Today is the day of the company picnic. It'll be a light continental breakfast, a meet-and-greet with some trivia games, then a barbecue and lawn games. I usually camp out by the bocce court- reminds me of family gatherings at the ancestral homestead in the Bronx. I always get a kick at how quickly the bocce n00bs transform into cutthroat competitors. The games will be fierce come afternoon.
I've taken the precaution of slathering myself with a combination SPF 30 sunscreen and citronella-based insect repellent. I smell like a candle, which is better than smelling like a big, sweaty mook, which is a people repellent.
I had mistakenly believed that the festivities would start at ten (things start at eleven), so I arrived at my principle workplace around 9:30. The parking lot is spacious, so we carpool to the picnic site, which has a cramped lot. Right now, I am sitting in a picnic area overlooking a particularly pretty part of the property. It's been a while since I've seen the place in late morning. There's a woman typing away on her laptop at one of the tables, and a middle-aged couple were cuddling at another table. It's a nice spot- not a bad place to be stuck at work at all.
UPDATE: The picnic was a rousing success. It began with coffee and tea service, and then a special guest, an employee of New York State's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation gave us a talk about the various parks in the vicinity of our main office. Her initial contact with our organization was to discuss eel conservation in one of our on-site bodies of water. She then led us on a hike along a trail adjacent to our grounds, pointing out invasive plants and discussing how the profile of plant life can give an indication of previous land-use. Certain plants are associated with former farms, and large, spreading oaks can be former "shade trees" from old pastures. It was a fantastic presentation, and the hike whetted our appetites. The catering was great- it was a BBQ with a wide variety of salads and entrees, including a savory corn pudding that the catering staff indicated was a secret recipe that the owner didn't even share with them.
After lunch, it was time for games. My department head is a "horseshoes" aficianado, so horseshoes is our official game. I was playing one of the guys on the day crew- a grueling match which came to a draw, when we both looked at each other and said, "I'm a paisan, you're a paisan, it's time for bocce. After a long, drawn-out bocce match, a couple of the ladies (including one of last year's bocce n00bs, now a seasoned competitor) joined us for a mixed doubles match, another fierce bout. We eventually stopped keeping score, because we were shooting the breeze as we played.
The band that played the event was great- The Ebony Hillbillies are an African-American string band. They are reviving a style of roots-music that tragically fell out of favor because white performers in blackface co-opted it back in the early 20th Century. Their performance was truly out-of-this-world.
Finally, as a dispatch from the school of snappy comebacks, my bocce doubles partner took one look at the shapeless, narrow-brimmed hat I was wearing to protect my glabrous noggin (it's a soft hat, the kind that can be rolled up and stuck in one's pocket-for the record, I hate wearing hats, even though they're a necessity in summer and winter), and said, "That hat does nothing for you." I quipped, "Nuh-uh, it decreases my chances of getting melanoma."
A good time was had- I got to see a lot of daytime employees I don't see that often, and everybody seemed to have a ball.