In the middle of a party I held a couple of weeks ago, someone was eating something I made that he thought tasted pretty good and commented that it must have taken a lot of work. I kind of shrugged, because I like cooking for people and putting on parties, but the woman sitting across from me answered immediately, “That’s why I never have parties. They’re too much work!” Then she returned to eating.
It was that comment and Wini’s witty list that pushed me to respond on behalf of hosts everywhere. So here is our rebuttal, a small sampling of the kinds of questions a convivial party planner might enjoy asking his or her invited guests:
1. I am glad you’ll be able to come, but did you really have to ask everyone we know if they have been invited too?
Don’t worry about the awkwardness you’ve caused for me the week before and the week after. All those cool receptions I’m getting are worth it when I know that your ego is secure because you are going and they aren’t.
2. Will you be bringing your small children to this adult dinner party?
I know they’ll be fine in the den with a movie, but will our beige sofa be fine after the chocolate you brought with them drools out of their mouths?
3. Do you plan on RSVPing this time?
It was such a fun surprise when you showed up last time. With your teenage son who has the appetite of a goat.
4. How may I accommodate your ___________ diet?
Listen, Ina, I’m putting on a dinner party for 2 vegetarians, a vegan, a recovering alcoholic and an escalating diabetic, a holdover Atkins low-carb meat eater, the couple who can only eat the 100 foods on their list, the Paleos (not their last name), a bachelor allergic to shellfish, and a woman with an eating disorder who doesn’t know it. Could you do a show on that? How many ways are there to prepare organic Romaine lettuce?
5. Are you going to follow me around the room again this party, pointing to each tapa and asking, “What’s that?”
Yes, my daughter made the labels for the food. Yes, she made them because she loves me and she knew you were coming. Aren’t they cute?
6. Are you really going to eat all of the shrimp/wings/cheese/whatever your limited palate desires?
Go for it, dude. I’m sure everyone else is vegan anyway. Me, too.
7. You’re leaving? We are about to eat. Oh, you’re party-hopping?
I don’t blame you. Hopefully, the company and food are better at the next party.
8. I know you have Adult ADD, but do you realize that is my mother’s Waterford crystal you are chipping in the sink during your frenetic, unasked for cleanup?
You were really upstairs? Sorry it was so dark. We didn’t have time to clean it. I hope it wasn’t too hard to move all those boxes blocking your way at the top of the stairs?
9. Will you be taking home the two remaining beers in the six pack you brought like you have every other time?
Make sure you get those in the fridge as soon as you get home. Those craft brews like a consistent temperature. Do you want to borrow a cooler?
10. You didn’t eat much, but you sure had a lot to drink. Would you like me to drive you home?
That was my chihuahua you just dropped.
A host, of course, would never ask any of these questions, because the act of welcoming people into one’s home is the high mark of civilization, a tradition as old as The Odyssey, no, even older. And we hosts always remember the Scottish Hospitality Prayer:
I met a stranger yest’re’een;
I put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place;
And, in the sacred name of the Triune,
He blessed myself and my house.
My cattle and my dear ones,
And the lark said in her song,
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise;
Often, often, often,
Goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.
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