The Saturday a week before Memorial Day:
Me: Let’s have our friends from life group over for a Memorial Day cookout, OK?
Thursday at life group:
Me: Hey, Y’all, Monday afternoon we are having a cookout and maybe some shootin’ at our place. If you can come, let me know tonight or tomorrow by text or email. Saturday I will touch base with time and details.
(I am practicing being laid back and informal.)
Debbie: Jeff and I will be there. (I knew this much: we had talked over coffee at City Brew on Wednesday.)
I knew some of our group members would not be able to make it due to various family plans, including a trip to the lake house and a day at GNP. (In Montana it’s Glacier National Park, not Gross National Product.)
Others can’t make it, but Cindy, she of many friends, is coming.
Sunday after church we are in the open air lobby when Mary Kay, one of the pastors, calls out to me. She introduces me to Sandy; she and her husband Eric moved here two months ago, and they bought a place just past us. (People who live near us! Folks who live further out than we do!) John joins us, then Eric; Mary Kay moves on. The four of us chat until we are the only ones left in the lobby and church staff are closing the doors.
(As we step outside) Do y’all have plans tomorrow? We are having a few friends over for a cookout and some shootin’; can you join us? Big smiles and “We’d love to!” “Great! Will you bring a dessert? And your guns?”
While munching some lunch in the Subway parking lot, John and I make a quick list for Walmart:
Red plastic plates and bowls
I envision a quick run in and out of Walmart. Maybe $40?
But who am I kidding? Have I forgotten that I am with the one for whom Walmart is a shopping adventure? For whom a list is merely a jumping off point? (It is a lot more fun to shop with John than with me.)
We start in the Garden section.
“Do we have charcoal?” Neither of us can remember from last fall.
“Wanna get this?” John asks, pointing to a large two pack of charcoal for $7.89. “That is a great deal on charcoal and we will use it,” I reply. Into the cart.
“Do we have lighter fluid?” Perhaps I should have been a bit more structured before we left the house. Laid back and informal has a way of backfiring on me. Kingsford or Walmart brand? Is there any difference? Walmart brand into the cart.
Oh my gosh, the mosquitoes this year! “Citronella candles?” Four into the cart.
How many of these mesh foods tents made the trip from Atlanta? One? Two? A boxed pair into the cart.
A pair of 12×18 American flags on wooden dowels for only $1.97? Into the cart.
Red checked tablecloth with clips? It’s only $2.96 and reusable. Into the cart.
One three pound package of ground beef or two? What if everyone eats two burgers? What if our friends decide to come back from their lake house early? Into the cart. Into the cart.
“We need more tea!” Into the cart.
Somewhere along the way I throw caution to the winds and decide that the millennials are right. YOLO! You only live once.
We stagger out of Walmart with a full cart and a receipt for $134.79.
But now I am caught up in the moment. “Wait, honey. Those chair cushions I showed you? The ones I have been eyeballing for a couple of months? I am going back for them.” I emerge ten minutes later with four cushions AND four pillows. Those teak chairs on our back porch are so much more comfortable with pillows for lumbar support.
“Pillows, too?” “Yes, pillows, too.”
Later I am mulling over that $134.79 receipt in my mind, and the realization hits: Not a single item, even the three pound packs of meat, was over $10.00. I pull the receipt and examine it. Of forty-two items, only four were over $5.00.
How does this happen?
But you know what? Sometimes you just gotta shout YOLO!
We had so much fun! The kind of fun that makes me forget to take pictures. Just enjoying the evening. Although I could not resist when I was going back to the shooting range from the house and I saw two of our chickens on the fence.
We laid out a variety of guns on the table at the range. We had a blast! (Sorry, I simply could not resist!) Sandy and Eric had done very little shooting and they both turned out to be naturals. All the ladies want a “Girlie Glock,” my Glock 43 subcompact. Eric wants a .22AR like John’s.
After everyone had their fill of shooting, we moseyed to the back porch. It looked so festive with my new cushions and pillows, flags bungeed to the posts, citronella candles burning, table with the red checked tablecloth laden with food. The burgers smelled heavenly. Or was it the grilled onions?
We feasted on chips with homemade onion dip, deviled eggs, burgers, beef kielbasa, baked beans, cole slaw, pasta salad, lemon cake, and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.
Appetites sated, we talked and visited until after 10 PM. We ended the evening with hugs and handshakes all around, fresh eggs to take home, and promises to do this again soon.