“Permit me to introduce you to our host,” my coworker, Clyde, said. “Andrew, I’d like you to meet Mr. Archibald Benedict. Archie hosts this party every year around this time to celebrate the arrival of the summer solstice.”
I put out my right hand to shake hands with Mr. Benedict, but he did not offer me his hand in return. “Do you know what the summer solstice is, boy?” Mr. Benedict said to me, which caught me a little off guard because he isn’t that much older than me.
“Yes, I do,” I said. “The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky and it is the day with the longest period of daylight. Some suggest that it marks the kickoff of the summer season, but I think most people think of Memorial Day as the real start of summer.”
Mr. Benedict looked at me for a moment and then abruptly turned around and walked away. I gave Clyde a questioning look. “Did I say something wrong?” I asked.
“No,” Clyde said, “but you’re a first time visitor and he can be a little standoffish to people he doesn’t know well.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It seems like there’s something more to it than that, Clyde.”
“Well,” Clyde said, “there’s a rumor that his parents met at a summer solstice party at Stonehenge and that he was conceived that night. But his mother died giving birth to him nine months later.”
“That’s interesting but it still doesn’t explain his behavior towards me earlier tonight,” I said. “What am I missing?”
“Again, it’s just rumor,” Clyde responded. “You see, Archie had always wanted to go to Stonehenge for the summer solstice as a way to try to make a cosmic connection with the mother he never knew. But his father forbid him from ever going there because he blamed Archie for his mother’s death.”
“That’s some heavy shit to lay on a kid,” I said.
“And, of course, Archie never wants to celebrate his actual birthday because of how guilty he feels about her dying while giving birth to him. So he always throws these parties at his home to celebrate the anniversary of his conception. Unfortunately, he’s never in a particularly jovial mood at these events. So don’t take it personally, okay?”
Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Saturday Mix, where we are supposed to two pairs of opposing words in our posts. The words are (1) “permit” and “forbid,” and (2) “visitor” and “host.”