Note: This column appears in the 1/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/27 issue of the Peoria Times.
My wife and I don’t often host parties. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s just … we’re not exactly the laid-back type of hosts who can graciously serve food and entertain while also fielding questions like, “Where is your plunger?” without freaking out.
It’s not so much that we obsess over cleanliness, although that does play a small role in our anxiety, especially when kids are involved. Whenever kids who are not ours are in our house, my mouth says things like, “Hey, kids, let’s play, ha, ha, fun times!” but my brain is thinking, “Don’t touch that, put that down, get off of there, what time do you go to bed anyway, it’s almost six!”
More so than that, however, is a fear that people will not have fun due to some flaw in our ability to host. I think it all stems from an instance back east when we had a bunch of people over to watch a playoff football game, and literally more than half the people there fell asleep. Par-tay! Granted, we had the fireplace going and a very comfortable couch, but geez. Fell asleep! We vowed that night to either never have people over again or be so darn entertaining that someone (me) would leave in handcuffs before a guest dozed off.
Adding to our self-consciousness is the fact that our family and close friends are extraordinary hosts. My in-laws have approximately 80 people in their home for holiday dinners, and they have to cook for people who can’t eat gluten, won’t eat fish, or refuse to eat meat, and they don’t judge even though they are Italian and it’s a mortal sin to not eat anything and everything all the time. The pile of resulting dirty dishes can make lesser hosts cringe, but my mother-in-law has the dishwasher filled in 10 minutes flat. I swear, she can squeeze every dish she owns into one cycle. One time I tried to help her out and I got a bowl and three forks in there and then shamefully cried, “I can’t fit anymore!” at which point she pushed me out the way and demanded I go eat more.
We cannot, however, play guest all the time, so, as a direct result of the guilt of reciprocation amongst loved ones, we decided to host a party last weekend for visiting family and a few friends. Because we lack the spontaneity to invite people over on a whim, we started planning this in October, which inadvertently added an unnecessary amount of hype. Everyone was like, “Can’t wait for the party!” and I was like, “Definitely! But don’t worry if you can’t make it!”
I set up a ball pit outside for the kids that I hoped would be destroyed because I did not want to store it in the garage anymore. And let me just say, the kids did not disappoint. There was a near-serious ball pit-related injury that required me to dismantle it an hour into the party, and when I went outside to do just that, I was barraged with an onslaught of ball pit balls to my head and back.
For the adults I had purchased cigars to be enjoyed by the fire pit. They were not enjoyed, and were described by one friend as tasting like “dog turds.”
Other than these slight hiccups, everything went well, mostly because my in-laws and my wife’s cousin did all the cooking. No one fell asleep, except the kids, which was awesome. My wife and I stayed up until the early morning cleaning up, and then shared a coffee by the dwindling fire, where we agreed that everything went fairly well and, who knows—maybe we’ll do this again in five years or so.