The Big Night
We didn’t win the Grammy. Hilary did. Was that a let down? No. My original desire was to be published in Paper Mache, and that had happened. The rest of it was so over the top, so sort of incredible, that I had a difficult time grasping all of it. Much of the time, I felt as though I was floating in some sort of bubble, wondering how the hell I had gotten there.
I had planned a small celebration with family and friends. Not to celebrate a possible win, but just to honor getting to this undreamed of place. I had told one interviewer that we intended to have a Silly String party, the evening of the awards. When he looked at me in total confusion, I laughed and said, “I feel a need to celebrate the silly string of events and circumstances that got me into all of this.”
Having asked a few friends and my children to come over and watch the presentation that evening, I was cleaning the living room and had the television on. There was a very brief news item that told of how Hilary Clinton had won the award. I tipped my hat to her, figuratively, and went on with my cleaning.
About an hour later, the phone rang. It was another television interviewer wanting to know what my plans were for the coming evening and if I believed we might actually win. There was an apparent tone of slyness in her questions. I took a deep breath and said,
“Listen, we both know that Hilary won, and probably even deserved to do so. What is it you really want?”
After a bit of silence, she asked, “Well, how do you feel about that? I mean you must be pretty disappointed, right? You’ve already said you were planning some sort of party, will you be cancelling that?”
“No,” I responded, “I could never have dreamed of being a part of all of this in the first place, but it sure is wonderful to know that I’m in such wonderfully good company. Like I said, Hilary probably deserved it, she’s the First Lady of this country and I wish her all of the best. The party won’t be cancelled, it was meant to celebrate the experience of getting here in the first place.”
“Well,” she said, in that sly tone of voice, “I and my crew will be at your home for the party, and I have it on good word, that at least one other television crew plans on doing the same,” she named another television station.
Now, it was my turn to be quiet for a moment, “You go ahead and do whatever you like,” I said with a smile, “but you will be deeply disappointed as the party will not be here. No one will be here. Thanks for calling,” and I hung up the phone, immediately calling a friend. He was a bachelor and owned his own home on the other side of town. I explained what had just happened and asked if we could move the party to his house. He agreed without hesitation.
After making several more phone calls, giving directions for the new location, I cleaned up, grabbed the Champagne I had purchased the day before, several cans of Silly String, a box of snacks I had already prepared, I patted my Norwegian Elkhound on the head and told her to make sure no one got in (she was a particularly fierce and protective creature, but total putty for her friends), I locked up and left the house. Party Time.
We gathered, about fifteen people, and sat on the floor of my friend’s living room, sipping the white wine. I had already told them the outcome, but we watched Hilary receive her award, clapping and making jokes about the good company I was keeping. Someone said, “Silly String?” My friend said, “Outside.”
For those of you who might not know what Silly String is, it is an artificial cream-based confetti substance that comes in an aerosol can. You shake the can vigorously, then press the spray button, and a stream of colorful string shoots out. It is meant for children to play with and dissolves and is washed away with water. It will dry and become hard if allowed to remain for too long a time, but because it is string, it crumbles easily and can be swept away.
We ran around the backyard, spraying one another for a few minutes, hollering, laughing and totally enjoying the moment. Then everyone circled around me and aimed the cans and sprayed me from head to toe, while I laughed and tried very hard to remember to keep my mouth closed. The stuff doesn’t taste all that good. By the time they had emptied all of the cans, I was completely covered from head to toe and looked, they said, like a short round Christmas tree, decorated in neon green and hot pink tinsel.
I brushed most of it off, we all got in our vehicles and went home. The next evening, I watched the news cast. At the end of it, the two anchor people, quietly discussed the Grammy Awards and their outcome. The male anchor said, “Well, our local poet, Elizabeth Crawford didn’t win, but knowing that she was in the same category as the First Lady has to mean something extremely special, a story to be told, again and again.”
His co-host smiled and said, “I hope Elizabeth had her Silly String party, she certainly deserved it.” He looked at the camera and said, “Just think about that for a moment, total anonymity to a Grammy Nomination with one poem. Now that’s a good story.” The program ended with a picture of the Anthology opened to my poem, and a voice over of me reading it softly. A very deeply satisfying conclusion, but not quite the end of the story.
(to be continued…)
Linked to Carry On Tuesday writing prompt: But that is the beginning of a new story.*
*End of Crime and Punishment