It’s times like this, when I feel like the only person on the face of the planet who isn’t lining up for a pumpkin spice latte, that I truly struggle with letting go of the humid hugs of summer. But alas, fall has found her way back and I didn’t want to miss the chance to share a few final snapshots from the fleeting days of the past season.
Sometimes it’s fun to find a kind soul willing to watch our litter, put on a shirt saved for special nights, and go out for an evening with adults. There’s just something about knowing you won’t have to put down your cocktail to wipe someone’s tush that make the drinks that much more delicious.
Friday night, four couples came together to toast our dear friend, Jenn. Now, it’s important to note here that birthdays aren’t just birthdays to Jenn. They are National Holidays (always capped), and this woman has been known to make said National Holiday a week- or month-long celebration. It is your right, she would say, to make at least 24 hours all about the fact that you were born and you are fabulous. She is also the first person to return the favor when your own special day rolls around.
Jenn and her husband know their way around the local culinary scene – he is a stupid-talented chef after all – so when they suggested an intimate spot called The Italian Connection for her official National Holiday dinner, there weren’t many arguments from the peanut gallery. The charming eatery was located in a small home that has been reimagined and transformed to offer guests an authentic Italian ambiance in a random Midwest neighborhood. The walls are caked in memorabilia; faded photos of distant family members, strands of polyester roses with delicate plastic stems and knowing saints looking lovingly on.
Grownups for a night, the eight of us proceeded to catch up, laugh like drunken fools and reconnect over bottles of the house red wrapped in intricate wicker and al dente noodles paired beautifully with their authentic sauces. But the highlight came after the meatballs and marinara. The chef, a condensed character straight from a stereotype, came out, turned on his party lights and fired up his karaoke machine. As he raised his eyebrows in sincere flirtation and worked through the lyrics of his favorite crooners, he pulled the men from their chairs and nudged them to dance with their sweethearts. It was, in essence, a middle school house party chaperoned by the coolest grandpa ever.
We sang, we slow danced and we succumb to the joy parents often push aside on the list of priorities. It was a blessing shared with some of the best people we know, and a solid reminder that sometimes it’s OK to call in the grandparents, shed the guilt and go for the group date. And if you want it to be really memorable, add in Alex, the singing Italian chef and take a selfie stick (hence all of the group shots).