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Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Entertaining

Let's just be clear about something right up front:

Martha Stewart doesn't live here.

If she did, she'd probably be either handcuffed to a pipe in the basement lavatory, or her severed head would be the centerpiece on our dining room table.


In our house for a little less than a year, my dear, sweet wife and I are newly minted entertainers. Actually, we're more like probationary entertainers. If entertaining were more heavily regulated, as it should be, there would be a Field Training Officer stationed in our kitchen to closely supervise us on those dubious and exciting and rare Saturday nights when we decide to get a little frisky and admit a non-blood relative into our abode for a little chinwag and some home-made grubbage.

Now, at the risk of offending some "group" other other, my wife and I are social retards. Give us a Honda Fit and a six-hour ride to Rhode Island, or a sofa and two cups of tea and an episode of "Intervention" and we know just what to do-- very, very well. Throw a third or, God forbid, fourth person into the interior walls of our house, and our brains simultaneously catch fire.

Preparation for a guest is never fun, but I'm sure it helps to have several Dominican servants, a Roomba, or that mechanized bitch with the feather-duster from "The Jetsons " who, I think, would be the perfect combination of both. In the Apron home, it's just the missus and I, and our various, colorful mental profundities. And, at times, a dry Swiffer cloth.

The prospect of having anyone enter our home instantly turns me into a raving maniac. The thought of people who have the ability to observe, perceive, smell, judge, and then return to other people with similar capabilities and then report their and observations findings turns my stomach into eight-month-old ricotta cheese. I am able to see the disorder, clutter, and chaos that comes from activities of daily life engaged in by two busy, creative, harried, well-meaning though absent-minded people, but when I know someone is coming to our home, every item that lies in disarray suddenly has a bawling four-year-old child standing on it, screaming incessantly, wailing at the top of its lungs, begging to be changed or whatever four-year-olds scream about. In essence, every clump of dog hair, every coat carelessly thrown on the back of every dining room chair, every out-of-date Jo-Ann circular on the coffee table is instantly, suddenly, and dramatically calling out to me, loudly, to be dealt with immediately.

This is not pleasant for my wife.

I rush around like a wild animal, scooping up fur-coated dog toys, dragging my shoe-covered foot against the entire length of the living room rug to pick up dog hair (why vacuum when this is so much more... athletic?), I have three coats, three hoodies, one jacket, two hats and one scarf in my hands as I stumble upstairs and downstairs like a fucking lunatic. My wife, meanwhile, is in the kitchen, calmly wiping down the countertops, methodically making lists of everything we need from the supermarket, and trying her best not to get run over by the coat-covered freight train that is careening throughout the house.

Because I am obsessed with time, I am also constantly preoccupied that the concentration camp-style cleaning operations, the food shopping and, most importantly, the meal preparation will not be completed on time. Insecure, panicked and sweating out my ass, I pepper my wife with maddening questions and unhelpful comments.

"How much time does the lasagna have to cook for?"

"Shouldn't we have set the table already?"

"I wish this didn't have to cook for so long."

"What time is it?"

"Let's just scrap the bread."

"What time is it?"

"What if she gets here and it's not done?"

"These zucchini aren't going to be done in ten minutes."

"Why don't we have a bigger saucepan?"

"What time is it?"

That I have not yet been stabbed in the neck with a salad tong is a fucking miracle.

Of course, our guest, who was supposed to be at our house at 5:00pm, called at 4:54pm to report that she was just leaving her apartment, a mere 20 minutes away.

"Oh, so you mean you're going to be late?" I asked her. She laughed.

I'm glad people know me so well.

Entertaining is supposed to be entertaining, I think, but not for the people who are doing it. Once the company gets there, I'm usually more relaxed than I am before they arrive. I'm able to let down my guard, I can be funny and self-deprecating and spill liquids on my trousers and make awkward sexual comments or absurd cultural references that nobody else understands. This is what people expect out of a dinner with me, so they're not usually surprised, or disappointed. When my wife is involved, they know to also expect much cuteness, laughter, and delectable desserts. Tonight was chocolate-covered pecan bars, still warm and soft.

Thank God she's here. Because, when I get really nuts before the guests arrive, she's always there to soothe me, reassure me, give me some task to do that's nearly impossible to ruin, or shove a chocolate chip into my mouth to shut me the fuck up.


  1. I guess someone just "dropping in" would send you into a slight meltdown? :-)

  2. What have you got against Rosie from The Jetsons?


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