When I moved to MSP after college, I lived with my friend KC. We started off in a two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis, but in the spring we got a chance at a great three bedroom in an old Victorian house in St. Paul. I convinced my friend Chris to join us and the three of us set up house. Our place was fabulous. It was the entire downstairs of this giant house. The rooms were huge, the ceiling was high, and there were three formal fireplaces...Chris and I even had them in our bedrooms. It was in a "transitional" neighborhood so the rent was cheap. There was a crack house across the street, a woman from the building across the alley used to knock on the door regularly and ask for money, and the day after we moved in they found a guy "expired" in a vehicle in front of our house. (Or so the nice policeman told me when he knocked on the door at 6AM. I still imagine him with a date stamped on his forehead.) But these seemed like minor irritations to 22 year olds who had to choose between safe neighborhood rent and eating.
We were young and sociable, and the house was great for entertaining. It had a huge kitchen, a back yard with a grill, a dining room, and a giant, wide corridor that worked well for bowling. We could easily have 50 people in this house with little problem, and we did several times a year. Chris and KC and I were a trifecta of party fun...Chris was a whiz with decor and ambiance, I'm a pretty good cook with an innate sense of entertaining, and KC was a cocktail magician and could power clean like nobody's business. We were vivacious, flirtatious and had a wide range of friends between us that made for excellent cocktail conversation.
As Christmas rolled around, Chris and I were really excited to decorate. KC was a bit of a Scrooge, but we steamrolled right past that. We went to Cub up on Lexington and 694, got a fabulous $20 tree, stuck it up in the bay window and went to town with the twinkle lights and Target ornaments. The tree was tall, voluptuous and a little bit pear-shaped...we joked that it was a perfect reflection of our three body types. It was beautiful. We decided to throw a Christmas party to celebrate.
It was frenzied planning. Chris and I were both working retail so we had to coordinate schedules to have a Saturday off. We made dips and appetizers and holiday vodka slush mix and bought a keg of beer and even had a few fixins for proper cocktails, though back in those days we hadn't graduated to martinis. There was a bottle of Jagermeister in the fridge. We were ready to go. We made our friends wear fancy duds...there were men in tuxes, women in lovely cocktail dresses, suits, ties, , cleavage and shoulders...and a few guests in Carhardt, but they were charming and funny so we let them in anyway.
Our party was a HUGE success. I was the QUEEN of the Bridget Jones Introduction. "Bob, this is Tim. He works for John Grunseth but still has scruples. Bob is a Cherokee warrior and just came back from his vision quest." Republicans were talking to Democrats. Scientists were talking to musicians. Mistletoe-induced kissing was everywhere. There was dancing in the living room and the hallway. There was drunken buffoonery abounding. I have a great picture of me licking CP's face, one of KC and Kent with their backs to each other, barely aware of the other's presence (they're married now), and a great picture of Susan, KB and me lauding the tiny baby Jesus from the manger set. (There's a whole series of Baby Jesus pictures, actually. It's like he was a substitute for Santa.)
The party went well into the night. We ended up with about five house guests and some pairings that caused rumor and speculation for months to come. We started the next morning with a walk in the snow to Sweeney's for bloody marys and fried food.
The party became an annual tradition. So did one or two of the pairings, but that's a different story.