I'm having what you might call a stay-cation--that is I'm vacationing in my own city. I'm house-sitting for my friend, Mary at her house on Weatherby Lake.
Naturally, house-sitting isn't a real chore. All I have to do is bring in the mail and feed her cats (including the one that clawed my face last summer; this bitch-kitty she named Sweetie--of all things).
She says "Make yourself at home...there's beer in the fridge."
The pleasure here is all mine. Her home is a catharsis outside the concrete of my weekly 9-5. Staying here is like the Starting Over house but without the tears and the emotional baggage. Here, you can run out the back door and down the lush yard to the dock before jumping off into the lake. Which is exactly what I plan to do.
My co-worker, Aaron has the biggest man crush on our local meteorologist, Gary Lezak. He subscribes to his weather blog and even makes t-shirts in his honor.
Any mention of the daily weather and Aaron scrambles for his computer to pull up Lezak’s up-to-the-minute forecast. Today, Gary Lezak calls for rain.
"Later, though" affirms Aaron. "We should be clear for the game this afternoon. That's what Gary’s Doppler looks like anyway."
Each year, we take a company outing to a Royals baseball game. We sign up for all the fixings on a potluck list before grilling out in our parking lot. I sign up for bacon—running down to Succotash in the River Market to buy it fresh at the last minute. After lunch, we head over to Kauffman Stadium, or The K as we natives call it. The weather is clear enough for a mild sunburn but I don’t mind. For the first time in the three years we've gone, we actually win this time. 6-5. Take that, Texas Rangers.
After the game, I walk the vast parking lots twice searching for Lynn’s car. Finally, I hail a golf cart. Though I should probably be handicapped or elderly to deserve a ride on the golf cart, the security person drives me past the new construction between Arrowhead and The K to my car now sitting completely alone in the C-lot.
It's starting to rain.
I drive back to the lakehouse resigned that I won't be able to jump in the lake. At least not tonight. Instead, I settle in for a massive thunderstorm watch. The sky is gray, dense and mad--the lakewater reflects such. Lightning strikes hard and close, the wind screeches against the windows and the incessant ping-ping of hail hardens.
Gary Lezak says no to tornadoes but Katie Horner says yes.
I force myself to sleep--I'm an automatic narcoleptic when it comes to emergencies. If I'm going to get swept up in a tornado I'd rather be unconscious for it.
I swig the last of a Boulevard Lunar and batten down into a deep sleep.
I wake up (alive!) and head off for work. I drive through Jo-to-Go and order a coffee, (black with 2 Equals) and drive to work. I actually enjoy the commute. Driving along in Lynn's hybrid, with hot coffee and KCUR playing, I feel fresh--cute, even. Kansas City seems new again as the skyline closes in from the distance. I imagine what visitors see once they arrive here and shuttle in from the airport. And I'm impressed. Again.
It's the weekend in Kansas City and I have options. I could go to a Gen-X networking something sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. I could go see a Journey tribute band at Crosstown Station. The Heartland Men's Chorus is also doing a show called DIVAS (natch). Instead, I return to the lakehouse.
I want to jump in the lake.
There's a mermaid that sits directly across the lake. She is engraved into the marble gesture of a perpetual wave.
I toast her with the half bottle of BITCH wine I've brought down to the dock. And then I jump in the lake. In the pastoral setting, it feels almost ceremonial. The water is cold from the storm but I don't mind. In fact, I jump in three more times.
Mary called. Her oldest son just won $831K in the 2008 World Series of Poker in Vegas. Wow. I don't feel so bad about drinking all of her wine last night.
Today is the 9th Annual 18th Street Fashion Show. Here in the epicenter of KC hip, 18th St. is being transformed into a stage and runway that extends a full city block. Each summer, Kansas City's top designers send a fury of models down the runway past KC's hippest boutiques; Birdies, Spool, Peggy Noland and Habitat.
I'm the house manager of the fashion show this year--in charge of the VIP section that seats 375. Apparently, we have a lot of VIPs here in KC. The theme is Summer at Sea and appropriately I gather the ushers; which we thematically call "the seamen." We’re dressed dapper in sailor whites with scarves and matching Captain hats.
The VIP isn't as fussy as I was warned it would be. Everyone is easily seated, with the one exception of a woman showing up 15 minutes late and repeating "I'm VIP, I've got to sit in the front, I'm a VIP. See I've got a VIP ticket right here!" I threaten to tear up her ticket if she mentions the word VIP again. After all, I'm the Captain of this ship. At least I'm dressed like it. Her friend pinches her and mouths 'shut up, Cathy' before I usher them into the last available seats. Enjoy the show, Ladies!
The designs are innovative and beautiful, the street is full and the show is a well-documented success.
To celebrate, I go to the afterparty. I get a sangria and stand outside a warehouse watching a girl spin balls of fire around in balletesque fury. Shortly thereafter, there is an aerial fabric demonstration where women curl their way through fabrics hung from an 18 ft. ceiling. They nosedive like fighter planes; as elegant as swans.
Later, we sneak over to a speakeasy for the secret party. I utter a password and gain entrance in to what is best called 'a bumping little sugar shack.'
We pass a flask. And we dance. Oh, how we dance.
It's 8 a.m. and I have to go out of town on business. The Super Shuttle comes right to my door--this after the driver has already picked up seven other departing passengers from area hotels like the Intercontinental, Rafael, Marriot and Hyatt. I jump in the front seat next to the driver. Shotgun! We drive and I make small talk with the other passengers, sometimes narrating as we drive. I ask where they're from, I tell them about the new addition at the Nelson-Atkins, I brag about the Performing Arts Center. Oh, you'll just have to come back and see it the next time.
I'm proud and I just want to send the visitors home with a little something extra. In the shuttle, I feel like it's my duty to be a good ambassador and give them a proper send-off. Kansas City becomes my party and, in our bus, I'm it's host.
Hope you had a good time. Come back soon.