Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 Scary Things: #6

Back to 10 Scary Things I Have Done Since My Husband Died. We're on Number 6.

6. Invited people over for dinner. 

Dan and I used to hold small dinner parties. Once, we got 12 people around our table, using the piano bench and yard chairs, but more sanely we were six, including us. This minor social event required a minimum of 12 focused hours of preparation, never mind previous evenings of perusing cookbooks and trying things out. The Day Of required a plan and execution worthy of NASA, a system we became so familiar with we barely discussed it. 

In the morning, Dan did the creative shopping while I made sure the pantry was stocked. We regrouped for a quick lunch, then he started cooking and I began cleaning. By the time the first car pulled into the driveway we might be exhausted, but we were (pretty much) Ready, down to the basenjis brushed and fed.

If you don’t cook, and for two-dozen years you’ve lived with a man who is a superb avocational cook, not only do your minimal kitchen skills atrophy, more important, solo entertaining becomes terrifying. My heart was in the right place: I wanted to invite friends to my home, sit them down, give them some food, talk with them about interesting, intelligent matters. But I came up against a wall every time, of actually doing it by myself. 

And then, a solution! The secret, I discovered, was to host a potluck dinner, and when I panicked at the last minute, to get the ham from a caterer. For a summer lunch on the screened porch, I bought an array of delicious salads from Random Harvest. Today Random Harvest is gone, but I’ve adapted. There are farmers markets galore, and the caterer expanded his offerings. 

I still barely cook—all the mess, fuss, cleanup, for something you eat, by yourself, in five minutes. I’d rather read, or play the piano. I do have friends over for dinner—I love setting the table—but I have yet to cook a meal for them. I look upon this as a relatively harmless eccentricity. 
I love to get friends together, and set the table.


  1. Lovely! And I love your dinners.

  2. Boy, do I relate to this! I totally agree -- potluck is the way to go, even when you have a partner at home.

  3. I'm not sure why entertaining is such a scary thing - must be from the days when getting married meant "being a hostess" and being judged on your skills.
    Also missed I'm sure are the post mortems about what went well and just relaxing and chatting after the last guest has left.

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