Welcome to My Party, Pal – by April Cushing

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column published in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin on June 21, 2013.

My youngest got the green light to graduate over Memorial Day weekend, having returned the last of her overdue library books. I got to shiver on the sidewalk for three hours hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of her as the Class of 2013 cavorted down College Street in cap and gown. Meanwhile, my sister and her husband were holed up in the warmth of their hotel room until lunchtime. Life was good. There was just one little problem.

Belle and her housemates had been threatening to throw a cocktail party for their families, and I was afraid I’d be totally tongue-tied in front of one of the parents: Bruce Willis, to be precise. Seriously, what would a humble librarian like me have to say to a superstar like him? I’m a big Bruce fan, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t want to have to talk to him.

Fortunately, I was given ample time to stress out. I mulled over some opening remarks: “Did you know that the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Mass. owns every one of your movies?”  Which isn’t technically true but I was banking on the fact that Dad probably wouldn’t be checking our DVD holdings prior to his daughter’s big day.

I considered bringing up our special bond:  “So, how did you feel when you found out you were having a fourth girl?”  Or maybe I should just break the ice by blurting out the obvious: “Bald men are so sexy.”

Sure, I could have asked Belle for some pointers, since she’s known the family for four years, but I knew better. A comparative lit major, she’s currently looking for a job in magazine writing but she’s a shoe-in for the CIA. Or the mafia.  Although they’ve been to each other’s houses, my daughter wouldn’t divulge personal information about her friend’s family under oath. Circumspect doesn’t begin to describe Belle. When I asked about getting a schedule of activities for Commencement weekend her response was “why do you need to know?”

I can direct a library patron to the print station with one hand, but schmoozing with celebrities has never been my strength. So I appealed to my colleagues, an intelligent, worldly, well-read group of professionals. They were no help at all.

Does anyone remember “Moonlighting,” the TV series with Cybill Shepherd that launched Bruce’s career back in the eighties? I didn’t, but I borrowed it from the library at a friend’s recommendation, hoping to impress him with my knowledge of his early work.  And I definitely would have watched at least the first episode if the Bruins hadn’t been in contention for the Cup.

As I was leaving the library that Friday my co-workers wished me luck. The pressure not to disappoint was daunting.

At lunch the following day, while the seniors were at Baccalaureate, I finally started to relax. There had been no more mention of house parties. I was polishing off a bleu cheese burger and a glass of sangria when my cell phone rang.

“We decided to have that cocktail party after all, but it’s really casual—just a few people,” Belle said.

“Can we bring something?” I offered. Big mistake.

“Sure!” she responded, a little too enthusiastically.

Party planning, apparently, is not a priority of this particular fivesome. But a shopping trip would distract me from the dreaded meet and greet so I agreed to pick up a couple of things. The final list included a variety of artisanal cheeses, crackers, flatbread, chips, dip, nuts, and wine—red and white. “Oh, and Michelle and her mom really want to try your Cosmos.” Check.

“What exactly do you have, honey?” I asked.

“A bottle of Chardonnay–and maybe some champagne,” she replied. “And I’m pretty sure we have cups.” (They didn’t.) Can these gals entertain or what?

As we staggered out of the store my phone rang again. “Hey Mom, how are you coming? A bunch of people are here.”

It seems the festivities had started without us; the place was mobbed. I met parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, parents of friends, and pets. Not only was Martha Stewart conspicuously absent, but Mr. W. was a no-show as well. I had dodged a bullet. And if anyone knows from bullet-dodging it’s Bruce, who by all rights should have been dead after the first “Die Hard.”

The rest of the weekend was a piece of cake. Diplomas were awarded, photos taken,   congratulations and hugs exchanged. My baby was embarking on her new life in Brooklyn and I was heading back to Norwood to face the music.

“So how did it go?” my co-workers wanted to know. “We heard he was spotted on campus.” I had to take their word for it.

While I never did get to shoot the breeze with Bruce that day, he was a frequent visitor in my home over the next few weeks. Virtually speaking, that is. I didn’t make it through “Hudson Hawk,” but “The Whole Nine Yards” was a hoot and “Hostage” had me on the edge of my seat. And to celebrate the Bruins’ anticipated victory over the Blackhawks, I’ve got “A Good Day to Die Hard” all queued up. (Which is not to be confused with “Die Another Day 007,” with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond).

You too can cozy up on your couch with these bad boys and other stars of the silver screen simply by checking out the ever-expanding collection of DVDs at your local library. It’s pure entertainment that won’t cost a penny. And best of all, you can show up in your pajamas, break out the popcorn, and not have to come up with a single clever comment all evening. As Bruce’s character John McClane quipped in “Die Hard,” “Welcome to the party, pal.”

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