I spent much of the day digitally scanning old slides from the 60s and 70s and ripping music from the 50s and 60s. It was clearly what you call a retro day. I remember thinking that as I sat there in my spats and zoot suit.
What wasn't retro was the edible bouquet that arrived in the morning. In these "Hard Financial Times" (as I believe the newspaper is now called), people consider flowers somewhat extravagant, not having a practical value. So the new thing is fruit in the shape of a bouquet of flowers. The fruits are peeled and shaped and stuck on plastic sticks. This being the US, some fruits are covered in chocolate. I'm not knocking it. In fact, the banana covered in black and white chocolate won several Saliva™ awards or the Droolies™ as they're known.
The county where Cath's parents live is dry. This doesn't mean arid, although Texas is somewhat desert-like; it means alcohol is not for sale. Anyone who wants alcohol and time, day or night, has to get in their car and drive as far as the next county. Although, in fact, the local law was recently relaxed and it is now possible to get some alcohol at certain places and times, although I'm not sure of the specifics. This was fine by me as I was using this week to have a rest from the old short-sighted devil called alcohol. It was a scheme that lasted nearly a week after I got back to Amsterdam.
The reason for all the earlier retro activity was that we were celebrating Cath's parents' 50th anniversary. There was a party, held at a nearby hotel. There was a bar, but it was not a bar-partaking group. Many of the kin being god- and beer-fearing folk. I can't say as I have ever been to a gathering like this where someone didn't get drunk, so that was a novelty.
There was a toast and everyone was given Champagne glasses. What was in the glasses was not actually Champagne, but cider. And it was not actually cider, but what Americans call cider, which is really fizzy apple juice. Even so, people had to be told this, as there was some concern that it was alcoholic. The uproar had they been told it was Champagne and they must drink it would be nothing compared to the uproar at a British wedding were they served alcohol-free fizzy apple juice.
The party had a lot of speeches and reminiscences about the happy couple, most often about how helpful and supportive they were. In Cath's family there are a lot of people who have seen and done a lot and paid witness to great social changes. To me it's a history lesson every time they get to speak.
The downside of many people being older is that they don't stay up late and party like they used to. Although for jetlagged people always looking for their next bed fix, that's not necessarily a downside.
We chipped in a bit to make sure the bar staff got some tips for the night. It's quite normal in America for bar staff not to be paid by the venue, but by them receiving the tips. To European eyes, it seems morally suspect, but Americans are generally happy with it as part of their culture as they tip almost everybody. I've put a jar by the bed just to see how strong this compulsion is in Catherine. Not very, it seems.
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