I was once at a party where only four of the six invited guests showed up. Still, there were two couples who should have had a lot to chat about. However, the men decided it would be very funny to talk about how frigid their women were. Being one of the women in question, I did not find this banter amusing. Nor did the other woman.
The party was such a colossal disaster that I found myself plotting how I could leave early. Then I realized that I couldn’t leave: I was hosting the party.
I used to think of myself as the queen of successful parties.
When I was in college, I could throw one together with just one or two telephone calls. They weren’t elaborate, of course, since we were poor college students, but I had a group of interesting, intelligent friends who never failed to make witty conversation. I added some music, snacks (not much more than bowls of popcorn if money was tight), something to drink, and we were off and running.
I always made sure to invite all my neighbors at the apartment complex where I was living. They usually declined the invitation (as I had hoped) but, once invited, they were less inclined to bang on their ceilings with a broomstick if the music got too loud–and that was precisely why I invited them.
I prided myself on being able to bring together an interesting mix of people. I could work the room and introduce strangers, pointing out something that they had in common. Then I would move on and leave them to their conversation.
If I met a student that I possibly wanted to date, I would put my friends on “standby party alert,” which meant we might have a party if he accepted my invitation. Sometimes he declined and we had the party anyway because they were just fun parties.
I was convinced I had the Midas touch when it came to social events. Then I graduated and joined the adult world and discovered that I was a flop at hosting a simple party.
There used to be a running gag on the old Mary Tyler Moore television show that her character threw the worst parties ever. No matter how hard she tried, they were always a disaster.
I loved that program and as much as I admired Mary Tyler Moore, the only thing I had in common with her character was the Failed Party Gene.
When I owned a small business, I invited friends and some of the other business owners in town for a get-together at my apartment. Most of them did, incredibly, attend. However, right as things were starting to move along, one of the women came to my door without her date and with very red eyes.
“Can you tell I’ve been crying?” she announced, sending us all into commiseration mode.
Come see my new home
After I sold my condominium and bought a house, I invited my three former neighbors over for a cookout. “Can you come next Saturday at 4:00?” I asked them.
One of them e-mailed back: “How about a week from next Sunday at 3:00?” she wrote.
I’d never had a guest set the date and time for something I was hosting before, but I agreed because she and her husband had a young daughter. I wanted to make things easy for them.
In the meantime, I got food and beer and wine. I bought toys and a jar of soap bubbles for their little girl. I was pumped up for my own party!
The night before the party, the woman e-mails me back: “I’m so sorry. This is entirely my fault. I forgot that we have to pick my parents up at the airport Sunday afternoon. They are coming back from their trip to South Africa.”
Of course, I can understand that…no damn it, I can’t.
Thanksgiving dinner is always a challenge, but being an American woman, I feel I must host Thanksgiving dinner.
One year I invited six guests, and they all accepted. I made what was possibly my best Thanksgiving dinner. On the appointed day, two of them showed up. Lots of leftovers.
This past year, after several failed attempts, I decided to just stay home and cook for myself. Then a friend called and invited herself over for dinner. I suggested that we just go to the wonderful buffet at one of the hotels in town. She agreed and I made the reservations ($120, oh by the way). The plan was for her to come to stay with me for a few days.
I cleaned. I bought groceries for the weekend. I put fresh sheets on the bed.
Then the day before, I texted her to see when she would be arriving.
“I have a flat tire on my car and only the dealer is open today,” she writes back. “They want $100 more than the tire stores in town and I don’t want to spend that much money.”
There were more holes in that excuse than in the Swiss cheese I had just bought but I went along with her ruse. I suspect there was a new man in her life and she was just ditching me.
“Shall I cancel the reservations for dinner?” I texted.
“Yes,” she responded.
Not a problem, I thought. Except for the fact that I won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner, I at least have a clean house.
And then I thought: clean house, refrigerator full of food…why not throw a party?
Then I came to my senses.