid came, along with Joel and Charles Norman. I introduced budding musician Joel to Emmy-winning composer Reid, and they had a good chat about music. Matthew hung out with Mary and Brittany’s younger sister Bridgette.
Anna and the girls stayed busy chatting with friends. They were delighted that several of their favorite boys showed up. I hadn’t seen the Moran family since our Living Science days. Son Josh will be a senior at Milton High, where as a football player is a college prospect. Here are some of his highlights: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1270075/highlights/174649375/v2
Noelle wanted to thank the hosts before she left, so I was going to introduce her and Reid to the Hargreaves. We’re all about the same age, all with kids going off to college. Robert took one look at the Halls and said “Now where did ya’ll get married? I went to your wedding.” Turned out Noelle and Trina had several mutual friends. The whole time I was going “Stop it! You don’t know each other. Y’all are all just pulling my leg!” When Noelle got home she pulled out her wedding album and found the Hargreaves in a picture (below, left).
The weather was beautiful and it wasn’t too hot (unless you were parking cars). The sun finally set as the party was winding down. It had been a long day, and Julie Morton – the youngest of the eight parents – said her back was beginning to hurt. Wearing her daughter’s dress and fashionable cowboy boots, Krista said she was also weary. In my best Billy Crystal voice I exclaimed “But you look marvelous!” But I knew what she meant: I was aching all over, and my feet would’ve felt much better in sneakers than the loafers I wore.
As the evening wound down some of the remaining kids headed down to the pool and photo booth, and us parents were able to clean up. As we wearily loaded the tables and chairs back on the trailer Ken gave us some good news: he had forgotten the key to the church so we didn’t have to unload them that night. Will and I made our leave, and not too long thereafter Ceil brought home Anna, Katherine, Jordan, and Matthew.
ALSO: Sunday night I saw Kevin at PCC after the service, and we caught up on things. He had just hit town from Auburn. This summer he’s interning at a factory 45 miles north of Charlotte before returning for his senior year.