By Mona Malacane
It must be fall because the deadlines are approaching and the weeks are flying by (we only have seven more weeks in the semester, yall!). We could all use a little letting loose, amirite??
Almost on cue, Mike McGregor and his wife, Celeste, throw a cookout potluck shindig that brings us all together to decompress before the push to Thanksgiving break. Mike started throwing the party almost three decades ago and, although it is “sporadic,” it is always planned for this time of the year when the leaves begin to change.
Mike began the tradition because when he first came to town there were no completely inclusive parties being thrown where grad students, faculty, and children were all invited. In the beginning, the parties were themed. “We had a 50s party, a 60s party, and a 70s party. Nobody knew what an 80s party would be so I think that was about it [for the themes].” The first cookout was in 1992 and it was all Telecom: faculty, staff, spouses, grad students, friends, and children.
Because the party tradition has spanned literally decades, one of the most memorable parts for Mike is seeing all the children grow up. His own children have fond memories of the party and visiting with faculty who they have now known for many years.
Fast forward to this year’s cookout and my mouth starts watering. The main courses and salads occupied the entire kitchen table, counter, and sink area, while the desserts were located at the bar. Mike rallied everyone to eat by introducing the food with a beautiful song and we ate until the sun went down. It was a diverse spread including, stuffed dates, spicy noodles, cheese rolls, chili, brats, hamburgers, cornbread, guacamole, eggplant, buffalo dip, cheeses, hotdogs, multiple assorted salads, brownies, homemade apple crumble, cookies, wine, beer, apple cider… It was a feast and there was something for everyone.
When the sun started to fade, the bon fires were lit and marshmallows were roasted. In all, the cookout was a wonderful respite from the ramping up that we are all beginning to feel.