Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blackhawks Party, With a Twist

A few weeks ago over coffee I declared that it was time. To party. Mr. Musky wanted no part of this. No way. He hates throwing parties, despite the fact that I love it.

But then I enticed him.

"What if we invite your college friends, since we didn't see them this year during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament?"

He pondered my offer for a moment, then relented. "OK. That sounds good."

I emailed his buddies AND some of mine, because seriously. I mean, come on. But what I didn't clue him into right away was our mystery guest, Debbie Donato. Along with her husband, Mario. And her cameraman, Patrick.

Yes. I said cameraman.

See, Debbie is working on a creative outlet of her own. She is pitching an idea for a TV show for the cooking channels, and I offered to help. She's a party goer. And her TV show concept is to highlight entertaining in the home by filming parties, whether it's inside or outdoors, a full sit-down meal or a barbecue buffet, in a million dollar mansion or in a trailer home. I met her at Beth's Table when she filmed a Poker / Chili party thrown by Beth, so I offered to have her come over and film a party at our house.
Debbie arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon, and got to work with her crew right away. They filmed outside first - walking up our driveway, retrieving a mock invitation from the mailbox, talking about "Jen and Tony" - then eventually worked their way to our front door.

The greeting in our foyer required approximately 50 takes, thanks to yours truly. Acting is definitely not my forte. For crying out loud, I couldn't even get her name right. I'm sure that a grown man on the other side of the door whispering instructions didn't unnerve me or anything. And yes, I heard how he's been under the employ of Universal Studios for his skills in Johnny Depp's Public Enemies and was reminded that his paycheck from said studio is still hanging behind the bar, just in case I forgot.
Debbie brought me the sweetest hostess gift - a bottle of Jimmy Luv's Bloody Mary Mix since that was the signature drink of the night, wrapped in a red blanket which will definitely accompany me at Jake's future hockey games. So cute and clever!

We eventually sat down at the kitchen table for my "interview." Debbie asked me 20 questions - anything from how I learned how to cook to what 5 items are always in my pantry. This went fine, until we had to redo it from each other's perspective for our "close ups". By then, the party guests began to arrive, and we were a bit behind schedule on the filming.

So we asked everyone to be quiet. Yes - 20 forty-somethings, away from their children for the night, drinking quart sized Bloody Mary's and wine and vodka by the gallons. Did I mention that some of the guests met on past girls weekend excursions and reunited in my basement?

Silence was completely out of the question.

So Debbie and the crew did the best they could, and Mr. Musky went downstairs to encourage everyone to pretend they were at an Irish funeral. At one point, I panicked because I knew they were drinking volumes of alcohol down there and I had ZERO snacks out for absorption, since we still had to film the preparation of the food. I finally threw the appetizers in the oven, leaving out a couple for staging purposes, and delivered them to the monsters in the dungeon.

They lasted less than a minute, I'm sure.

By now I wondered why in the heck I agreed to do this. I had a party going on downstairs, darnit! I wanted to join my friends! But I was stuck upstairs, working. Actors have it rough, I decided. Although, I certainly can't put myself in that camp. I felt like an intern trying to sub in for Miss Peggy on Romper Room without the magic mirror. Not good.

Anyway, I got over it and plowed through the on-screen food preparation. That was actually my favorite part, and felt most natural to me. I guess I wasn't meant to open the door and greet someone or sit at my kitchen table and carry on an adult conversation, but tell me to cook some food? I'm all good.

And so is Mr. Musky. Look! 
Even he got in on the fun, and told Debbie on camera how we make pulled pork. Although before his film appearance he had a few cocktails downstairs at Finnegan's Wake, so it'll be interesting to see his final cut when the editing comes back. There may have been some wild arm and hand gestures during his take.

When we finally moved to the basement with the film crew, we needed volunteers. I nominated some, and they agreed to sample an appetizer with Debbie on-screen. The peanut gallery was in rare form, and there were plenty of jags and snickers and inappropriate comments under the breath. It'll be interesting to see if Patrick's mic picked it all up. I'm sure it did, so don't be surprised if you don't see Moby Mike and my friend Carrie enjoying a bacon wrapped date. They delivered stellar performances, but the audience just couldn't hold back.

Despite hand-held efforts to shut it.
Debbie and her crew got some footage of friends playing table hockey, eating some pulled pork tacos, and the girls watching the game. Miller couldn't handle being quiet any longer, either.
We then asked everyone to stifle it one last time so I could show her how I make my "world famous" Bloody Mary's. I really don't want to see that footage. My dogs were barking, my face was shiny, hair  stringy and I'm sure I sounded like a complete buffoon trying to make those drinks. When I finished, everyone busted out laughing.
I probably had food in my teeth, sounded like a numbskull and made a complete fool of myself. Clearly, as evidenced in the above photo, I needed hair and makeup for a refresh! But I didn't care. Someone placed an apéritif into my hand and I was ready to chill at my own party.
By about 10:00 they declared a wrap, and I finally relaxed. Until 3:30 a.m., when our last guests left. My body completely retaliated the next day, but I recovered by Monday.

As crazy as this sounds, I would totally do it all over again. I'd just have Debbie come at 8:00 a.m. so we could ALL join the party earlier versus trying to act like we're in college, living it up until the wee hours in the morning.

The food was a hit - particularly the appetizers. I'll include the recipes in Friday's post, along with a surprise that someone left me in the basement bathroom.

Party on!


For more information about Debbie's adventure, check out her website here. I've heard that a video clip from our party will be up in the coming weeks. Yikes!

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