Friday, June 19, 2015

Open Mouth, Insert Everything Not Nailed Down

Congratulate me.

Well, not just me, but everybody in these here parts who have just survived another life-threatening period of time in the Upper Midwest.

Yes, it's true...we've just made it through the annual spring ritual known as Graduation Open House Season.

Back home in least back when my siblings and I all ended our high school careers...graduating from high school wasn't considered a very big deal. Almost everybody did it. I mean, if you just showed up often enough the principal eventually got tired of seeing you, handed you a piece of paper and told you to get out.

But in Minnesota, it is considered a great accomplishment...along the lines of devising a safe way to transport plutonium...for anyone under the age of 23 to be given a high school diploma. 

It must be thought of as a spectacular feat, judging from the time and expense put into each graduate's neighborhood-wide celebration known as an Open House.

It all starts with a complete remodeling of the family's home. If a room isn't added, then at least the kitchen will be re-tiled and double-paned windows installed. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense, though, because the only people who will actually see the inside of the house during the "open house" are immediate family members and the catering crew. Everyone else will be sitting or standing in the yard or driveway, under a rented canopy. Or, if the weather turns bad, gathered in the garage...which has had its floor steam-cleaned and its contents moved to a storage unit in North Dakota.

Cakes will be decorated, fatted calves will be sacrificed, bands will be hired, and engraved invitations will be sent. Make no mistake. We. Will. Celebrate. This. Graduation.

At this point, the alert reader will be wondering, "What's so all-fire 'life-threatening' about this?" That's because I haven't told you about the food.

When you are invited to a graduation open house in Minnesota, you are expected to 1) bring a card with a check payable to the graduate inside of it; and 2) leave weighing 15 pounds more than when you arrived.

Really, that's the expectation. The invitations specifically ask you to come and eat their food...and they usually describe the food to be ingested with the gusto of the head waiter at Chateau le Bombaste.

Menus include tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, barbecued chicken, macaroni and cheese in individual cups, waffles, 12-foot subs, baked potatoes, a Chinese buffet, leg of lamb, and truffles from Upper Mongolia. And don't even get me started on the dessert tables.

And then at the NEXT house... 

Oh yes, I didn't tell you yet. Because of my involvement at church and with Giant Step Theatre, I get invited to 87 of these things a year...which means on an average weekend in June, I have to drag myself through 17 of these extravaganzas.

Life is good.

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