I am a proud Homeowner here in The City That Still Has “Ground Rent,” and deeper still, I am a Good Neighbor. When I make a party at my house, I make sure we respect those living nearby, and we’re not hella noisy after, I dunno, 9 p.m., 10 p.m., depending on what’s going on, but also a good idea is always invite your neighbors to any party you are having, unless maybe you are doing some sorta sex-type thing, in which case it might be awkward, I think, to have to see the Neighbors after one of those ’70s Key Parties Where You Put Your Keys in a Bowl or whatever, yikes, but that’s not what I’m talking about, man, I’m talking about a good old-fashioned House Party where there is Loud Music and people yammering away about nothing for hours, and you drink some drinks, and eat some food, and ideally, coming outta this cruel, cruel Winter, we are gonna be barbecuing some stuff, and look, if you show up, don’t be a schnorrer, you know, bring something, man, some food to share, or at least cover your own freaking beverage consumption, you know, Jesus Christ, nobody is that fucking charming to keep showing up empty-handed, c’mon, even if you are re-gifting a bottle of wine somebody brought to one of your lame-ass parties, bring something, jeez. Personally, I am not at all charming, so as a Defensive Measure, I never show up empty-handed, and there are a few things I generally bring, and they are Sure-Fire Party Favorites, to wit:
1. More drinks than you will personally consume. Not just alcohol, OK? This means if you generally drink a couple-few of the cheap-ass supermarket-brand fizzy water, bring a coupla sixers. If you drink Mass Quantities of Natty Boh, bring at least a 30-pack “suitcase,” you know? It’s the opposite of camping, where you are supposed to “leave only footprints,” see? Leave consumables behind!
2. Drinks equal-to or better-than drinks you will personally consume. You know what I’m talking about, Person Who Brings the 30 of PBR and Then Drinks Exclusively from Somebody’s Stash of Crafted Beers or Whatever. Yeah, you drop less than a double-sawbuck on some brackish swill, then you get to guzzling sweaty bottles of stuff that costs that much for a six-pack, or if it’s really good shit, a fucking four-pack. Everybody sees you, man.
3. Almost any kind of cookies. At some point in the party, it doesn’t matter, you know? Even if there’s already a lavish spread and it’s all some kinda high-quality Catered victual, if you throw down a pack of those cheap-ass sugar cookies from the Dollar Store, you will be a Hero to someone there at a certain point in their Drunk Munch moment.
4. Some sorta food item you made yourself. I like to bring deviled eggs I make myself, and I honestly have no idea if the deviled eggs are all that, but you get lots of points for the Effort, you know? “Oh, look! You made these?”
5. Something for the children. We’re talking about a party for Adults, here, and I’m not talking about the party guests, I’m talking about the generally uninvited or already-present children. You did not come to the party to hang out with kids, I’m betting, but Children are The Future, and you need to be nice and acknowledge their existence as potential Human Beings, and that you are willing to tolerate and peacefully coexist with them. If it’s a single wee one, you can make a big deal outta presenting them with a small toy animal figurine, and that gets you points with the host (generally the source of already-present children at affairs), and if you’re thinking there’s gonna be a mob of rugrats, a bag of balloons is always a good move, because they are educational. Or something. I dunno, what kid doesn’t like a balloon? Furthermore, if any given child does not respond to the fun-potential of a balloon, you’re doing the parents a favor by pointing it out, and they can go get the kid checked out. It’s a win-win.
6. Money. The key to this move is you do not make any kind of a big deal about it. You find one of the hosts, and, in the manner of Sharon Stone in the Major Motion Picture “Casino,” you fold up a 20 and then under the cover of shaking hands, pass that along while saying, maybe, “Great party, here’s something for the house, thanks a lot.” But then move away quickly, to eliminate the opportunity for a Polite but ultimately Awkward and Insincere refusal. Who doesn’t want some money? Don’t be insulted, go give it charity or something, I don’t care, let’s have a party here, c’mon!
7. A Pizza. I swear before Andhrímnir, the chef of the Norse gods, you can never make a mistake bringing a pizza to any event, seriously, I think you could bring a pizza to a fucking funeral, and I’m talking while they are lowering the Dear Departed into the ground or whatever, and if you show up with a pizza? People would be like “Hey, a pizza, nice!”
So look, I’m just saying right now that I am looking forward to the Season of Outdoor Parties and I’m a Good Neighbor, if somebody needs me to turn down the Kool & The Gang, I have no problem turning it down, no need to call the fucking cops, just fall by and have a word, you know? Then I’ll convince you to stay and have drink or maybe a little something to eat, c’mon, it’s not that loud now, right? Good Neighbor!