Martha Stewart, meet Cruella De Ville

on Monday, March 2, 2009

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I say it’s paved with at-home dinner parties… specifically MY HOME dinner parties.

I do it almost weekly. I speak with a friend(s) or a family member(s) and I enjoy the conversation so much that I follow it up with a heartfelt and slightly delusional, “Why don’t you all come to dinner this weekend? What date works best for you?” If he’s around, I always glance at my husband and see the glazed over deer-in-the-headlights look that always overtakes his face. I’m always surprised by it. He always enjoys these effortless social experiences. If he’s not around, I always call immediately and make sure he hadn’t planned a jet-set getaway to Paris for us… I always sincerely ask him, “Does that work for you, Sweetheart?” and he always fumbles and mumbles his reply. “Sure, Honey….if…um…it works for you.”. I always feel really good about the whole thing as I’m inviting. Ahhh, I say to myself…this is going to be fun! Tra la la! Then the real joy of the planning begins. Hmmm…where should we eat…inside…outside….should we add twinkly lights outside….hmmmm..what should I make….cheese fondue and filet mignon….pasta and a roast…ohhh…that dessert I saw in that magazine…yes….it must be that dessert…..what music should I play….ahhh…the MAGIC is in the details! I always picture my home, not as small and cramped, but as warm and cozy. I never picture our backyard as ravaged by the war between beast (my Labrador) and man (my 4 year old and 2 year old) but as a charming oasis of peace in a hectic world.

OK, just so you have the timeline correct….let’s say…Monday, the invitation is made…the die is cast, as they say, and Saturday night is our quiet little event. Let’s be clear….the amount of time in between the invitation and the hosting is really not what’s important here…whether I have a week, a month or 6 months to always ends the same. Here’s what happens in between:

Monday: Casually invite friend, family member to our home. Happiness and anticipation abounds.

Tuesday: I start thinking of what we should make for dinner and where we will actually sit down to eat. Somehow, doctor appointments, school and other social engagements start filling in every afternoon and evening leading up to our dinner. I start to worry. I push the worry aside and continue on.

Wednesday: I get a real clear look at my house and it needs a thorough cleaning and/or demolition.

Thursday: I plan when I’m going to go to the store on Friday and start mentally making a list. I don’t need to actually write anything down. My mind is a steal trap. Beyond that, I start saying that I need to clean the house. I say this to everyone who is within hearing distance and I even call a few people.

Friday: I start feeling pressure. I haven’t cleaned the house. I haven’t gone grocery shopping. I am working a full day and have a play date scheduled for the kids as well as a social engagement I can’t get out of that night. I start wondering how I’m going to get everything done. I mention this to my husband and he soothingly tells me not to worry, that we should go out , eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow will take care of itself. He gives me a pep talk on how we are a team and that he will help me clean whatever I want later on that night. Around 9:30 I’m still complaining that things aren’t cleaned. My husband tells me to relax and that tomorrow morning will bring fresh energy and a clearer picture of what needs to be done. I’m consoled and I sit down to watch a movie with my husband. Isn’t he great?

Saturday Morning: “This is a mistake!” I scream. “Why do I do this?”, I wail. “What business do I have hosting 10 people in a house the size of a mouse trap?!” This is all said as I’m clearing the kitchen counters of all of the clutter that has accumulated from my previous dinner party. I start throwing out orders and doing what I do best. DELIGATE. Husband – grocery store run. “Please bring the kids with you!”, I beg. I have already forgotten the simple elegant meal I had planned and suddenly 13 course elaborate meals seem more appropriate. It takes a bit of time for my husband to talk me off the ledge and to talk me into making one of his favorite dishes. Done. My mother, God love her, quietly melts into the background dusting everything in sight and cleaning the guest bathroom.

Saturday Afternoon: “Why did we buy such a small house?”, “Who leaves all this stuff around?!?!” I’ve now managed to clear everything from the dining area, living room and kitchen area and pile it precariously in my office. Quickly, I close the door and pray that no one walks into the room accidentally. I next cordon off almost half of the rest of the house to walk through traffic. If people feel they need to use the other bathroom, they will have to exercise their control muscles, because there is no way I’m going to allow it. Husband returns with the kids and groceries and I begin to put together this incredible meal while juggling tasks and setting the table, putting fresh flowers through the house and idling threatening my 4 year old and 2 year old against putting any toys on the floor. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that kids actually play here. Throughout this whole experience I make my kids cry at least once through my hysteria, my mom tremble with annoyance at least twice and I break down crying at the very least three times. Usually about 10 minutes before people arrive I have a
Sophie’s choice experience deciding whether I’m going to put finishing touches on the meal or whether I’m going to shower.

Saturday Evening: The guests arrive, my hair is partially damp and my blood pressure is causing a little vein on the side of my head to start throbbing. I start passing out beverages, my great husband perfectly hosts and we begin the evening…..and halfway through the meal…. I relax. And a beautiful thing happens. I remember why I do this so often. It’s fun! Setting the stage for a wonderful meal and conversation with friends and family IS fun…and NEXT TIME, I promise myself, I will get myself together sooner and not leave things for the last minute!

Sunday Morning: I get a call from friends that I haven’t seen in a few weeks. We talk about how great things are when we get together and I casually mention that we should get together for a meal. “What are you guys doing next weekend?”


Carebear said...

Funny, funny post - especially Wednesday and Thurday! Cracked me up. I feel this same way, but unlike you, I've learned to stop throwing out the invitations! But please, keep it up. It makes good blog fodder. Thanks for the follow. I'm returning the favor because I like your sense of humor!

Sally's World said...

Excellent post, sooo funny, you have an amazing sense of humour and capture the 'essence' of dinner parties!!! LOL!

Joelle said...

Stopping by from SITS to say hi and to lament over the Bachelor! GRRR - I don't think I can watch it ever again.... man oh man.

San said...

Hahahaha!!! What an awesomely funny post! Makes me wish I live near you! Haha! :)

KC Mom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog this the bum crack o dawn!
Dontcha wish, just once when you call your husband, he's got that trip planned for Paris?

michelle said...

oh man I can not stop funny and sadly so familiar.......this is me to a "t".....our poor

m :)

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

Hey, thanks kids, thank you for the comments, I feel like a viable member of the blogging community now! Wanna come over for dinner?


Joelle - I have a Bachelor post coming...or maybe I just won't waste anymore of any of our time. You know it's a small world when 3 idiots are able to find each other so easily.

Sarah said...

Funny, funny post. You brave woman!

Michelle said...

LOL....that was great!

I rarely entertain because I find it so intimidating. But when I do I am always glad I did and wonder why I don't do it more often.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I always enjoy meeting new bloggers!

jori-o said...

Oh my gosh--um, are we TWINS separated at BIRTH??!? That was hysterical--and far too accurate as far as my own experiences go. Great post!!

angie said...

You crack me up. What lucky friends you have! :)

Cheryl said...

You are SO funny! I love reading your blogs! I don't do dinners for family or friends for exactly this reason...LOL....I know I'd stress too much over it and not be able to enjoy myself...but after reading your blog, I'm thinking "maybe I CAN do it" :o)

Elaine at Lipstickdaily said...

Love it . . . OMG I've been there sooo many times! And the after dinner . . . wow another fun success . . . is just enough to make me go through the whole insanity again!

Pearl said...

This post was a real crack up! And can I steal your formatting creativity???

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

Thank you Ladies! Guess what...I held back...and we aren't having any guests over for dinner this weekend! Woo Hoo! - However...we are going out to dinner with a group of cousins - ahhhh...the pressure is off!

Cheryl! - I've been trying to leave a comment on your blog - but the comments don't seem to be working! Fix that, Lady - you are missing a ton of compliments!!

Pearl - Steal away, Sister! Bold is a matter of style :)

Sally's World said...

thanks again for your lovely words, if you e-mail me your address i'd be honoured to send you a book. e-mail address is on my profile!

take care

sal xxx

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Oh my gosh! Too funny! I loved this!

Thanks for visiting my site last week when my blog was featured on SITS! (I'm still catching up with everyone - whew!)

Anonymous said...

Visiting from SITS.

As I was reading this I was shaking so hard from laughing, tears pouring down my cheeks & nodding my head enthusiastically. That is SO ME. Gluttons for punishment, are we not?

Tulsi said...

I never invite anyone other than my daughter and he husband to dinner because I end up worrying so much. Maybe I should.

Adlibby said...

OMG! Me too! It always seems like a good idea at the time... but I get so stressed out and completely lose my sense of humor and it takes over my whole weekend! But... I'd have YOU over for dinner in a heartbeat! ;)

Housewife Savant said...

I came over from SITS this morning and I'm glad I did.
I've read several posts.
I even liked your/his meme, which is saying something, b/c I'm allergic to memes and usually break out in boredom while reading.

This post is terrific.
I have a Very Similar "Hostess Style".
I KNEW it would end with a Good Time Had By All, but yea; the prep can be stressful.