With yesterday being a holiday, and all, Otto and I decided that it might be nice to have a few folks over for a barbecue. I’m still not feeling quite top-notch, so in our early discussions of this idea I clearly remember saying, “I don’t know that I’m up for an actual PARTY. Let’s just have a FEW people over, okay?” Otto agreed. We talked about who to invite and figured we’d have about 8 guests or so, if everyone came (and surely some people would already have plans, right?).
Very good. We issued our invitations. Everyone accepted. Excellent!
And then… well, it was bound to happen. “Oh, we should invite the so-and-sos, too, don’t you think?” “Yeah, we probably should.” “Oh, what about the neighbors? They’re going to see all the cars…” “Yep, better invite them too.” “What about the neighbors on the other side?” “Good idea.”
I woke up yesterday morning with the undeniable realization that we were about to have a party.
I took some deep breaths as I walked around and surveyed the spoils of the recent party-related grocery run. Otto had graciously agreed to do the honors, and from what I could see he had pretty much purchased everything Kroger had to offer. (In fact, if you need any potato chips any time this year, please come on over.) It was time to get serious about party prep, and so of course I decided to start with the eggs.
At my direction, Otto had purchased one of those gigundo cartons of eggs so that I could make deviled eggs. I’ve only made deviled eggs once before in my life, and it was when Monkey was a baby (so a long time ago). Somehow I had gotten it into my head that having a party in the south required that I make deviled eggs. Plus, you know, we were going to do little more than slap some frozen burgers on the grill and put out seventeen different varieties of chips, so it felt like my one shot at pretending to be a good hostess.
I’d cooked the eggs the night before, and now (yesterday morning) I stood at the sink in my pajamas—before I’d eaten any breakfast, even—peeling them.
Rather, I stood there muttering, cursing and trying not to cry while they REFUSED TO PEEL.
I’d read all the tips and tricks. I had boiled those eggs with the utmost of care and plunged them into ice water as soon as their time was up. They SHOULD’ve peeled easily, and about three of them actually did. The rest gave me fits.
Chickadee had a couple of hard-boiled eggs for breakfast (ones too badly mangled for salvage). I put a couple more back in the fridge. The rest I eventually turned into deviled eggs that were SO UGLY I felt compelled to use extra bacon salt on them so that I could hawk them based on their bacony saturation if not on their good looks.
It seemed like a bad omen, my inept egg-wrangling.
Not to be deterred, I moved on to the vegetables. I chopped up veggies for a platter and a assembled plates of lettuce and tomato slices for burgers. Then I came across the bag with the corn in it and sent the kids out to the deck to shuck it for me.
Otto and I had spent more time on corn deliberation than any other piece of party preparation. Eventually we had settled on one ear per person, reasoning that we would break them in half (thus rendering a single ear two portions, sort of) and the kids probably wouldn’t eat that much anyway. I think we both thought we were cutting it close, but that that’d probably be an okay amount.
My children LOVE to shuck corn. I wish they cleaned their rooms with such enthusiasm. I point this out so that you can perhaps understand the sheer volume of corn I’d assigned to them, because in the time it took them to shuck it all (and they were NOT fooling around; every time I peeked outside at them, they were shucking away) I’d pulled out bowls for all the various chips, packed sodas into coolers, done all the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms, located all of the disposable plates and such, and mowed the back forty.
(It was a lot of corn.)
At last we were ready; and at the appointed time, people started flowing into the house. And they did not seem to understand that we had twelve flavors of potato chips and some really ugly deviled eggs with which to clog our arteries, because they all came bearing delicious foods that should come with your very own prescription for Lipitor.
There was a store-bought chocolate cake as well as (frequent commenter) Liz’s chocolate ganache cake, which I’m pretty sure is made with the souls of butterflies and a gallon of heavy cream. Tammy brought a bazillion-layer lemon meringue cake which I frankly wanted to curl up with in the corner so that we could have some meaningful one-on-one time, and she brought that cake IN ADDITION to her cheese-y, bacon-y, to-die-for potato salad. (She may have brought the potato salad because she made it for us once before I declared she was never to come to our house without it, but who knows, really.) Leandra brought a pasta salad that caused me, with every bite, to think “I should really see what’s in this,” but before I could examine it more closely I had shoveled every last bit into my gaping maw and so I still don’t know why it was so good, except that I strongly suspect it involves several things which aren’t good for me. She brought brownies, too, because we were experiencing a clear shortage of desserts.
Some of Otto’s colleagues brought a fiery homemade salsa as well as a giant dish of guacamole because they remembered that I love avocados. (When I wasn’t busy doing hostess-y things, I parked myself near the guacamole and stuck my face in whenever I thought no one was looking.)
One neighbor showed up with two huge dishes of fruit, which I’ll grant you was just about our healthiest option, but given that one of their children commenced THROWING ROCKS IN OUR POOL I am still counting them as contributing to the rise in my blood pressure.
Another neighbor brought a pan of that stuff you make with a yellow cake mix and some butter and a bar of cream cheese, and I LOVE those things (whatever they’re called) but when I finally got around to having a small piece I discovered that she’d also added pecans, because, you know, it just isn’t sinful enough with just that brick of cream cheese in it.
There were children everywhere and people I wanted to talk to all over the deck, and other than a few five-minute conversations I felt like I didn’t really get to VISIT with anyone, but I guess that’s how it is when you’re the host. I spent a lot of time arranging food on the tables and fetching condiments and apologizing for the state of the deviled eggs but adding, “BUT THEY’RE GOOD, I SWEAR! HAVE ONE, NO PRESSURE!” Also I had to do a bit of weight training before I could bring the enormous bowl of corn outside, and then hardly any of it got eaten. (Of course.) Murphy’s Law dictates that if we’d bought less, we would’ve run out, though, so it’s fine. I sent several people home with corn. And am in need of some good leftover-corn recipes.
Towards the end of the festivities, Liz and Tammy came into the kitchen looking for items on which they could test some bacon salt, and despite my offer of brownies and cake they elected to try it on some raw veggies. I don’t know if they liked it, but the last I saw of them was the two of them taking turns carefully shaking some onto some cucumber slices, so I think it was okay.
After everyone left and we cleaned up a bit, Otto and I had a quick dip in the pool (and we coaxed the kids back in with us, even though they’d been in for most of the day). Then it was showers and bedtime for the kids, and time for us to sit on the couch and recount all of the delicious, bad for us things we’d eaten. We would’ve had a little toast to our first party here in the new house, but so much fat had congealed in our veins, it was difficult to lift our arms.
This morning I got up determined to watch what I eat so as to compensate for yesterday’s debauchery. And that’s why I had a diet coke with this brownie I had for breakfast.