Billy Joel, I ain’t. Not even Tiny Tim! Or “Uptown Girl” meets Miss Vicki and hilarity ensues.

Ah, the infamous kitchen parties with which I was to become intimately familiar and soon. Like now!?

I meet Gerard over at Red’s, of course and where else?, and we go over to his house and have a beer before we head to the kitchen party and start to get serious about this. If there is ever an Olympic event for partying, the gold and silver medals go to Australians and Newfoundlanders – and not necessarily in that order.

A kitchen party is a rather organic happening. They spring up quickly, not like a flash mob though, and everyone goes. It is a most democratic event. You come, you bring food and/or drink, you talk, joke, tell outrageous stories, sing, dance maybe, and have a hell of a good time. They start sometime in the evening, there is no official start time, just as there is no official or expected finish time. They’ve been know to go to 6 or 7 in the morning! That is a lot of food, drink, socializing, etc. This will be perfect material for my book. I’ll be photographing all night!

We arrive and a drink is promptly inserted into my unsuspecting but not unwilling hand. Toasts are made. Let’s get this party started!

What I did not know, or what my trusty “guide books” failed to tell me of, is that if one is attending a kitchen party, then they have the responsibility of singing a song, telling a story or jokes, playing a musical instrument, or performing any such sort of entertainment of which they are capable – inebriated or not! Inebriated generally makes for a much more lively performance, or so it seems.

I’m not Billy Joel by a long shot. (

I don’t really sing. Not even in the shower. I don’t play an instrument unless you count the stereo. I did not know these folks well enough to tell some of the jokes I might, though I suspect they would have appreciated some of them very much. From my previous trip to Newfoundland, I had picked up some CD’s of local music and had miraculously learned a few of the songs! “Do you know ‘Rant and Roar’? ” I ask. They respond, “y’mean the ‘Ryans and the Pittman’s?’ ” “Yes! That’s it” We both launch into the song, not really performing together, style is not as important as enthusiasm here, and we finish – both with appreciation: me for getting through it; them for me not singing any longer.

I’m not even Tiny Tim, but probably closer to him. (

As the night wore on, some of the party’ers were asking if I was able to understand Gerard’s speaking. I told them yes, I was, pretty much able to. I did mention Jimmy, the suspicious drinker at Red’s, and I could understand almost nothing he said. This brought on tons of laughs as someone responded to me: “That’s OK. No one understands Jimmy!” And here I thought it was just me.

Ah, spirit… after church and now at Red’s.

Filled with the spirit from the Sunday morning church service, I now wander, in search of lunch and additional spirit, over to Red’s to see if indeed they’re open. Indeed they are.

In the previous post I mentioned someone was eyeing me while I sat having a beer at Red’s, not necessarily with bad intent, but certainly suspiciously. He was mumbling something I couldn’t hear. If not a Jethro Tull fan, maybe he was a Monty Python fan, thought I was a witch, and consequently should be burned. Could be, right?

He turns around and mumbles something to someone who turns out to be Gerard, my new best friend on Ramea. Gerard laughs and comes over to me to tell me what’s going on. He says Jimmy, the starer, is concerned about me: I’m not from there; why am I there?; what do I want? Gerard assured him I was OK, (it helps to have friends in high places!) and that he should come over and Gerard would introduce us to each other. Gerard, the quintessential Newfoundlander, was just being nice and paving the way for open communications between foreign countries.

He signals Jimmy to come over and meet the tall, handsome stranger. (That was another stranger, not me.) Gerard does the introductions while Jimmy eyes me up one side and down the other. If you notice, Jimmy does a lot of eyeing. So, “Jimmy, this is Bruce. He’s OK, he’s a friend, don’t worry. Bruce, meet Jimmy.” So it went. I said hello, Jimmy mumbled something, Gerard left to talk with some others. Jimmy mumbled some more.

Wanting to put Jimmy at ease, I did what any self-respecting traveler should do in this instance, I offered to buy him a drink. Along with the drink, it would buy me a little credibility as well. Jimmy nodded and mumbled something again. Jimmy eyes and mumbles a lot.

Jimmy sits down, eyes his beer (there he goes again), eyes me, and mumbles something about Gerard. I pick up on that and answer that yes, Gerard is a fine man, loves his mother and the Queen, has never kicked an animal, some such thing because I’m not sure what I would say would even be comprehended. I could hardly understand one tenth of the words Jimmy was saying. This was not going to be easy. Jimmy understood me quite well and downed the drink quickly. I think he wanted another… all in the spirit of foreign diplomacy, I’m sure.

Gerard has obviously been watching this clumsy, bi-lingual (?) pas de deux in which Jimmy and I are involved. In any dance, there is the one who leads and the other who follows. In this case, neither happened as neither was possible. Gerard, our new dance master, came over to help interpret. It became clear that Jimmy and I went to different dance schools and the steps were completely foreign to us both.

This went on for a while until Jimmy was satisfied I was not going to lead an invasion of the island of Ramea. Thusly pacified, he wandered off to mumble something and stare at someone else.

Gerard was laughing and grinning through much of this. It was getting on to suppertime and he asked if I had plans for the evening. I told him nothing that couldn’t be moved – oh, like I have a lot to do here among strangers. He invited me to join him later in an age old Newfoundland tradition – a kitchen party. I had read about these so I had an inkling of what went on, but only an inkling! I was to discover that these people would be strangers no more.