Disassembling Dinner Parties


I had a dinner party this weekend. It was a Hunger Games themed dinner party which may or may not have included a ‘€œPin the Arrow on Katniss’€™ Face’€ competition. But not all dinner parties have to be that fancy. They’€™re not as much work as you think.
At my house, inviting people over for dinner works for me on several interesting and often unexpected levels.

  1. I have to clean my house. If people are coming over, I have to make at least a token effort to tidy up. I don’€™t think people outside of my immediate family will feel comfortable kicking aside the Tonka truck in order to get to the toilet in the main floor powder room. And what is that sticky thing on the floor under the kitchen table? It’€™s been there for weeks.
  2. I get to choose the menu. This gives me a lot of flexibility. I can decide to either show off in front of my guests, or serve them crap and hope they’€™ll be grateful I worked them into our busy social schedule.
  3. I can drink without having to worry about driving or coming up with cab fare. Hello. This is important as I am always solely responsible for items #1 and #2.
  4. I can legitimately say to my husband, ‘€˜You need to get the kids out of the house all day so I can clean and cook.’€™ Then I can quickly sweep, start thawing something frozen, and have the house to myself. This allows me to start in on item #3 well in advance of the guests.
  5. I don’€™t have to leave before I want to.
  6. I seriously think the calories you consume at your own dinner party are simultaneously burned off by all the running, serving and worrying about how your children are leaving the bathroom every time they go in there. And what your husband is laughing about every time you enter the room.
  7. Next week at the bus stop, I can casually drop into the conversation a line like, ‘€˜Well at my dinner party last week’€¦’€™ The other Moms never need to know that it consisted of takeout food and a case of beer in the middle of the table. I love the words ‘€˜dinner party,’€™ don’€™t you? What’€™s better than dinner, and a party?
  8. As a woman, I am aware that whom I don’€™t invite to my dinner party is just as important as whom I do. You know what I mean. Stop pretending you don’€™t.
  9. I can use a dinner party as an excuse to get my husband to clean the entire house while I go to the grocery store. What he doesn’€™t need to know is that I bought all the groceries online and had them delivered yesterday, and am really at the Starbucks having a coffee. It’€™s called ‘€˜me time.’€™
  10. Because I’€™m hosting, I can get rid of annoying people whenever I want. Usually the sight of my husband nodding off on the couch will do it. Usually. Sometimes I resort to putting out an air mattress on the floor for him. Okay, frequently.

(Excerpted from Shut Up and Eat! Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay, Key Porter Books, 2010, Kathy Buckworth)


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