“Ring the Bell” party, 2005

I’ve heard of this party, but never really attended – until this year. My friend Mike throws an annual Ring the Bell party, that typically involves a bell, a lot of group/outdoors events, and a general pop culture trivia quiz. Oh, and a crapton of beer, too.

In years past, the bell has been one of those State Fair Carnival bells, complete with the mallet and everything. This year though, the bell was a regular bell, hung up high in a tree with a donger hanging from a string. You’d have to shimmy up the rope, before getting close enough to ding the bell.

The words on the bell are killing me: Strength, Wisdom, Sobriety, Moral Clarity.

Sadly, by the time Juliet and I arrived, it was already fairly late (and fairly code). I did not make an attempt to ring the bell. Also, we missed out on a lot of the outdoor activities, earlier in the day. To hear the accounts, there were timed relay races (involving teams of people and one very large log), archery contests and hatchet throwing. All of which, took place on the nearby elementary schoolgrounds.

Next year, I’ll make it a point to attend the whole affair. I’d love to document the entire party, start to finish.

Out back in the shed, the keg of beer.

I mentioned a Pop Culture quiz, right? This is sort of a tradition at Mike’s party, and I believe Dan is the one who creates the quiz. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the quiz itself, so you’ll just have to live vicariously through my video.

Prizes were given out to the top scores. The quiz was in two parts: on one side were general knowlege, fill-in-the-blank questions; on the other side were movie quotations, which you had to match up. I, unfortunately, did poorly.

Leave it to a bunch of writers/teachers to integrate a quiz as part of the party. In many ways, this sort of thing is exactly why I love my MFA friends.

View from the upstairs porch, looking down on the campfire/grill. I got to see my friend Debbie, who I haven’t seen in many, many years. She was a friend of Ann’s as well, and the two of us spoke about our memories of her.

In many ways, it felt good to remember Ann with someone else. I’ve talked some with Matt and Juliet about her, but for the most part – it’s something I keep to myself. And while there were others who knew her, it felt good to talk with someone who was in close contact with her. Debbie and I both had this bit of sadness that we kept with us, and it felt good to share it with one another.

Inside Mike’s apartment, I spotted this guy and just had to grab a photo. I recognized the style before I recognized the name… but it took me just a few seconds to remember where I had seen this guy’s work before.

Later on in the night, folks ventured upstairs to Mike’s attic to pick up instruments and play some music. I ended up pairing off with Akhim, his girlfriend (whose name I’ve forgotten), and another couple (also can’t remember their names) for a bit of poker. After a quick dip to Akhim’s car for some chips, we each throw down $20 and deal out the cards.

Though he played an aggressive game, Akhim (right) was the first to go out. I stuck around a bit, but got knocked out soon after. The couple (the guy in the first picture and the gal in the second) ended up being the last two players… and we all decided they could just split the pot.

Both of them were quite strong at poker. Though I lost fairly early, it was still a blast to play poker again – especially against people I had never played before.

Near my seat, I spotted this nice quotation from MLK.

Outside, at the end of the evening, warming up by the fire.

Juliet and I tried to call a cab circa 3:30 AM. We waited and waited and waited, to no avail. Finally, we were the last two people in Mike’s house, and sat with him a bit. He gave us mugs of water, and as we rehydrated, we talked some about David, and his death.

After almost 45 minutes of waiting and calling and calling and calling, we decided to risk the walk up to High Street in the hopes that we could wave down a cab. As we were leaving though, around 4:30 AM, a cab pulls up in front of the house, and Juliet and I pop in.

I’m telling you – the cabs in Columbus? It’s terrible. You call for taxi, and maybe an hour later and maybe one will show up. On more occasions than I’d like to mention, I got behind the wheel of a car when I probably shouldn’t have. The cab excuse is what I leaned on, while living in Columbus. Now that I’m in Chicago, where cabs roam the streets at all hours… I dislike driving at all if I’m drinking – even if it’s one drink.

Long night! I can’t remember the last time I was out and about until nearly 5AM.

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