Back in the days before SGI filed for Chapter 11, I had something of a hope of coming into some money. I had slowly been buying company stock, never really very much at a time but after many years I had quite a number of shares. I also had some very generous stock option grants, all of which were completely vested. It wouldn't have taken much at all, perhaps a share price of $5 or $10, for me to have come into what I would definitely call a small fortune.
Of course instead of coming into a fortune I came into nothing at all. Them's the breaks. None of the shares were technically in my modest retirement account, and all told I hadn't really lost a tragic amount of money out of pocket (just a tragic amount of wishful hope). But one of the casualties of this situation was my vague thought of using some of this potential windfall to host a nice party sometime in the vicinity of my 50th birthday.
I don't usually make a big deal of my birthdays. For the most part, I think that big birthday fusses are more suitable for children than adults, although gift-giving and excuses for gatherings are good things in general. I also never felt particular symbolic significance for birthdays-with-a-zero. But over the years many of my longtime friends have invited me to many nice celebrations: Weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversary parties. I sometimes think that I've fallen short in reciprocating.
The imminent arrival of my actual 50th birthday has started me thinking again about planning such a party. It's already too late for this to happen close to the date itself, which just emphasizes that the 50th-birthday milestone is just a handy excuse. But can I do this? Do I want to do this? What would "this" even look like?
Looking at my finances, I probably do have the resources to host at least a modest large party, especially if I make no big trips for a year or so. I have friends who have rented function rooms at restaurants for similar events, and served food buffet style. I could probably even find a simple hall and find a modest caterer (salad, snacks, pasta, dessert). Yes, when I think about it, this is definitely possible.
But then I think it through and I'm not sure what this would feel like, or what people would enjoy. Would it be odd to invite people who live far away to come to Minneapolis for a simple catered party? Would I want to arrange or at least facilitate some other local events for out-of-towners, encouraging them to use this party as an excuse to see some of Minneapolis? Does that start to seem like a strange "Steven Weekend in Minneapolis"?
When I think about this, I envision things like my Morris team doing a couple of dances (even out of season those boys would happily get together if I fed them). I consider asking Bob Walser to call a contra dance (I can easily find a band). Could there possibly be singing? How do you arrange things for such activities to seem natural rather than cute and forced?
Wine, soft drinks, and snacks. Pasta and salad. In come the Morris Men. But then a contra dance might send the non-folkies away. Maybe a hall with two rooms: One for the post-meal dance, one for post-meal dessert and socializing, with comfortable chairs.
Would this be fun for people?
Any thoughts? If an old friend of yours who lived far away invited you to a catered party, what would make you want to come and what would make you enjoy your evening once you got there?
I want this to be about me hosting something that would give my friends an evening of pleasure. I do not want the attention to be on me in any but the most perfunctory way. Are these irreconcilable goals?
I've only been thinking about this for two or three days, but already I'm enjoying the musing.