BOSTON, MA – A majority of the Walsh family celebrated the breakdown in talks aiming to bring a large barbecue to the area family’s suburban residence. The “massive end of summer bash” was deep sixed when father Matt Walsh recognized his overriding responsibility to protect his family from undue expense or inconvenience.
Clearly ambivalent, Walsh Sr. explained that he admired the family pride and ambition that wife Shirley and youngest daugher Emily brought to planning the get together. “Obviously a big cookout is a great thing to bring family and friends together. We even talked about inviting some of the neighbors. We’d have a reason to put our volleyball net up in the side yard, and there’s the patio out back. With the grill going and a couple of coolers of beer and soft drinks, something like this could be a real catylst for bringing the neighborhood together.” Shirley Walsh brought up the possibility that most of the food arrangements would be covered by a “pot luck” system, and that it would be easy to open up space in the fridge and make the oven available for guests with hot dishes.
However, oldest daugher Sara and twins Mike and Jack put up a surprisingly early, well organized, and persistant resistance to the idea of a “big do” on Spruce Street. “Everyone knows,” Sara said patiently, “That these things never work out in favor of the hosts. People blow off their RSVPs; people mooch shamelessly. You can forget about them bringing good beer. I just know that even if we shell out for microbrew we’re going to end up with a cooler of Budweisers floating in tepid water. Dad says he’ll take care of all the shopping beforehand, but he’ll have to send me out at the last second to buy more steak or something. Yeah I could save the receipt, but what guarantee do I have that he won’t forget to pay me back?” Shirley Walsh reluctantly conceded that if friends didn’t take their leftovers right back with them that night, they’d be sure to leave only their ugliest, most awkwardly shaped tupperware behind. “I’d probably take it to work in the trunk of my car, forget it for three months, and then guiltily try to return it, only to find that they didn’t want it back.” Her husband furrowed his brows and appeared to ponder this statement, but not before an expression of neurotic anger flashed across his face.
Emily Walsh was looking forward to finally inviting her friends to swim in the Walsh’s above ground pool, which has been covered all summer, only to see her most powerful argument turned against her by her brothers. Said Mike Walsh, “If opening the pool is such a big priority for Emily, she should just open the pool. She probably hasn’t priced out pool cleaning and chemicals for a while.” Added Jack, with a significant look, “We know whose shoulders this is going to fall on: clearing off the patio, digging everything out of the basement… and when’s the last time you saw Dad pushing the lawn mower? Then the cleanup. All for leftover bean salad?” Sensing an irretrievable disarray in the pro-parties party’s party-planning, Sara Walsh pushed hard on the question of infrastructure. “I distinctly heard that there was going to be volleyball in the side yard, but now Mom’s offering to sacrifice her hydrangea to allow cars to get in there. We can’t do both.” Mom insisted that talks with the Hatchers for next door parking rights were “progressing”.
Several times during the fraught family meeting, the Walsh paterfamilias offered to put matters to a vote, but the no partisans saw the advantage of letting things drift into a stalemate. With rational decisionmaking off the table, they began needling their father with the concession that they would support any family activity he wished as long as he offered them blanket immunity from any personal sacrifices or alterations of their routine of any kind. Finally Walsh snapped, “We probably just aren’t the kind of family that has parties.” Emily Walsh later sniffed, “Now that we’re not doing it, our friends will probably go party with that redneck Johnson family that likes to set off illegal fireworks and always starts a brawl. Or even with the Smiths; you can’t leave your car in their neighborhood.”