Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Blast

As I may have mentioned before, my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) is the world's best at getting a party together STAT. So, there we were, expecting Lane and Jamila to arrive in mid-afternoon, and Starr Ann had the party ready to launch by late morning. Still wouldn't tell me what her big surprise was, though.

Afternoon came and went without one sign of the kids. Which was a little bit comforting. It felt good to know Basic Training and tech school hadn't made Lane grow up too much. At the same time, though, Starr Ann and I'd really been looking forward to having the girls all to ourselves, if only for an hour or so. Dang, where does time go?

By seven, most of the Posse had arrived. Still no Lane and Jamila, but things were cranking into high gear by their own selves.

Lori had somehow rigged up a lighted footpath between her Riding Cowgirls Ranch and our Happy Hands. It was quite beautiful, and I still don't really understand how she did it, but that's Lori for you. Lori also brought a lot of marshmallows, on the off chance Reeflightning didn't make it on time, since she had to travel so far. But right as Lori started to get the campfire going, Reef arrived. So, all good. The marshmallow specialist was in charge of the marshmallows. Anyway, Lori was supposed to be on hot tub patrol.

Everybody was having a real good time when, about eight or so, here comes Lane and Jamila walking through the door. Dang! Talk about two beautiful kids full of life and so in love you could see it a mile away! It was like a pheromone cloud rolled in with them. I mean it, the place started rocking.

Our puppy Bates came running from who-knows-where and made the leap of his life into Lane's arms. That boy just about wiggled in two, his tail was wagging so hard. And in a surprise move, he took to Jamila right away. Still in Lane's arms, he twisted his neck and leaned over toward Jamila's face. Of course, we all know Bates, so there was a collective gasp, and we all held our breaths. But he didn't even try to bite her. Just licked her face.

Starr Ann said, real matter of fact, "Prolly smells more like Lane than Lane does," which broke the tension enough that everybody laughed. Lane had the decency to blush. Black women, though, have an unfair advantage. Jamila might have blushed, then again she might not have.

After their entrance, everything just took off. What I remember is real patchy. At one point, I was in the pasture in bare feet, dancing with Frannie, Tigger, CJ, and the -inas. Funny thing about the -inas. Gina surely remembers being at the party, but I got a message from Nina this morning saying she was sorry to miss the hoedown. Just goes to show you Nina's so in love with Gina she truly doesn't know where she is half the time.

There was another point when I spotted Starr Ann, Cap'n Dyke, and Frannie huddled up real close, like they were talking real serious. Then they all three at once threw their heads back and laughed real hard. Don't know why, but the sight of that just made me so happy I almost couldn't stand it.

On my way out to check on the horses, I spotted yet another lovely Posse member, JoeyJoe, emerging from that lighted footpath with Lori. That made about the fourth cowgirl I'd seen Lori on that path with. What the heck?

I said, "You chargin' for this shuttle, Hahn?"

Lori didn't bat an eyelash, just whipped out this little pad of post-it notes and started writing. She tore off the one she'd written on and said, "Here you go, Margo. I'm actually booked solid, but I'll fit you in at 11:30. Meet me right about here."

Smiling real appreciative, all I said was, "Thanks," and I went on to the barn.

Well, guess what? There was no need for me to go checking on the horses. Lane, Jamila and Bates were already in there handing out carrots. Jamila was inside Lightning's stall. Lane saw how surprised I looked and she told me not to worry, that animals just seemed to take to Jamila. Sure enough, Lightning was being a perfect gentleman.

Right then, the door slid open. It was Starr Ann. All four of us spent a few seconds smiling like crazy, just happy to share a few private moments.

Starr Ann came over and bumped shoulders with Lane. She asked Jamila, "Wanna hear any of the good oil on Lane, Jamila? I know a few of her secrets."

Jamila kissed Lightning right on his muzzle and came out into the shedrow with us. "Sure. I want to know it all. Wish we had more time."

I said, "There'll be plenty of time someday. We completely understand how anxious you are to see your folks."

A little wave of sunlight passed across Jamila's features at just the mention of her parents. That was real nice to see. I can't tell you how happy Starr Ann, Lane, and I felt for Jamila right then.

Anyway, a loud hoot from outside made us all jump and go look. Almost everybody had congregated around Reef's campfire, and somebody must have said something hilarious, because the whole Posse was just about in tears, they were laughing so hard.

I lost track of Jodie and Starr Ann for about half an hour after that, and I should have known it had something to do with Starr Ann's surprise. It sure did!

All of a sudden, Starr Ann and Jodie came up to us all at the fire and hollered, "Snowball fight!"

I couldn't believe it. This is only May, for Goddess sakes! See? Every winter, Starr Ann stockpiles a bunch of snowballs - fills up our freezer and the freezers in all her bunkers. This year, she even made Jodie let her load a bunch of 'em in her freezer. Anyway, Starr Ann always waits until July or August, in the middle of the summer's worst heatwave, to break out the snowballs and have our snowball fight. It's unheard of for her to spend her snowballs in May. But there they were, in a bunch of piles spread all around the field, far enough from the fire to keep them from melting before the battle.

It took a minute, but everybody caught on pretty quick and in no time the snowballs were flying everywhere, people were screaming as snow exploded against their warm bare legs, and squealing as crushy ice got dropped down the backs of their shirts. Five minutes of fleeting mayhem, and it was all over. Or so we thought. Everybody was out of breath and giggling, when Starr Ann said, "Uh-oh."

All eyes turned to where Starr Ann was looking. Jamila had held back a single snowball and was standing there carefully holding it, with an evil look in her eye.

Giggling, Lane said, "Toss it, Honey Girl, it's gonna melt."

Jamila looked down at the quickly vanishing snowball, and her evil expression turned real seductive. She gave Lane a challenging look right before taking a big bite out of that snowball, then holding it out toward Lane. Guiding it by holding Jamila's wrist, Lane took the next bite. They did that until that last one of this winter's snowballs was all gone.

The girls had to leave early the next morning to make their flight to Jamila's parents' house in Dallas. Before they left, they confirmed what we all pretty much knew already. They're being sent to Iraq. Real soon. They'll be there before the month is over.

Right now, what we're doing is staying focused on the fun we had at that party. Not thinking too deeply about what we can't control.

Oh, speaking of the party, somebody left a pair of chaps near that path to Lori's place. They look like Frannie's. Just sayin'.