It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of Labor Day. Initially called to honor the impact and importance of the American worker, the celebration now calls for leisure, and we are all about elevating leisure here at The Overserved.
These September festivities, as much about one last dance for the summer as celebrating the heat's pending demise, are a special ritual in Texas. Lake or pool-bound, we share final sunburns, a perfect day drunk and the last days of procrastination before fall. Ever the students, those of us without summer vacations still find a way to pretend, even if it's just a feeling.
These perfect day parties do not come effortlessly, though that is ideal. A well-curated guest list, like a playlist or a recipe, has the power to guide the day in directions you never intended, provide surprising flavors or deflation. Your core group is wonderful, I have no doubt, but a good guest and a good friend aren't always the same. We are lucky when they are.
A level of commitment is important. Invite the generous music snob, as he will purchase reggae records just for your party. He already has a portable record player, and he will obsess over the '70s-era sleeve art.
Is one of your hosts a cocktail-whispering whiz? Just bring champagne; she's been fussing over a very fancy punch and there is no need to steal the liquor spotlight. Don't forget to throw in a few troublemakers. Thanks to their foresight, the contrary food critic on the grill will be forced to drink birthday cake-flavored vodka. Repeatedly.
Which brings us to peer pressure. You have created a safe place among friends, and hopefully a few new strangers, where you can demand chugging and cannonballs and walks at dusk to 7-11 for Miller Light, flour tortillas and, um, Oreos.
Someone, probably one of the troublemakers, thought to chill that bottle of Maker's Mark in the poolside cooler. Someone, like a tribe chief, pulls it out and makes everyone shoot from the bottle. It passes like a peace pipe. You look down into the bottle, and next to you a friend says, "Suffer. For the story." And you smile. And you do.
This fireball is cooling and we will soon put jackets on and meet inside, or around a campfire. So suffer the details of that last night swim. The fall is coming, and we will need something to talk about.