Saturday evening brought us to Napa, for a party hosted by WG's former co-worker and his wife.
It was a Queso party. A Queso taste-off, because, apparently, in California, people don't know what Queso is. I knew what it was before the fortunate appearance of WG in my life, but only because I bought it once at Cost Plus. It's not exactly a common household treat, although if WG's batch is a good example, it may very well become one.
For those of you who don't know, Queso is essentially melted Velveeta and then whatever spices the chef chooses to throw into the Crock Pot, and yes, a Crock Pot is required. I wasn't aware that that many people under 40 actually owned a Crock Pot, but it's true, Crock Pots are quickly becoming the must-have cooking tool of the hipster generation.
Anywho, the party's hosts are originally from Texas, so they know a great deal about Queso and invited anyone else who did to make a batch. WG's came in second, but he insists he would have come in first had the winner not "garnished" her batch with fresh cilantro, tomatoes and avocado. I tend to agree, and not just because I'm biased, but because his did really taste better to my discerning palate.
Cheesy goodness aside, the thing about this party was the house. The couple rents a home in Napa in a semi-shady, semi-decent neighborhood. It's an older (think 1930's) cottage with one bedroom, one bathroom, a small kitchen, and two sitting areas. And a ginormous backyard. They pay about $200 less a month than I do, and they have hard wood floors, crown molding and a ginormous backyard (did I mention that one already?).
Walking into the house was like walking into an exact image of the home I would like to have someday (although hopefully with more bedrooms). The place is small but functional, the hardwood floors are shiny and original. The kitchen had a fair amount of counter space. The washer and dryer were IN THE BATHROOM. And did I mention the ginormous, landscaped backyard?
Lounging in the backyard, in the perfect Napa weather (WG knows he's spoiled, and that picture perfect weather is one of the reasons I'm hesitant to move, as I might get used to it...as of right now I live in a part of town that's, according to WG, "windier than Oklahoma," and I feel like I'm earning my stripes), talking with new people, I was content.
When we first walked in the door, WG introduced me, and his co-worker looked at me and looked at him and said, "So, she does exist!" Another woman, the wife of another former co-worker, upon being introduced to me, scrunched up her forehead, stared at me and said, "You're a librarian, right?" She'd remembered that tidbit about me, because she, herself, works in a museum with a research library and, thus, finds libraries endlessly fascinating.
Everyone assumed we lived together, or that I, at least, lived in Napa. They were a bit startled to learn that we don't yet co-habitat, because everyone couple at the party either was married or lives together, but it didn't make me crave a rush to the altar. When I don't feel that deep craving for a ring and a joint checking account, I'm always a bit relieved.
WG talked shop with a few folks, and I ended up settling down in a corner of the yard, near the Queso tasting table, of course, with a woman who had an interesting story to tell. She talked about her undergraduate education, she talked about being 32 and pregnant with her first child, she talked about her husband being two years younger than her. We talked about music, websites, recipes. We just talked and talked and talked. It was lovely.
Hours later, full of cheese and Texas beer, we loitered near the kitchen, a couple of different groups still talking. I wandered back inside after being bored to tears during one paritcular winery conversation.
Me: They're talking shop, so I'm moving in here.
Hostess's Sister: We're talking about boobs!
Me to Hostess's Sister's Boyfriend, the only male in the room: Well, you wandered into the right conversation!
Him (looking frightened): Uh...yeah...I'm just staying here because it's gotten cold outside.
Sister: Didn't you bring your jacket?
Him: Yes! I did!
and that man ran out of the room faster than you could say "breastmilk.
Because that's what the conversation was actually about. Breastmilk. How to pump it. When to pump it. When to STOP breastfeeding.
The conversation quickly turned into another, less frightening topic, WG came inside and slide his arm around my waist, "Ready to go?"
And the pregnant woman said with excitement, "Okay, you guys HAVE to come the next time they have a party. Or just get together with them and make sure they invite us. You are awesome."
We got back in the car, I relaxed against the passenger seat and thought happy thoughts about having successfully met more of WG's friends and sent myself happy thoughts about meeting the ones that really count at Thanksgiving.
But I really want that house.