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The Party Is Over
1/8/2015 11:44:01 AM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I am back in the saddle again and ready to take on even more challenges this year. Last year went out with a bang and along with it many folk. I don’t know about y’all but I am grateful to be counted among the living. Surely, I am not the only one that lost friends and love ones last year which is why I have chosen a light topic to kick the year off. Let’s reflect on the good ole days when y’all used to party hardy.

I am from a tight knit family. My sisters and I hang out a lot dining and shopping. The party’s over! We used to hang out a lot so we know each other’s history. I will not divulge my sister, Gwen’s, identity but listen up. We were rehashing how we used to party and hang out. Did you get that? “Used to” by Webster’s definition means habit or routine. By my definition “used to” means finish or done. Here we were at a family dinner together on New Year’s Day reflecting on how we “used to” do this and “used to” do that. It got me to thinking whether we can still do anything. Since I was older, she always wanted to hang with me. Needless-to-say, I got her in trouble a time or two.

It’s something else when you look back on your life at some of the things you “used to” do. Since it was New Year’s Day, our thoughts turned to how we “used to” get all dressed up for Watch Night Service and couldn’t wait until the Watchman gave his final call that ushered in the New Year, then we were off to the after party at my cousin Irma’s house. We didn’t know then what we know now that Reb had to know we were up to no good. A whole lot of other folk were up to no good too and Reb knew it. Who in the world goes to Watch Night service wearing sequins? And just to think, we thought we were fooling Reb.

At the after party, we would twist the night away and slow drag. In the back of our minds, we knew we had to be ready to work the Emancipation Parade shortly after we got in from celebrating. Even as kids, we stenciled parade signs and helped decorate cars. Y’all do remember, don’t you? We could get in at 5:00 AM, shower up and be to work at 7:00 AM red eyed, liquor breath and all. Well, not my momma’s chern, we might have slipped and slide but we weren’t too big on the liquor. We were raised in a home where no liquor and no cards were allowed. All I had to do was smell liquor and I got dizzy. Until this day I still don’t know how to play cards except Old Maid.

Speaking of drinking, how many of y’all remember Bush Bavarian beer you used to drink back in the day? Put your hands down! You talk about cheap. Like I said my dad was no drinker but maybe once a year he would get himself a six pack. At the time he had six chern and he needed a can for each of us to maintain his sanity. I think my brothers sneaked more beers than he drank but that’s a story for another day. And, how many of you remember “life of Everlasting” old folk brewed for colds? Y’all know they outlawed that stuff. Ok, now put your hands down. Our dad had a cold, so he asked my sister, Gwen, to boil the “bush” meaning the Life of Everlasting for his tea, add lemon, rock candy and honey. Well, my sister, Gwen, Ms. Know it all, dad’s favorite big leg child and every bit of ten boiled the “Bush” beer and added the other ingredients. I am sure you know my dad got well after drinking the hot beer and sweating all night. It’s a wonder he didn’t end up in the ER. The next morning he awoke to find the “bush” still in the fridge and wanted to know how it got there, dah! He had to have known he was drinking hot beer.

Here we are getting ready for Watch Night service and getting sleepy before we even get to church. We can’t even stay awake anymore. My sister, Ethel, I won’t call her name didn’t even go to Watch Night Service because of back problems. The ole grey mare ain’t what she used to be. She is the quiet one but those are the ones you have to watch. She used to hang out so late the sun didn’t shine until she got home; now she is in bed before the street light comes on. Time sure brings on changes whether you are ready for them or not.

Back to my sister, Gwen! Both of us are medication. Once you cross, well I ain’t going to tell you what age barrier we have crossed. I am not giving out any trade secrets. You don’t get to our age without being on something. Well anyhow, it’s a good thing we can’t hang. I tell you God must have a sense of humor. The odds were if we lived long enough we would start falling apart and need medication. So, God waited, and waited and waited to see if we were crazy enough to mix alcohol and medication. He figured, y’all old enough now. I am going to let you make your own decision. What are you going to do? Are you going to keep on hanging out and die early or are you going to take your medication and live longer? The choice was clear.

Y’all talkin’ about hanging, I couldn’t go out unless accompanied by my brother, Ronnie. Mom gave Ronnie strict instructions to keep an eye out for me. Everyone knew Ronnie was “Mr. Clean” and a ladies’ man. When Ronnie and I went out, we separated and we went our own way. The plan was to meet back at our meeting place at midnight because we had to be home by 1:00 AM. One night, we went all the way to Club Manhattan on Catholic Hill with my cousin Fingertips. If y’all parties back in the day, you know Fingertips. We missed our curfew; so, we decided we would sneak around to the back of the house and Ronnie would put me through the window near his bed. And, I would come around and open the door. Well, as fate would have it, daddy was sleeping in Ronnie’s bed. I was pushed through the window onto daddy. Hello daddy, good morning sir! What an idiot moment.

I knew the party was over for me when I purchased a daily medication whatchamacallit pill box. You get up in the morning and head for your medication, then the water and the phone rings. Now, I have forgotten just that quick, did I take my medication? I don’t have any way of knowing so I pour all of the pills out of the bottle onto the counter and count back to the prescription date. If I were taking each pill as prescribed, I should have five left but I have eight. I must have missed some other time. To be on the safe side, I take another. Lord, please help me stay alive. Please don’t let me overdose. The party is over! I may not have a hangover but I am bulging over, leaned over, over weight and overwhelmed.

Stay tuned y’all! Everything is going to be ok this year, y’all hear? Just hang in there.

Nothing is as serious as it may seem.

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