Adventures with my Sister: The Juice Ball

Last Friday I decided to attend a party thrown by my old roommate Tommy Fitzgerald. He’s a chef in Grand Rapids. Big heart. Big ideas. Occasionally, a big ego. I met him while waitressing at Sierra Room. I needed an apartment and he had a cool house with a finished attic. I moved in. I spent a few months there, and we hung out quite a bit. We also fought quite a bit. He called food “Product” and I thought food was “Passion”. Come to find out, we really think of food the same way. It’s more than food, it’s a way to connect. At any rate, I decided to move to New York, moved home after 9/11, and haven’t seen him since then. So. He decided to throw himself a huge 40th birthday party, raise funds for Kids’ Food Basket, an organization that provides sack lunches to kids on their way home from school…and he called it the Juice Ball.

And I wanted to go. I wanted to see Tommy, I wanted to support his cause, and selfishly, I wanted to have a good time. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that my holiday was pretty horrible. I spent most of it alone. On the couch with a broken foot.

So I rented a room at the JW, called up my sister and braved the 400+ people at the Juice Ball…all while on crutches. Did I get stares? You bet. Did I care? Not at all. I loved it.

Sis and I stood in line for the “cafeteria” food. Or rather, cafeteria reinterpreted.

Gourmet gratin cauliflower, a deliscious asian salad, this succulent chicken with a tasty crispy coating, and meatloaf. Of course, I couldn’t carry my drink or my tray. Heidi held the drink just in front of me, like leading a horse with a carrot. And another lady stood in line for me and carried my tray. Then she snagged us a seat.  We sat across from, seriously, our future.

Heidi and I couldn’t believe it. Two sisters sat across from us, probably 30 years our senior. One had dyed red hair (like mine) and the other had silver hair, a lot of makeup, and jewelry so heavy she probably had neck pains. “Oh my God, Heidi,” I whispered. “That’s US in like thirty years.”

Then we listened to them talk.

Silver watched a carriage go by. “Oh,” she said, fanning herself. “Look at that. There’s a couple in that carriage. They must be in love.”

“They aren’t in love,” said Red. “The carriage costs so much they have to pretend they’re in love.” Red leaned in conspiratorially and said “My sister is a romantic. That’s because her husband is dead. I’m a realist. That’s because my husband is still alive and sitting at home. He refused to come tonight. He should’ve come.”

“He should’ve come,” Silver echoed.

Heidi and I then went to the ballroom where we promptly did a couple of shots. Nothing like getting blitzed while on crutches. It makes it so exciting!

The ballroom was huge and moody and dark and everyone around us was, well, attractive. Men wore velvet jackets and button shirts and jeans. Women wore shiny shirts with big necklaces that emphasized their boobs, and tight skinny jeans.

I’d had this sort of daydream that when the music started playing, someone would ask me to dance. It would be like in “Sixteen Candles” when the girl in headgear actually dances with someone. (Doesn’t she?) I had this image of a gentle, quirky man leading me to the dance  floor. “But I can’t dance,” I’d say, resisting.

“It’s okay. You’re on crutches.”

“Even if I weren’t on crutches, I still couldn’t dance.”

“It’s okay. I’ll carry you.” And then he wraps his arms around me, holds me against him snugly and lifts, so that my feet aren’t even touching the ground.

I’d nearly convinced myself of this image: me, dancing close with someone, floating.

Of course, it didn’t happen. Mostly, men gave me that “Aw, man, tough luck” sort of smile. But that was okay. I had a great time with my sister.

I did meet one man who said crutches were sexy. “Who paid you to say that?” I asked. It might have been his wife. Still, it was nice to hear.

There’s no moral here. No deep epiphany. It was a nice night with my sister. I got to see and hug Tommy. I did not meet the man of my dreams, nor did I dance. I sat, watching, crutches beside me, laughing until my tummy hurt. And then when my sis headed home, I went up to my giant room on the 18th floor, turned out the lights, opened the window and looked at Grand Rapids, alight, beneath my feet. That, too, was a pretty cool feeling.

Oh yeah? And the dancing? It’s going to happen. It really is.