Everyone was at the Brew Park neighborhood New Year’s Eve party. My best friend, Holly, and I were ready to leave and it wasn't midnight. Our husbands had taken our boys home half an hour ago“because they were getting tired”. It was code for “we are bored and want to play video games”. The rest of the men were discussing the potential sports match ups. Nothing our guys cared about. Holly and I were trying to stay awake through Margret’s drone about how wonderful her dog, Telly, did at his latest vet visit.
“He only gained 2oz! Our workout regime for Telly is just perfect. We don’t want to a fatty watty do we?” She kissed his wet nose sticking out of her purse carrier.( The hairless rat-dog thing always growled at me.)
“I love talking with you guys. We should get together more than on holidays.” Whitney was excited. She was a new mom who did not get out much without her 10 month old twins. Her husband had transferred to our area 18 months ago. His work schedule is grueling. She is alone with the girls most of the time.
“That would be fun. And we could talk at regular speed instead of trying to cram six months of conversation in one evening.” Jordan ,the tall brunette from across the street said. “We all tell our stories quickly at the occasional grown up party. Brew Park families are so busy and we rarely take the time to sit and talk with anyone.”
I picked up one of Holly’s pecan chicken pie bites and munched. “Good food.” I said quietly to Holly. She nodded having a slice of my apple caramel pie. The crust was a new recipe of mine. I added almond flour.
“Yeah and we can have food! We could all bring something - a pot luck! We can pick a topic to discuss.” Margret squealed. “I could host the first one! I have to show you the latest in the Forever S line.” Margret always sold the latest home party franchise.
Holly sent me a discreet eye roll. Dr. Holly Cherish and I met every Tuesday and Thursday to talk about our favorite shows and books. We were in the middle of a great sci-if thriller series. Book three was due out in February and we were both in middle of book two.
Margret turned to Holly nodding like a wobbly head toy. “We could be the Brew Parkers !” I almost spit out my drink. The rest of the group nodded enthusiastically making their perfectly sprayed hair dos shake in unison. “Holly will do it. Right, Holly?” Margret chirped.
“I will if Tabitha does.” Holly smirked and raised a perfectly shaped dark eye brow daring me to say no. The others looked on with slightly confused tipsy smiles waiting for my response. Some even looked slightly scared at the idea of me being par of their group.
The women on Earl Gray Lane, our street and the next road over, Oolong Terrace loved Dr. Holly. She was very good at being informed on the latest everything and was very friendly. All the kids lived at her house. It was always stocked with food, games and sports equipment. All the moms loved it because they knew she would watch their kids. In turn, they would sit inside their homes, drink and gossip.
Me, Tabitha Wolf, they didn’t know as well. My husband, John, and sons, J.J. And Michael, were accepted as normal. I kept to myself. I knew my likes and interests were different from theirs. Holly, along with her husband, Dave and their two boys, Tagger and Mitchel, were our closest friends.
“Sure.” I said looking straight at Holly and matched her eye brow raise.
It was decided. Every month, The Brew Parkers would meet at someone’s house. We would all bring a dish and discuss the chosen topic.
The first went well. There were seven of us at the meeting - Jordan, Whitney, Margret, Holly, Beth and Gretchen It was actually fun. The topic was interesting, the food good and recipes were exchanged. The topic was organic foods, fad or long term strategy. We set the date for the meeting and headed home.
On a cold morning in mid-January, John came out of the bedroom dressed in khakis and a button down shirt. With lightly salted brown hair, green eyes and a swimmers build, my husband was a very handsome man. ( I have seen the curtains shift in the neighbor's houses when John mows the yard without his shirt.)Charger, our mammoth mix breed dog , was jumping around the front window in the dining room
“What is so exciting?” John walked over to the dog and scratched his head. “Hey, someone is moving into the blue and tan ranch.”
“Oh. I never knew the house went off the market. Holly and I will make something to welcome them.”With a kiss and hug, John was out the door. I watched him pull out and wave to the moving people.
The snow had stopped and rare, January sunshine appeared. Holly came over to my house and then we walked over. My “Welcome to the Neighborhood” basket consisted of food, beverage and accessories. I had a small bottle of sparkling wine (paired properly with the food) bottle of cola or lemon lime pop (or soda depending on where you are from) chips/crisps, apples, bananas, and a side dish and main dish. Because it was it was winter, I made Shepard’s pie and vegetable soup. I included the fresh oatmeal raisin cookies the guys and I made on Sunday. Holly made her famous deviled eggs, chicken enchilada, and chocolate chip cookies. (Can you tell we like to feed people?)
We approached the man who looked in charge.
“Hi. Are you our new neighbor?” Holly asked.
“Yes. Hello. Jerry Forton.” Jerry had nice smile. He was dressed in a black, quilted parka, jeans and black boots. Jerry put down the box he was holding and shook our hands.
“Hi. Holly Cherish I live at 404.” Holly started.
“Tabitha Wolf. I am across the street. It's nice to meet you. Welcome to the Brew Park.” We extended our baskets. “Fuel to keep you going. Holly's deviled eggs are coveted.”
“Thank you.” Jerry smiled and took out baskets.”Excuse me while I put these in the kitchen.” As he walked away, my writers mind sized everything up. He was mid 50s, 5'10” with a medium build and salt and pepper closed cropped hair. Holly and I watched the furniture being loaded into the house. Mostly light colored furniture and some medium toned oak pieces. Jerry came out of the house with a blond boy about his height late teens or early twenties. “This is my nephew, Roger, he will be with me through the summer. If you can't find me and there is a problem, you can tell him and we will fix it.” Holly and I smiled and shook the boy's hand. The girls on the block would love him. Roger walked up to the moving men and directed them on where to place a monstrous TV.
“Is everyone as generous as you two?” Jerry smiled and handed us each a cup of coffee.
“Thanks. Yes. You have moved to a great neighborhood. Lots of dogs, kids and families that stop and say hello. “ I wanted to paint an accurate picture of the Brew Park life. “If any part gets too loud, just tap a person on the shoulder and they will make it right.”
Margret pulled up in her latest car. She changed cars like Holly and I changed books. Margret waved out the window and shouted “Welcome to to the Brew Park.” and kept driving. Telly barked from her lap. He was bright yellow sunglasses that matched Margret's.