I'm still recovering from the party we threw last night. Might take a while.
For the last decade or so, my wife and I have been throwing Big Parties about once a year. It started as kind of a reunion of our high school speech team (which is where we met, originally), and has since grown and morphed into sort of an invite-everyone-we-know event. It's great fun, and usually produces a diverse and fun crowd.
In years past, we would hold the party between Christmas and New Year's, which originally facilitated attendance by out-of-town friends who came to the area to visit their families for the holidays. As the years have passed, fewer of them are coming home for that, and as everyone seems to have conflicts at that time of year, we decided to try something different this time.
So we've moved it out of the holiday season, which should mean fewer conflicts, and also moved it to a season that should provide better weather, allowing us to move some of the party outdoors onto the decks.
Great idea! So we set up kids' activities downstairs, using the big TV room and the lower deck, while most of the food and drink was upstairs in the kitchen, dining room, living room, and upper deck. The weather was reasonably cooperative, though we expected things to cool off as the evening advanced. But with the party starting at 4 pm, we figured on getting some goo use of the outdoors.
And it started off that way.
But just as dusk was approaching, I was standing inside chatting with some guests, when several of the adults came to get me, telling me I needed to check out the deck, because something bad was happening: the deck was moving. Moving?
So, I'm thinking there's a loose board, or maybe one has rotted a bit and is squishy to the step. Um, no. The middle of the deck appears to have dropped several inches. My mind immediately flashes to news stories from a few years back about an overloaded deck collapsing at a party, with several people killed. Luckily, my friends are very calm about things, despite their spouses and children being on (or under) the decks. We quickly get everyone on both levels indoors, and several of us go to check out what's happened.
From the ground outside, it is quite apparent what has gone wrong. One of the posts supporting the middle of the decks has rotted at the bottom, and is collapsing. That post has dropped about 4-6 inches, and the decks have dropped a bit there, too. It doesn't seem like things are in imminent danger of collapse, but it seems clear that we need to keep everyone off the decks for the rest of the evening.
Fortunately, the house is large enough to handle the entire crowd (nearly 140 people total, including about 40 kids). We had planned to have all the drinks in coolers outside, so my clever guests move the coolers right outside the doors, blocking exit, but enabling people to get their drinks. And my wise friend Todd sits me down and hands me a cup of rum punch (and another, and another...).
So, no harm, no foul. The guest list included two architects and an engineer, who all agreed that yes, there is significant damage, but it should be relatively easy to fix. So aside from the fact that I have to spend much of the rest of the night recounting why there are signs taped over all the deck doors that say "keep off the deck," all goes smoothly.
Now I'm looking forward to my Monday morning calling people to fix my deck. But at least I have some leftover rum punch to help me through it all.