9th July, 2011
"Would you come out here and get away from that computer screen for at least one minute?" blasted mum as she swung the bedroom door open with force enough to ruffle the curtains.
"But they're your friends, not mine." I objected frivolously, not being one for socializing especially at parties where everyone was at least twice my age if not thrice that or more.
"You need to get out there and mingle! All you do all day is sit in front of that computer!"
"The problem being?"
"You're getting fat!"
"The problem being?"
"Just get out here! There are people that want to meet you!"
"You do know I can tell when someone's lying to me, right?"
"They're your relatives! Have the common courtesy to meet them at least once!"
I replied with a displeased gurgling and reluctantly peeled myself off the leather computer chair like chewing gum off sun-baked pavement.
I had lost track of time as I had the tendency of doing. It was getting cold and dark outside nothing like the comforting glow of my 27" computer screen which to me seemed more familiar than my own backyard. Surprisingly it was late in the evening yet the party my parents were hosting was still going strong. Music many years my senior filled the air from the speakers in the lounge room at an embarrassing volume and mingled with the smells of barbequed meat and cultural delicacies from my mother's side that lured me out of my shell. I can do this, right? It's just a few oldies my folks know, nothing too demanding of a reclusive socially-inept introvert such as myself. My stomach voiced its approval, a tenuous partnership at best.
The sky was dark though still tinged with a dash of deep blue by a sky that had all but retreated for the day. The well-rusted weather-vane squeaked in a south-east ocean wind and I shivered in a gust that blew by flooding into the freshly-built patio, a family effort of somewhat dubious quality. Gathering cumulus clouds illuminated by city lights below towered behind the trees on the hill, evening coastal showers by the looks of it. I followed the cat as he skillfully and unreservedly maneuvered his way through the crowd, under legs and the legs of tables and chairs, leading me to where dad was sitting slouched comfortably on one of the white glossy plastic chairs chatting with a group of men of similar age, a bottle of wine at the ready.
"Jon! This is a surprise, did mum flush you out?"
"Something like that." I halfheartedly replied, still in a computer-induced and caffeine-deprived daze.
"Everyone, this is my son Jon. Jon, this is everyone."
"Ello." I replied flimsily.
"He's an I.T. professional." added dad unnecessarily.
"Ohh I see I see." replied one of the gentlemen sitting next to him as he fiddled with his distinguished gray mustache.
He reached out to shake, crushing my drawing hand in his time tempered grasp.
"Looks like we might be getting some rain soon." I cautioned, recoiling from the curly mustached man's iron grip.
Dad turned around and looked up at the sky.
"Hey yeah, I think you're right. Better tell your mum." said dad. He leaned forwards towards the group and shielded his mouth with the back of his hand "My son, he's a nutcase when it comes to the weather."
"Ohh, well it's good that he has other interests. Not like my boy, all he thinks about are girls and cars!"
"Jon! Come and have something to eat!" shouted mum from the interim buffet table, with one of those fancy embossed dinner plates in hand; the ones we reserved only for special occasions or whenever the opportunity to show off to their friends and relatives presented itself. Mostly the latter. Several rows of tables were arranged in the backyard shaded by large parasols from a sun that had retreated many hours earlier, the striped type you'd typically take to the beach with you.
I shuffled my way through the crowd gathered around the table thick like flies and grabbed a plate, not that there was much left for me to choose from. The product of my later arrival, it seemed.
As my plate grew steadily heavier under the burden of left-overs, the confusing cacophonous conversations echoing around me in languages I was not even familiar with came to a grinding halt as people diverted their attention skyward.
"Put that plate down and help me move the chairs under cover!" mum abruptly ordered.
Was it raining?
I reached out in front of me with the palm of my hand turned anticipatedly up towards the sky. But nothing.
"Quick, before it starts setting in! Don't let any of it onto your dinner plate!" mum urged.
And then it started, lightly though at first. Kind of like snow. But black. I had seen this somewhere before, maybe in a Sigur Rós music video? I grabbed a flake which smeared on my fingers like coal dust.
"Wash your hands afterwards!" continued mum's indispensable advice like it wasn't already obvious enough to do so.
I shuffled the remaining chairs under the shelter of the table parasols and noticed that dad and those he was chatting with were still anchored in place seemingly indifferent to the strange black snow gently accumulating on them.
"Your getting dusty." I pointed out.
"Not as much as when I worked the mines!" replied dad.
"Tell me," asked the man with the curly mustache, "what kind of clouds are they?"
Was he drunk or was he being serious? Regardless I looked up.
"Well if its a precipitating cumulus cloud, cumulonimbus, I guess. The main rain shaft looks like its going to pass us to the south. Morriset is probably getting the most of it right now." continued my observation as I pointed towards the sky like a professional weather man, contributing more information than I had initially intended as I had the tendency of doing when discussing a subject I had some interest in.
"Jon! Tell your father to get inside now!" shouted mum from a distance as she hurried to clear the tables, stacking plates and cutlery together.
"Looks like mum's getting worked up, you'd better go inside."
Grudgingly he climbed to his feet with the others in one singular synchronized movement and lumbered with a limp back towards the house. From the warm light shining out through open windows I could tell that it was getting crammed in there. Not the ideal habitat for a hermit such as myself I must admit.
"I guess I'll stay out here then." I mumbled to myself. "Best place to be now, am I right?"
"Meow." agreed the cat who sat beneath the table faithfully enduring the elements alongside me.
I sat myself down and watched the black snow slowly darken the lawn, and listened to the voices of those who continued the party inside.