Friday, February 15, 2008

Dinner Party II

I look around my house with a new pair of eyes.

I wear the eyes that an adult dinner guest might wear. I see a cross between occupational therapy suite and a pre-school classroom. I wish that my guests would notice that the floor is clean enough to eat off but the floor is invisible due to the vast quantities of toys scattered hither and thither.

I shut my eyes and decide to tackle the fridge instead. I open my eyes again because I need to read the ‘sell by’ dates of the contents. I am amazed by the December dates. What happened in December? I remove all living things from the fridge and rehouse them in the compost bin, recycling and trash. How many of our guests have children? Is there any chance that I can get a pass?

I empty all the laundry baskets in the middle of the bedroom floor, dash downstairs and refill them with mountains of clutter. I remove all the dead house plants and drop them on the back step outside. I dither. Will it be dark when they come? Will I be able to draw the curtains and hide the mess that we refer to as the junk yard, which should be a garden? Anything to save having to clean the windows. What if they arrive early? I dash upstairs and shut the old baby gate which childless adults will never be able to fathom. I dig out un-ironed napkins and pile a stack of books on them, as I have no time or inclination to iron anything.

Perhaps I should cook something in advance? Perhaps I should buy something to cook first? Perhaps I should work out a menu before I go and buy anything, now that I have a sanitized fridge. I look at the 18 piece dinner service in the dresser, the one that my Dad bought in Singapore when he was 17 for a pittance. He bought one set for his mum and one set for his future wife. It’s over 60 years old, before the days of dishwashers. Pennies’ worth of preciousness.

I yank out the spare table top that hides behind the dresser, 10 foot tall and four foot wide. I should wait for him to come home to help. If I don’t wait, I could find myself pinned to the floor, squished like a pancake, immobile but more importantly, unable to be ready on time. The board and I surf successfully to the table. I am tempted to just give up, lie on the table, a human sacrifice.

I make desserts, syllabub, chocolate mousse and coffee ice-cream hearts, 5 of each, not to provide choice but because I don’t have 10 of anything that matches. I dither to create illusions. I put cushions on chairs to hide the stains, scratches and chips. I double check the dimmer switch on the lights. How dim is dim enough? How tall are my guests? Will they be able to see the heaps of debris on the top of every cupboard? I am losing sight of the big picture.

The big picture comes in the form of a delicious quiche Lorraine, or so I hope, since the oven has died and I’m stuck with the toaster oven. A toaster oven is a fiendish machine the size of an average microwave oven. We bought it a year ago when the big oven died on the previous occasion. ‘Real men don’t eat quiche,’ is the quote that haunts me, a quote from England, one that I hope American men haven’t heard.

I spy the freezer. Do I have the physical strength to yank it open? It’s his job to open the permanently frozen freezer, but he’s not here. If I hope to avoid killing my guests with botulism in ice-cream, then I must defeat the freezer. What does a middle aged hostess wear for such occasions? What can I wear so that I can also cook? I hide all my dental equipment under the sink. I ensure that I use enough garlic in the butter to kill any erstwhile vampires. I make a Bakewell tart just to be on the safe side as I should be mortified if they left hungry. I acknowledge the crime of two pastry dishes in one menu. Maybe I should bake a cheesecake or is that too American now that I’m actually in America? I learned in catering college about portion sizes, 3 – 5 ounces per person, but I know that this rule is not longer true.

Can I wear my new Target trousers? The ones with the funny loopy things on the hems? What if someone asks me what the funny loops things are for? I need to grow a fringe, bangs, in the next five hours to hide my wrinkles and disguise my un-plucked eyebrows. I need to squeeze in 3 hours of entertainment for six children. How much more coffee can I consume in the next five hours without buzzing?

I run out into the garden to decompress and dig. I dig for half an hour until I find what I was looking for, the knowledge that a warm welcome will do just fine, something I can manage………… even without an oven?

16 comments:

Linda said...

Frenzy - thy name is Maddy!

Can't wait to hear how this has turned out! Oh, and real men do it quiche. They just don't admit it!

The Anti-Wife said...

Take a deep breath and a huge glass of wine. You'll do just fine and if they cast any dispersions your way, they aren't worthy of your company.

kristenspina said...

Oh Maddy, I anxiously await the final chapter on this one! Good luck, and yes, wine. It helps blur the edges for everyone.

Marita said...

I'm looking forward to hearing/reading how the dinner party went.

You have my sympathy, we rarely invite people over unless they also have children.

Angela said...

I would say you should be safe if they have children. It is impossible to have a perfect house with children. Unless you have a housekeeper and a nanny and a cook.
I have none of those.
Good luck on the party

Jocelyn said...

As always, I am there with you. Thank you for being the writer that you are. I do wish He had been home to help you, as well. Dang.

Your closing here is so true: like you, I always bang about, trying to make things perfect, and once everyone arrives, all it takes is looking them squarely in the eye and asking a genuine question...then whether or not I've vacuumed is moot.

Whitenoise said...

Quiche... only with lots of ketchup... (And, yes, that little quote did make the rounds over here...) ;-)

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

These are all nice reasons to just not invite anyone over. Too much effort involved.

Kaber said...

Did you get that glass of wine yet?
Remeber, your friends are there to see you- not scrutenize youor house- and if that is what they are there for, they aren;t good friends so it doesn't matter anyway.

I hope you were ready on time. I hate being late

Joker The Lurcher said...

get them rat-arsed as quickly as possible - then they will notice neither the food nor the dust. at least that's what i do...

Karen said...

I can't wait to hear how it goes--I'm sure it will be fine. People really do want to see YOU, not check out your housekeeping/fridge/tops of cupboards.

Maddy said...

My primary plan was to have everyone pickled but this is California, if you drink more than a thimbleful of white wine, you're an alcoholic!
Cheers

jason said...

hey, here is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash......

this site ..

Robin said...

I

Robin said...

(stupid auto-fillin!)

I'm betting it was a smashing success!

lu said...

yeah, it's just like you describe--entertaining is such hard work-on all fronts