I come from a long line of social women. My maternal grandmother was regionally famous for her depression era parties, where hoards of neighbors would spend the evening dancing, singing, chatting, and eating. My mother inherited this trait and after the dream home was built, it was the site of many social gatherings. On any given night, mom would invite another couple or two for dinner and games, or the whole neighborhood for finger foods, hot cider, and an evening of scintillating conversation. My father, on the other hand, was a man who preferred solitude, just like his mother, father, and grandparents before him. Because he loved my mother, he would grit his teeth and stay by her side for an hour or two, making an attempt or two at awkward conversation. When he couldn’t tolerate it anymore, he would quietly slip away and we would find him later in his bedroom, reading a book.
Although my siblings and I were not really invited to these grown-up parties, we liked to watch from the second floor and occasionally wander through the crowd and fill our plates with the delicious offerings. I imagined that when I was an adult, I would also host fabulous parties where people would mingle all evening – laughing, talking, and playing games.
When I married my first husband (henceforth, we will just call him “The Loser”), I decided the time was right to throw my first soiree. My mother lived an hour and a half away, but she was thrilled that I was following in her social footsteps and she made a trip down to spend the morning and early afternoon with me, helping me to clean my house and sauté, baste, and bake up a plethora of party foods. After she left, I carefully arranged the canapés on various platters, strategically placed around my small home to allow for easy wandering and intermingling of the guests.
At 7:30 that night, the doorbell rang! I smoothed my hands over my new party dress, flipped on the stereo, and greeted our first guests. They worked with The Loser, so they made their way to him, loading their plates along the way and joining him on the couch. The Loser then switched off the stereo and turned on the television. As he was the consummate host, he also produced a bong and lighter since the guests had so thoughtfully brought along some premium weed. As additional guests arrived, they followed suit – filling up their plates as they joined the other potheads in the living room. The next half hour was spent toking and eating, and that was followed by another half hour of occasional burping while the gang stared in silence at the television. There was no talking, laughing, or game playing. There was just silence…except for the sound of the television.
At 9:00pm, the first arrivals stood and stated they had to get going. The exodus was so quick after that, it was as if a lion had suddenly entered a room full of gazelles. The herd scattered with various excuses, leaving behind dirty plates and cups, empty beer cans, full ashtrays, a burn hole in my second hand sofa, and a few crumbs on the canapé platters. The Loser, always the thoughtful husband, stood, hitched up his pants, and shuffled to the bedroom, leaving me to deal with the mess.
Needless to say, I was pretty crushed by the whole thing. My childhood dreams of hosting fabulous parties had gone very much awry. The whole incident was so traumatizing that I didn’t attempt another grown up party for more than twelve years. That one had a professionally sized karaoke machine, sound system, and disc jockey – and about 6 guests. Need I say more?