I am not a Party Person. I mean, I am perfectly happy to come to YOUR party, particularly if you have food. I am just not a party planner sort of person. Or a party-having sort of person. It was not something my family did, growing up, and something I’m still not entirely comfortable with.
[Digression: The easiest way to make people think you probably led an abused childhood, chained to a bare metal bedframe in the basement, is to tell them that you’ve never had a birthday party. I do not recommend this course of action while actually AT a party, because that many people staring at you with a mixture of disbelief and abject pity can make it difficult to enjoy your little plate of fine cheeses.]
Otto’s parents entertained all the time. Otto had birthday parties. Otto LOVES throwing parties, even if they occasionally involve inadvertently setting things on fire. Generally when we have a party, I tell Otto it’s “all him” and I do the bare minimum of participation in prep aside from cooking.
But tomorrow Otto is turning 40 and it seems like even I can’t quite bring myself to make him throw his own party. So I am Preparing To Party Hearty.
Of course, my problems started right with the invitation. I used an online one, because
I love trees I’m on the computer all day anyway I’m lazy I thought it would be easiest for folks to respond to. Click here for yes, click here for no. I dutifully took the guest list Otto handed me (Me: Who are all these people? Otto: They’re my friends. I have a lot of them. Me: You’re so weird.) and typed in all the addresses and sent the invitations out. We invited about fifty people.
And received… three responses in the first week. Huh. It turns out that RSVPing is something of a lost art, even with an invitation that only requires a click. And that’s fine and all, but I am not a very good party planner under the best of circumstances, and while I’m sure it brought Otto scads of untold joy to listen to me ramble on about how COOKING FOR FIVE PEOPLE IS REALLY VERY DIFFERENT THAN COOKING FOR FIFTY, I found this… a wee bit stressful.
[Aside: Originally I thought I’d keep things simple and just have the party catered. I don’t normally spend that sort of money but my beloved husband only turns 40 once! I consulted some caterers and discovered that not only don’t I “normally spend that sort of money,” it was more like I don’t “normally spend that sort of money unless I’m buying a car.” Ahem.]
[Another aside: Did you know I’m a wee tiny bit of a control freak? I know, you are SHOCKED! Here, allow me to share a funny joke with you now that we are talking about that.
Me: Knock knock!
You: Who’s there?
Me: Control freak! NOW YOU SAY “Control freak who?”!
The solution, of course, was twofold: First, to plan only on “1970s cocktail party food” to keep it relatively easy (not to mention, cloyingly thematic and meaningful, or something), and second, to try to shame people into responding. Well, at least the food part is kind of fun.
Basically, if you can make it in a crock pot and slap it on a cracker OR spear it with a frilly toothpick, we’ll be having it to eat. I have purchase ONE THOUSAND frilly toothpicks and borrowed several additional crock pots and even have a dear friend’s crystal punch bowl on hand, all the better to fill with 7-Up, Hawaiian Punch, and a bundt pan ring of sherbet, my dear. (Jello shots of insulin will be right next to the punch bowl, don’t worry!)
To be doing this on top of everything else that’s going on feels a little bit ridiculous, honestly, but it’s turning out to be a magnificent distraction. I mean, how often do you get to spend an evening debating the relative merits of the Velveeta-Rotel type dip vs. a traditional spinach artichoke? Or talking about meatballs and cocktail weenies until your resident vegetarian starts pretending to vomit onto her dinner plate? And do you have ANY IDEA how many different times and ways I can work I HAVE ONE THOUSAND FRILLY TOOTHPICKS AND I AM NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM into the conversation? (Answer: More than anyone else is finding even slightly amusing, at this point.) (But it cracks me up every time. ONE THOUSAND FRILLY TOOTHPICKS! I WIN AT CELLOPHANE!)
The truth is that lately, as I hang on by my fingernails, I don’t feel like much of a wife. Otto gets the last of my energy precisely because he is so awesome and willing to step aside for the kids, my work, and whatever else needs me. He made ONE specific food request—blondies; but more specifically, his grandmother’s blondies—and last night I had slated for baking and discovered we had no walnuts, so I made them with almonds, instead, and I realized that was kind of an apt metaphor for us, these days. He asks for very little, and half the time what I end up giving him is… well, maybe it’s close. An acceptable substitute, even, but not what he asked for. Not really what he deserves.
So today I’m headed to the grocery store to buy Party Food, and my shopping list contains such atrocities as grape jelly and onion soup mix and more bricks of cream cheese than I feel comfortable admitting, and I am also going to buy the biggest damn bag of walnuts they have.
Tomorrow, Otto, I promise to stand on my own two feet and smile and make you the right blondies and let you know just how glad I am that you’ve been around for forty years (and around in my life for over half of those). I don’t know what I would do without you.
I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t be having a party. But besides that, I mean.
Kidding! I love you!! I hope it’s your happiest birthday ever. You’re my favorite.