Compiling the guest list for our Vieques party was easy—we’d invite who we liked. If mortal enemies found themselves standing shoulder to shoulder on our balcony, they’d just have to cope.
It was the inviting part that was tough. In D.C. we would’ve simply emailed everyone a casual note of invitation, but we didn’t have email addresses for most of the people we knew in Vieques. We doubted that many of them even had a computer.
So we’d have to call them. No big deal.
To call people you don’t have numbers for, you at least need to know their last names.
I realize it may seem strange that we didn’t have such basic information about a high percentage of people we were considering inviting to our little shindig, but that was part of island life.
You knew lots of people but you didn’t necessarily know how to reach them, at least through conventional means.
If you needed them, you’d ask a friend of a friend to tell them to give you a call. Or you’d wait a few days and sure enough you’d run into them in the supermarket line, or bellied up to the bar in your favorite restaurant in Esperanza, and you’d ask them to stop by the next week to take a look at your hot water heater.
Take Chris, for instance, the guy who had worked so hard to finish our downstairs when Steve got sick. We couldn’t imagine having the party without him, and yet we had no idea how to reach him.
Or the charming Lithuanian man who had waited on us the night Jonah encountered the iguana in his bedroom. We’d heard he no longer worked at the same restaurant. How on earth would we find him?
Jane, of course, was the crucial link (as she so often was) for many of these would-be guests.
For the rest, we’d just have to be creative.
Phone calls to Jane had a way of careening wildly from one topic to another without warning. Knowing this, I had developed the eccentric but to my mind utterly necessary habit of composing talking points before I called her.
My talking points for this conversation read: “Guest list for party; phone numbers,” followed by a list of people I thought she might have phone numbers for.
“A party!” she exclaimed, thirty seconds into our call, just as I was preparing to read her my list. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
I gazed wistfully at my talking points, which were losing relevance with every passing moment. “Why wouldn’t it be?” I asked, a note of resignation flattening my voice.
“Oh I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just asking.”
“But by asking you’re implying it’s not.”
“Hey buddy, don’t put words in my mouth.” This spoken in her best faux tough-guy voice, followed by a raucous laugh.
“Okay Jane,” I said, suddenly weary. “Give me two reasons why we shouldn’t have a party. No, give me three.”
There followed a short pause. Maybe she was the one compiling talking points now. “Well, I’ll probably end up doing most of the work. That’s number one.”
“For which you’ll be paid handsomely.”
“Okay, scratch that one.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I just can’t imagine it working out.”
“That’s not a reason. That’s a lack of imagination on your part. Number three?”
Another pause, this one longer. “I know you won’t believe this, but I’m kind of weird about parties. Basically I don’t like them. And I’ll feel obligated to come to yours.”
“Then I won’t invite you.”
“You don’t invite me, I’ll never speak to you again.”