The 200 block of Sydney Street was uncommonly alive this evening, with a well-attended 70th birthday gala for Catherine Hennessey on one side of the street, and a wild indoor/outdoor transvestite gathering on the other.
Catherine (the consort, not the Hennessey) and Oliver have been recovering from a flu-like illness, so I was flung off by myself into the night. Arriving what I thought would be fashionably early at 6:45 p.m., I found the Hennessey gathering in full swing. I also found that I was the youngest person in the room, by about 40 years. Well, maybe 30. Okay, 20. Let’s just say, I didn’t feel that I was hanging out with my peer group, whoever they are.
Regardless of the demographics, it was a hip-happening party, and I emerged, none the worse for wear, 5 hours later. Which is an unusually early close-up for a Catherine Hennessey party, but then again, we’re all getting older.
Oddly, give the demographics, I saw many familiar faces: the Dowlings, Thompsons, and Boylans were there, interesting all (Ivan Dowling sang a lovely rendition of a song that everyone but I recognized, to much applause). Karen Mair was there, without husband Jack. Don Stewart and Kim Device, Beryl and Chris Cudmore, along with Chris’ mother Beth. George Kapelos from Toronto, who I haven’t seen since the big Canadian Living lobster shoot. I think Elizabeth Baird was there too, although I’m not sure. The Hamblys. David and Susan Mackenzie. Ritchie Simpson and Kendra. Gary Carroll and his friends Brian and Valerie from Amherst. Paul and Jane Michael. Many Orfords. All of Catherine’s sisters, of course, including honourary sister Claude. Karen Lipps and Ola Hammarlund. Wade MacLauchlan. John Tupper. Duncan McIntosh. Shauna McCabe. And untold others I didn’t meet, or whose names I can’t remember or spell.
A giant birthday cake was presented (somehow sister Betty and brother-in-law Claude got covered in chocolate icing as part of this proceeding). Innumerable interpretations of Happy Birthday were sung (along with a delightful presentation of hits of yesteryear on the electric piano by an excellent player, punctuated by a capable yet dreadful rendition of Feelings, complete with a switch over to “vibraphone mode” on the piano, which forced me to leave the room).
About halfway through the evening I was sitting in the living room, and caught a reflection in the front window of what appeared to be several naked people dressed only in feathers, glowsticks and Christmas tree garland, all standing holding drinks in Catherine’s kitchen. Have the demographics taken a wild turns towards excitement, I asked myself.
As it turns out, this was not, in fact, a reflection, but an actual event, happening outside and across the street: some sort of wild gathering of young transvestites spilling out on the sidewalk. Catherine was alerted and, with the happy coincidence that Oliver’s present to her was none other than a glow stick, opened the door and rallied the transvestites to her cause. Alas they stayed on their side of the street, and we on ours.
Which was probably for the better, as not 5 minutes later the police pulled up, presumably because it is a crime in Charlottetown to be a transvestite, at least outdoors. I take that back: the thought being locked up for the night in Sleepy Hollow with the transvestites and Catherine’s eccentric collection of octogenarian friends would have been worth the effort.
It was a good night.
Happy Birthday, Catherine.