The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

July 4th-ish, Part Two: Island of Misfit Toys

It’s PERILOUS, in middle age, throwing last-minute SOCIAL events— And by last MINUTE, I mean SENDING out bravely cheery emails at 8 o'clock the night BEFORE—

But THAT’S how desperate my fellow divorced-mom-whose-children-had-much-more-fun-things-to-do-with-their-outdoorsy-dads girlfriend ERIKA and I were, for July 4th. What with all the families we knew disappearing to like San Diego and the HOLIDAY falling awkwardly on a Wednesday, it was going to be us and two skinless chicken breasts on a bachelor pad HIBACHI if we didn’t act fast—

But unbelievably, it turns out we act TOO fast—

Because no sooner do I send my TOTALLY LAST MINUTE night of July third INVITE than I get an email right BACK back from my friend Paula, a longtime single MOM whose DAUGHTER has just ABANDONED her— To go to the University of Chicago on a scholarship— Still, it FELT like an abandonment—

“Oh my gosh,” she writes back. “I was just about to invite YOU to a last MINUTE thing I’ve suddenly decided to host, a picnic, with wine and a hike to see the fireworks from Santa Monica!”

“Dang!” I write back. “That sounds much more fun than what WE’RE doing—huddling in a land-locked backyard and pretending we know how to barbeque but you didn’t INVITE me on time, did you?”

“That’s right,” she says. “Which is why I don’t have QUITE enough people. I have a painfully shy Korean engineer with a nerdy math teacher from my daughter’s old school plus my cousin Sarah who literally IS a nun plus this droopy guy I met on match dot com— No sparks but he’s a nice enough guy and I always feel sorry for him over the holidays— It’s a Terrence McNally play without the wit. I’m going to hide in the kitchen and drink myself into a Bolivian—” She literally types “A Bolivian.” “We really need you and Erika with your fun-loving party energy! You can still come!” she wildly insists.

“No, I can’t!” I say. “Because it looks from my IN box like my married COUPLE friends Tom and Ann just NOW RSVP’ed for OUR sad little thing with THEIR angry 20 year old SON, who still lives at HOME! Oh, and look at this— my perennially depressed 52 year-old BACHELOR friend Carl is coming. He is absolutely EUPHORIC to be invited and is bringing two pots of his famous beans! My friend Erika is afraid of both him AND his tiny yapping dog— This is going to be the barbeque from hell!”

But in fact, come five o’clock, we were grateful to be ANYWHERE and in fact had such a good TIME—lawn-bowling, crawling on the roof to see fireworks—I swore if anyone from my Island of Misfit Toys abandons me NEXT year, on July 4th? Bombs WILL burst in mid-air.