Carousing Through the Dismal Season
The leaves are dropping, exposing the bare wooden scaffolding of the trees. The rain is either a constant or an intermittent irritant. Moments of warmth are welcome rarities. Yes, the dismal season is upon us until Spring comes to our relief.
And so, we party. There’s a reason we call it the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve in rapid sequence. Why? Because the days are short, gray, and miserable and remind us of our mortality. When faced with thoughts of death what do we do? We gather up our friends and family and we eat and drink, deliberately focusing on the positives. Each beer, each glass of wassail is a middle finger to the skeletal fellow with the black cloak and sickle.
That’s what I did the other night. I had some friends over, ostensibly to celebrate the release of Thick As Thieves, but primarily to have a good time and enjoy companionship on a dreary, rainy day. It was a small gathering. It couldn’t hold a candle to some of the legendary shindigs of speculative fiction.
And, thinking about it, there ought to be more of those, more spectacular parties in fiction. What have got, really? Tolkien, natch, leads the field. Hard to top Bilbo’s 111th birthday. The protagonist of John Myers Myer’s Silverlock enjoys a fine mead-soaked throwdown at Hierot. (Boy, Silverlock is a prime example of a character rollercoasting through ups and downs, isn’t he?) The lords of Demonland in The Worm Ouroboros are on the verge of a hootenanny before events go pear shaped, so that doesn’t count. Garrett, of Glen Cook’s Garrett, P.I. novels enjoys more than his share of partying, but I’m not sure impromptu keggers in Garrett’s kitchen count as true fiestas. I doubt any of the feasts in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire count, since few, if any, of the attendees are really celebrating anything. It seems that Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser ought to make the cut, but their taproom revelry doesn’t fit either.
So what have we got? What festivals, marriage feasts, coronation parties, or other celebrations am I missing? Probably something Arthurian. It seems like half the adventures of the round table commenced when someone wandered uninvited into a feast. But then, the feast wouldn’t be narratively completed then, would it?
A puzzler. Makes me want to pour a cold one and browse through my library. Ignoring the drizzle and chill beyond my walls.