Tuesday, August 5, 2014


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.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Do Fred and Ginger make an appearance, or are there just too many biped-servants around?

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Fred and Ginger worked their usual site- they had the run of the grounds all day. My coworker Peter just put Fred in his workplace for the night, while I put Ginger in her spot. They have their fun, those two.

Jules said...

Ebony Hillbillies wins best band name. Sounds like an excellent day even you did spend it wearing eau de bug candle.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The "bug candle" scent is a feature, not a, er, uh, bug.