Monday, December 12, 2005

Rockin' Around the [Perfectly Appointed] Christmas Tree

Saturday night, Robyn and I ventured out to West Loop to attend a holiday party thrown by one of her co-workers. We knew almost nothing, just that we were supposed to "dress up a little" and arrive at the host couple's "gated community" around 7:30. It wasn't until we got there and surveyed the situation that we realized it: we were at a Grown Up Party hosted by Actual Adults.

There was a four-story condo. It had a deck with a skyline view; a guest bathroom with little soaps that smelled like lavender and weren't to be touched; framed diplomas and photos of toothy neices and nephews. There were things, just shapes really, made of crystal and ceramic and glass, things that people would only own after a wedding, and would only display after a recent wedding. (At one point in the evening, I saw Robyn looking at me strangely across the white-chocolate-covered pretzel display we were busy dismantling; I turned to see what monstrosity was behind me, only to find a giant framed cross-stitch of an old-fashioned bride and groom, along with the couples' wedding date and a Bible verse. Somehow, I didn't feel right sitting under that "artwork.")

There was a dog. It was small and well-behaved and beige. It matched the beige carpet, the beige living room set, its own beige Burberry collar. It had a stocking, shaped like a paw, hanging between the husband's and the wife's on the mantle over an actually-working fireplace. It didn't bark once. It had a nickname: Maddie, short for Madison.

There were men in sport coats, women in what is apparently (and unbeknownst to me) the Trixie uniform: black skirt, red turtleneck sweater, knee-high leather boots (in good taste, naturally), and some subtle but distinguishing piece of flare. Everyone brought wine in those satiny wine-bottle gift bags adorned with feathers or paillettes or sequins. The neighbors came. The hosts know their neighbors: they have poker nights and cookie exchanges; they walk their beige dogs together. One of the neighbor-couples brought their baby monitor. Another couple watched through the window as their dogs romped in their kitchen across the way.*

There was a Christmas tree. It was perfect. The lights that twinkled evenly from every square inch could have been applied by a professional, but, upon meeting the couple, I'm fairly certain they "made a day of it," decking the tree and the condo out all by themselves. There were built-in bookcases from which all taste-identifying art had been removed and replaced with a collection of glossy, glittery Department 56 pieces. There were costumes: Maddie hovered near the door in a Santa hat-and-cape set, and the hostess buzzed around the kitchen, refreshing trays of hors d'oeuvres made with Filo dough, in a matching Santa apron.

Seeing as how we couldn't find "gated" parking, and as how we most certainly weren't within-walking-distance neighbors, we were forced to park about a quarter mile away. We had to trudge through still-fresh snow (and maybe over a 90/94 overpass — I've blocked it) to get to the condo, and, as is apropos at a Grown Up Party hosted by Actual Adults, we removed our shoes in the foyer. So well the rest of the ladies in the set marched around in perfect and perfectly dry boots, I padded around in my holiday socks.

My holiday Cat Socks.

*Incidentally, the only contact we've had with our neighbors involves (in the case of our second-floor neighbors) their coming upstairs to check on us after we screamed about a cockroack that wouldn't die, and (in the case of our first-floor neighbors) us watching from our front-room window as they make out with their lesbian girlfriends on our front porch. Lovely.