The rain was supposed to fall. It was predicted to fall, and it looked as if it would fall. But it held off, thus giving friends of Rosa de Leon Gardiola a glorious day to celebrate her 80th birthday.
Crews of workers and caterers created a side-yard party space with seating for about 60 in classy yellow-and-white-draped tables. The caterers, about ten in all, invaded at about 9:00 a.m., setting up positions at the buffet line, and establishing a dish washing station behind a curtain in the corner of the yard. Two employees, probably those with the least seniority, worked this station full time.
A quick regression: the night before Inay's party, the neighbor across the street blared his karaoke machine at full blast from about 4 p.m. to exactly 15 minutes past midnight. The author embraces a to-each-their-own attitude when it comes to neighbors, especially neighbors in foreign countries. But this guy was out of control, screeching power ballads, disco hits and songs from various local artists. In the author's mind, revenge and retaliation were considered, and rejected by the slimmest margin.
Now back to Inay's party. It's 10 a.m., and who now comes carrying huge karaoke speakers from across the street? The same neighbor! As the French race car driver from Talladega Nights says: "Now the matador dances with the blind shoemaker."
At about noon, the bar was officially open (cold San Miguel's in the indoor fridge, and black label in the corner with Margie's colorful cousins, a group led by Kuyas June, Joseph and Boy). Father Ricky got things going with "You are my Sunshine." The author followed with a tasteful "Lay, Lady, Lay," and things advanced or deteriorated, depending on one's point of view, from there.
In the sober morning, it's clear that three award winners from the Karaoke slam were:
• Honorable mention: Cuya Boy -- not talented vocally, but he put his heart into it, and he was generous with cigarettes.
• Runner-up: Bart Barretto -- our own mini-Arnel Pineda. Fueled by San Miguel, our beloved brother-in-law powered through several classics late in the afternoon.
• Champion: The guy who looked like Pacquio. He sat there quietly with his young family for most of the morning and early afternoon, but when he stepped up to the microphone and selected U2's "With or Without You" the field took notice. And when he turned loose his pipes, the very ground seemed to shake, and a thousand twangling instruments hummed about our ears.
Also, the food was delicious, and all the guests were fantastic, warm and friendly -- even the guy who seemed to sneak in and sat by himself the whole time.
|Inay's house, transformed.|
|The author sings: "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon." Father Rickey at right.|