So…parties. They make me nervous.
I don’t feel like I’m very good at anything that parties require of folks. Like getting off the couch and changing out of sweatpants and mingling and staying up late. There was a time in my life when I fancied myself an expert at all of these things. But that was when I was comfortable with a few dozen helpful drinks before the party and an occasional arrest afterwards. Now, it’s different. My standards for myself are ever so slightly higher. Now I have no armor, no help, nothing to take the edge off and to make myself, or others, more charming. And so partying is harder. And honestly, quite scary.
My neighborhood friends had a party last weekend. Not a terrifying dress up , get a sitter, evening kind of party, but the potluck, bring the kids, you’ll be home by bedtime kind of party. Which is better for me. Except, of course, for the pot luck part. When my friend called to invite us she said “Just bring a side.” I know that’s easy for some people. I can tell because they add the “just.” But my “sides” are frozen broccoli and Lipton bagged rice, neither of which travel or present well.
I have prepared the same Lipton bagged rice every evening for the past 7 years.And every night, I still get nervous and read the directions carefully. I think there are three directions. Something like – add water and rice and boil and then stir. But I still prop that bag up, demand silence from the children, follow along with my finger, and concentrate. Because in the kitchen you must never let your guard down, people. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.
Anyway, I was pretty sure frozen broccoli or bagged rice wasn’t the way to go, so I brought another trusted side. Cheetos.The BAKED KIND, friends, because I care about the health of the children. Although Cheetos are already bagged, I put them in another bag, so I could smuggle them into the party without anyone seeing what I brought. I have this system down to a science. So when we arrived, I waved my hellos, scurried inside, and slipped my Cheetos next to all the lovely casseroles that appeared to have one million ingredients each. DO PEOPLE SERVE CASSEROLES AT HOME AS SIDES? Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Then I went outside and played with my favorite group of ladies and kids in the world.
All was well and lovely until it was time to eat. Our hostess, Karen, whom I suspect my parents secretly pay to help keep my family running smoothly, called us all in to eat. The kids ran ahead and the parents followed, and we all stood around the table holding our plates and admiring the beautiful spread.And one of the kids said “I want some mac and cheese!”I did too. It was homemade and looked like a mound of love. And then another kid said “My mommy made the mac and cheese!” And I thought, Oh crap. I know where this is going.
So of course, another kid said “My mommy made the pasta salad.” And then another chimed in with, “My mommy made the chocolate chip cookies!” I stared at Chase, willing him to catch my eye so I could send him my “Don’t. Say. A. Word.” signal, which he knows quite well.
But ….no such pot luck.
He looked up, of course, and announced… equal parts loud and proud:
“MY MOMMY MADE THE CHEETOS!”
I am seriously considering calling the local high school this week and asking if I can audit their Home Economics class.