The air is thick, full of taste, full of comfort. Pumpkins and gourds, heleniums and sunflowers, decorate my living room and kitchen. The atmosphere reminds me of my childhood. Autumn always resonates this way.
Tonight, tuxedos and hairspray have no place. My friends, typically glamorous and sparkling, show up in troves wearing pajama pants. My girls have traded their stilettos for tennis shoes; their makeup, for nothing. And my boys wear their uncharacteristically masculine tees and baggy jeans. We’re completely ourselves tonight. No networking. No strangers to meet. Nothing but us, three pounds of beef, 120 tater tots, and two giant cans of Manwich.
We sip cheap wine and poke fun at our outfits. Mine: a tattered, over-sized Bears jersey, tiny red running shorts, mismatched socks. I’m informally voted the most tragic of the evening–an honor to which I eloquently respond: “You don’t have to eat my damn food!” I’m met with laughter and reciprocal sarcasm.
The weather is warm enough to dine outside, but chilly enough to use the fireplace. We listen to a random mix of dance music, Florence and the Machine, and old school Whitney–all of which are drowned out with laughter and chatter; the sound of people letting go.
New friends mix with old; an opportunity to connect those who’d perhaps otherwise never meet–where someone like my saucy Jaclyn meets for the first time the sweet and sharp newcomers from California, Peter and Buddy.
They are friends we all have- the charming and sophisticated, the hilarious and vulgar- all genuine, all gracious.
Too gracious, maybe. The evening closes with a dozen cookies, half a dozen cupcakes, and a bucket full of candy left over- contributions for the evening. The wine, of course, is always emptied. It will be my onus to either consume or re-gift the desserts.
Consider hosting your own sloppy joe night. For nostalgia, for coziness, for friends. Here’s to letting go and not giving a damn.