July 30, 2002
"What kind of invitation is this anyway? It tells you the location, it just doesn't say how to get there. Maybe you should stop and ask for directions..."
Steve and his wife, Joan, continued to drive around the city streets, tension building between the two of them. "I told you we should have stopped to ask directions a long time ago," Joan said, not attempting to conceal her growing frustration. "We're lost, aren't we?" It was more a declaration than a question. Steve sat next to her driving, the lines growing deeper on his forehead.
"We're not lost, I know exactly where we are," Steve retorted back. "It's where we're going that I can't figure out," he thought to himself. It was a week ago that the invitation came, the invitation to the party: THE Party. Not just any party, this was the must attend gala of all time. Anyone who is anyone would be there, (and Steve and Joan, weren't just "anyone"). They were pillars in their community. Steve, a successful and well respected businessman, and Joan, a symbol of high society. There was not a single social function or get together they would not attend, that is until now. This was the gathering to end all gatherings, and they're lost.
"We're going to be late!" Joan blurted out in exasperation. She glanced at the small clock on the dashboard and realized that being late was a moot point. They were already late; her fear was whether they would make it at all. She picked up the invitation to read it once more. "What kind of invitation is this anyway? It tells you the location; it just doesn't say how to get there. Maybe you should stop and ask for directions?" Joan looked at her husband. Steve looked as if he was in a trance, hypnotized by the road ahead. She poked him in the arm to snap him out of it and reiterated her question, which by this time was more of a plea. "Would you please stop and ask someone for directions, or at least stop and call the Host?"
Steve grumbled something under his breath. "What was that?" She asked.
"I do not need to stop and ask anyone for directions!" He barked back at her. "I know the area where the party is and I will find it!"
Joan turned back around and stared out the window. She'd had it. This wasn't the first time her husband's pride got the best of him, and she knew that there was no reasoning with him when he was like this. She resigned into herself as she noticed they were turning a corner, the same corner they had made the same wrong turn several times before. Neither Steve nor Joan spoke to each other for the remainder of their car ride, which ended with them finally pulling into a driveway, their own. The party was over, they had missed it.
On the other end of town, Jennifer looked at the invitation while she was waiting for a street light to change. She checked the location of the party, and referred to the map she had purchased. "This town can be so confusing" she thought to herself. She too was on her way to the big party. She was not from this town and decided it best to purchase a map. She figured that if she had any problems finding the house of the Host, she could just refer to her map and it would guide her there. For the most part her plan worked. If she didn't know which direction to go, she just referred to the map to get her bearings, and then would continue on. The only problem was that she kept ending up in dead ends, or on one way streets that went the opposite way she was trying to go.
As she studied the map she was became annoyed. "What is with this town?" She exclaimed to herself, hoping no one in the cars around her were noticing her abusing the steering wheel. There were a lot of streets in that town that had similar names, that was on opposite sides of town. There was a Main Street North and Main Street West, an East Oak and West Oak, and so on. With all these similar and corresponding streets, the map helped to guide her somewhat, but she still found herself taking a wrong turn and ending up on the wrong side of town. She considered asking someone for help, but she was too afraid of asking. She would have called, but she thought that it would just take more time. "I'm bad with verbal directions anyway." She justified to itself as she took another wrong turn. "This is unbelievable! I have this map; it should just lead me right to the party. What else should I need?" She rubbed her temples to try and relieve the stress headache she felt coming on. Finally she just felt too overwhelmed and decided that, although the party sounded great, it just wasn't worth all the trouble, (even though in her heart she knew it was worth the trouble.) Aggravation won over, and she folded up her wrinkled, torn, map, and drove back home, giving up.
Not too far away, a family of four was traveling together toward a mutual destination. "The party of the millennium". The family was pleased that the invitation indicated that all were welcome: parents and children. There were so many social gatherings and settings, they had noticed, that dictated that were adults only. It was refreshing to them to be able to spend this time together and attend this party as a family. They were very close, and loved each other’s company.
"Can you read me that address of the party again, honey?" The father asked his daughter, who was sitting in the back seat next to her brother. She read the invitation back to her father. He nodded at the information. Like the first man, he was aware of the area, but not sure how to find the exact location.
"Son, you're holding the map, can you play navigator for me and tell me which road I should turn on?" The son studied the map for a few moments, looking up at street signs as they came to get his bearings.
"Dad, there should be an intersection coming up ahead. I think you need to turn left there." The intersection came, and the father took his son's advice and turned left. They drove on for a while and still hadn't arrived at their destination.
The wife, who had been looking out her window, turned to her husband and asked, "Why don't you pull over for a moment, and we'll ask someone for directions."
The husband pondered the idea for a moment, about to dismiss it, but then thought that directions from someone who knows the way would probably help out, and save them some time and stress. The husband pulled over, and his wife rolled down her window. "Excuse me sir," she asked an older man standing on the sidewalk reading.
He looked up from his book ("John Prophet, and Other Classics") and asked, "What can I help you with?"
The wife said, "We are on our way to a party." She told him the location and asked, "Can you give us some directions on how to get there?"
The man smiled and said, "Yes, I know where that is." The gentleman relayed instructions to the family on how to get to their destination. The wife smiled and thanked him, and then they drove off following the directions given to them.
The family drove around the city more, still on their way. The father was trying to run through the directions given to him by the old man, but his memory had failed him. He had been distracted for a moment by a near accident, and forgot part of the directions given to him. "I didn't even see that little white truck coming. It nearly side-swiped us." The time for the party was drawing near, and the father knew his family would be quite disappointed if they missed it. All of them had been looking forward to it for some time. He looked at his son and daughter reflected in the rear view mirror. They were sitting in the back seat exchanging glum looks. He could tell that they were getting impatient, and were tired of waiting in the car.
"Are you sure this party is even worth it?" The son asked, with a tinge of apathy in his voice.
"Of course it is worth it" the mother replied. "Once we get there, this uncomfortable trip in the car will seem like nothing."
The father, sensing an air of the tension in the car, pulled into a convenience store parking lot. He looked up and saw a sign that read "Rainbow 24 hours". His wife gave him a strange look. "I think we need some specific directions on how to get to the party" The husband explained, "I'm going to call the Host so he can tell me exactly how to get there." The kids and wife nodded their approval, and the husband got out and went to make the call.
The father hung up the phone and walked back to the car. The family noticed that he was smiling, almost laughing.
"What is it? What did he tell you?" the wife inquired. Her curiosity had been piqued by her husband’s facial expression.
"Well, I phoned the Host, and explained that we were a bit lost and needed some directions on how to get to him. I told him our location and asked what would be the best way to get there." The grin on the father's face grew wider. "As it turns out, we aren't as lost as we thought we were. The Host told me that we just need to go 3 blocks north and turn right. Then we will be there." The father could see the excitement grow on his family's faces. With their renewed vigor and anticipation they journeyed the last few blocks, turned right, and just as the Host had promised, they arrived at the location of the party.
The family walked to the front door and knocked. The Host's Son answered the door. "Well hello", the Son welcomed them smiling, offering his hand. Each member shook his hand, gladdened at his wonderful reception for them. "It's wonderful that you all made it. I was expecting more. Apparently they got lost along the way. Please come in, and let me introduce you to my Father, the Host of this wonderful party." The husband smiled at his wife, then at his children. He could see the joy in their faces, as they followed the son, on their way to meet the Host. The looks on their faces confirmed to him what he had known along, that the party was, just as the invitation had promised, well worth the trip and more.