An evening to remember

Why did the waiter fall into the swimming pool? Witnesses heard a shout and a splash, and then the cry “Man overboard!” Okay, I made up the last bit, but an “Oh! Oh! Oh!” susurrated through the party. Something had happened, and as Indians, everyone gawped as the poor young lad, shocked into silence and speechless with the cold, tried to find a footing on the pool’s floor. His platter of kebabs floated surreally to the bottom of the pool, there to rest like corpses. Another waiter pulled him out, slipping and sliding. As he stood dripping on the pool deck, a towel was handed to him. Guests stood around sipping their cocktails, marvelling that he hadn’t turned blue.

“He needs a change of clothes,” my wife said, stepping forward to take charge. None of us had clothes to spare at the cottage — we still carried clothes to and from the farm, not keeping any in storage yet — but quick thinking led her to head for the caretaker’s hut. Having seen her take charge, everyone went back to drinking and dancing, and I went back indoors to check on the food arrangements. A few moments later, my wife stormed into the living room to ask why I couldn’t have taken the waiter to get changed. It turns out, the caretaker wasn’t in, so my wife had to forage through his clothes in absentia to find some that would fit. “I had to find him underwear,” she remonstrated with me later, but how was I responsible for that?

But why did the waiter fall in the swimming pool in the first place? He hadn’t been drinking, or so we were told. And since his scope of work was the grill counter and not the bar, he couldn’t have been tippling surreptitiously. We hadn’t factored in anyone falling into the pool but my son had had the forethought to have it filled. “Just in case,” he’d said then, which I had imagined to imply someone wanting to go skinny-dipping under the moon. Now he was gloating. “Told you,” he said. Without the water, we would have had someone with broken bones. Now, at worst, we had no more than a case of sniffles and some embarrassment.

Witnesses disclosed the waiter’s crime was one of impropriety. His eyes were temporarily distracted by a young lady’s passage, causing his humiliating fall from grace to disgrace. “Serves him right,” said the young lady in question, when she heard. Perhaps she spoke too soon though. By the time the evening was over, we had a list of casualties that was as long as it was varied. One friend had walked into a glass door. (The door survived.) She sat with a packet of ice clutched to her forehead for the rest of the evening. Another fell on the dance floor, earning himself a slash across his nose.

A further inventory is required to list the demeanours of the evening. Five youngsters threw up, all of them inside the cottage. The smell is still lingering some days later. An equal number passed out — on sofas, beds, on the lawn. Some had to be carried to their cars (fortunately, none of them was driving). The Party Smart tablets they had consumed were clearly not working. The leftovers filled the fridge to overflowing because no one ate (they only drank). We ran out of Disprins.

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