Though summer in this hemisphere does not technically begin until late June, by the middle of May it was already well underway in Gainesville. The weather was warm, all the college students were out of town, and I had three full months before I had to be back at school.
On Friday, 15 May, our friends Matt and Kerri, who had been legally married for several months, finally hosted a reception at the Thomas Center gardens in northeast Gainesville. Miriam and I dressed pretty and arrived somewhat early, so that we observed the caterers setting up tables and the band plugging in instruments. Soon enough, all our other friends arrived, food was served, and Matt and Kerri wandered around greeting everyone. There was an open bar, so I took advantage and drank many an IBC Root Beer. The gardens looked beautiful after dark, since the newlyweds had carefully strung lights and hung decorations. They gave out as favors some fake mustaches, and many guests were wearing them. The band was talented, and though people didn’t dance so much, everyone appeared to be having a good time. Such a good time, in fact, that some time after nine o’clock the police arrived. Kerri greeted the officer wearing a fake mustache and explained that she and Matt had obtained a noise permit in advance. The party continued. In fact, it would have kept going had the Thomas Center staff not begun removing the tables and chairs. It was well after ten o’clock when we all disbanded, but only to be parted for a few hours.
Many of the party guests were roller derby girls, and the team was holding a car wash the following morning at Coffee Culture on 13th Street. That place seems to like the Gainesville Roller Rebels: they even have a drink called a “Ruby Typhoon”. The team had held successful car washes there before, and this was a good opportunity to raise money for charity. Miriam and others arrived quite early, but I stopped by later on my way to work. I was glad that Harris was there. He’s fun to talk to. Sara brought Coleslaw, which amused everyone. Tradition has it that everyone will meet at Big Lou’s following a GRR carwash, and when I got out of work I rode my bike over there. Alas, we sat outside in the sweltering heat.
While I went Swimming at Kat and Harris’ apartment, Miriam spent the afternoon preparing food to take to a surprise birthday party for our friend Kyle that his girlfriend Adrienne was holding at her apartment. Guests were advised to dress like Kyle, which for some meant wearing glasses. Many of Kyle’s friends were there, and we all socialized until he was brought home unaware, we hoped, of the party that was waiting for him. Kyle thought he was just coming over to Adrienne’s for a quiet dinner after having some drinks with friends at the Top. You know how you become suspicious when your birthday is coming up, and people begin acting strange? As the party went on, and reports came in describing Kyle’s whereabouts, we began to worry that the secret would get out. At one point, Matt, who was with Kyle, informed Adrienne that Kyle had wanted to go to his own apartment. This was bad, because all the party guests had parked in front of Kyle’s apartment. When he observed the vehicles of all his friends he would be sure something was up. But we hid anyway. Some of us hid, that is. A few friends stayed in the dining room, figuring that we could still get him even if he was suspicious by making him think that he was having a small party, then, Surprise!, we all jump out of Adrienne’s bedroom and it’s a big party. So Adrienne tells us it’s time to hide, and we go in her room and turn off the lights and wait. Kerri and I kept watch out the window, waiting for the boys to come up the steps. After what seemed like forever, they finally arrived. When he entered the house Adrienne was going to ask him to fetch something for her from her bathroom. Sure enough, he opened the door, and I think we almost gave him a heart attack, if not from the surprise itself, then from the sheer amplitude of our shouting. Everyone ate because there was seriously a lot of food, and Adrienne presented Kyle with a cake. We partied until the early morning hours.
The next day (Sunday), Miriam and I awoke and readied ourselves for a little day trip to St. Augustine and the beach. The weather was nice, and after a long search we found good parking in the old historic district of the city. Everywhere you looked couples were walking hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, the service was terrible at the restaurant where we ate lunch. But after that unpleasant experience we took A1A south to Marineland and found a nearly deserted stretch of beach. By the time we left we were the only ones there. Alas, I forgot my camera, so all I got were cellphone pictures. But it was a lovely Sunday, and the perfect end to an epic weekend.