The birthday party
Stuff happens. Like the other night. The Mrs. and I head out to a birthday party for a friend of mine. He's turning 60. He lives over in a still-somewhat-wild portion of southwest Portland, and I haven't been to his place in about 20 years. The babysitter shows up a little early, all face-painted from a high school basketball game. The kids are amped. I get the directions from Google Maps, and off we grownups go.
Twenty minutes later, surprise! Google Maps is wrong. It thinks our friend's street is a through street, but in fact it dead ends and resumes just down the road from him a ways, and we're on the wrong side of the gap. And so we're way off, lost, in the dark and rain. I knew the directions seemed wrong, but hey, over 20 years that neighborhood could have changed.
Unfollowed instincts do us no good now. I'm fumbling with the infernal cheap iPhone waiting for AT&T to work its constipated magic, and I can't come up with their home phone number despite best efforts. So I drive a different way trying to find his house. Google still has the red dot and the blue dot going, so maybe there's hope.
You know what's getting really bad in Portland? The quality of the street signs. They're so old and they've lost so much luster, you can't read a lot of them at night any more, even with your high beams on. God forbid they should spend money on replacing them when there are streetcars to be built.
So it's a struggle, but we finally find the other way into the street. It's a dark little road and the house numbers are hard to see in the night rain, but we finally find the house.
Which doesn't look like there's a party going on in it at all.
In fact, that looks like a TV light flickering in a darkened upstairs room that's probably a bedroom. The rest of the place looks dark. It's not a surprise party, and there aren't many cars parked outside. We're not early -- the party was supposed to have started 20 minutes ago.
Should I go ring the bell? If this is the wrong night, they're still going to be stuck politely inviting us in for a while, which they secretly aren't going to want to do. And we'll have to go in and maybe eat a handful a peanuts and have a glass of wine, when really we're both hungry for what was supposed to be a dinner party. In fact, my blood sugar level is running low enough that it's not that easy to think straight about the situation. There might be an E-vite invitation buried in my inbox somewhere, but with the iPhone being so slow, it would take a long time to look for it. The Mrs. is being extraordinarily gentle as my head gets ready to emulate Fukushima.
I get out of the car and walk up the driveway to the foot of the front porch stairs. Nah -- turn around and walk back to the car.
The rest of the story later today.