Saturday, October 28, 2006

From July 04. You know, I really thought I would only post a half dozen of my old blog entries, but here I am at 8 and we're only up to the middle of 2004. I really have left out dozens of them, promise. It could be much worse.

So here is my domestic goddess (NOT) post. I don't like to cook. I like good food, and I don't mind cooking, but I don't enjoy it. I don't do it for fun and relaxation. And if you can point out to me a shortcut that tastes good, I'm happy to use it. I don't see the point in making bechamel sauce from scratch for lasagna, lasagna can taste really good with ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese, for that matter). Come to think of it, I'm just fine with Stouffer's. I'm just not a natural cook.

But I do understand that somebody has to fix the food when a bunch of people get together, and I'm happy to help out when I know what is needed. So if we're invited to a dinner and I'm supposed to bring a salad, I bring a salad. It won't be fancy, but it gets eaten. This worked fine for the first 40 years of my life. But recently things have started to change. I've had the feeling when I show up with my dish that I didn't do it quite right. Or that I haven't measured up somehow. I wasn't really sure what it was, and I'm not good enough at social interactions to figure it out. I just knew I wasn't doing it right.

A couple of weeks ago, right after we got back from vacation, some friends of mine put on a going away party for another family that was moving. Since we had just returned from being gone for two weeks, they just told us to bring some wine, which we did. These three women who were putting on the party absolutely outdid themselves. We arrived at the park (it was a barbecue at a public park) and they had baskets and bags and boxes of food. The three of them kept pulling out more stuff. "Well, I thought we might need this." "Oh, I found this new recipe." It was very friendly one-upmanship. And suddenly I GOT it. They LOVE doing this. They love putting together a totally over-the-top party, with way too much food and all these nice little touches that really are fun and great but aren't necessary. If I had been in charge, I would have tried to figure out the simplest way we could have fed 30 people with the least amount of work-- because I don't WANT to spend two days planning and cooking and shopping. but they DO. They love it. They were having a ball.

And it was a great party. There was WAY too much food, and everybody got to take some of it home and didn't have to cook dinner the next night. So it was great. But I felt, as I often do, that I am from another planet. The weird alien down the street that just never gets things quite right, you know? I'd so much rather be reading or learning something new or -- heck even cleaning out a closet than spend two days planning a party. But my party would have been totally lame compared to the one we got to go to.

So???? What to do? I love these people, and they seem willing to put up with me even if I only show up with my relish tray. But it becomes a problem over time. Trust me. I'm just figuring this out, but I think it is the key to why I haven't been getting along too well with one particular friend who is an unbelievable cook. I just haven't been aware of all the undercurrents of what was going on. She'd tell me to bring a salad and I'd bring a salad. I didn't realize that also meant I should just whip up a little appetizer and here's a bottle of wine I thought we might try and look, I found these really cute napkins on sale.... and show up with a whole armload of stuff.

And yet watching these friends of mine (and they really are friends, they are great ladies and I'm SO glad I get invited to their parties) I realized that somehow now that we're in our 40's, the stakes have been raised and nobody wants to get a phone call at 5:00, "Hey, why don't you come over for dinner and we'll order pizza?"-- which worked just fine when we were in our 20's in grad school.

Oh, I really miss that.

But if I did all that cooking, how could I find the time to write these scintillating posts?? you see my dilemma. HA. It's not really a dilemma because I don't LIKE to cook so I'm not gonna do it. The dilemma is whether or not I can continue to hang out with all my more sophisticated friends, I guess. Still thinking about this one.

Aunt BeaN

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