By Vicki Brown
I have a horror of being a hostess. If you have read my column lately, you know why. But the worst is yet to come, and that is the Saga for today. It’s a moment that will never be forgotten, and probably one of the biggest messes I ever got myself into. But this time, my husband was in it, too. And most of this was his fault.
We had a small house. At 1250 square feet, it was small enough to easily clean. I liked it that way. I never wanted a big house, unless maid service came with it. But oddly enough, we had a two car garage with over 650 square feet of space. Unfortunately, we had two huge vehicles that couldn’t fit in the garage together at the same time. So we mainly used it for storage.
One day, my husband called me, and gave me some horrifying news. He had been out of town for a conference with his colleagues from across the Lowcountry. These gentlemen all had jobs similar to my husband’s, and they enjoyed getting together periodically just for fun. But his news wasn’t fun at all!
“Honey, it’s our turn to host the Christmas dinner this year. I guess we will have about 20 people coming,” said my clueless spouse.
“Are you kidding me?” I screeched like a fishwife. “Where am I going to put 20 people in this tiny house? Why don’t we just have the dinner at your office; you have space in the back!”
“No, you know it’s a tradition that we all meet in a home; it’s cozy.”
“COZY!” I was yelling by this time. “IT’S CRAZY!” I wasn’t finished having a meltdown. It was October 31st. That gave me 6 weeks before the party.
I hung up, fretting, and walking through my tiny living room, trying to envision ways to squeeze 20 people in there. Finally, I stomped into the garage and stood there for a minute. I decided then and there that I was going to have the party in the garage.
I got to work that day. I pulled old paneling off the walls and cleaned out all the junk. When my husband came home, he was shocked at what I was doing, but gave in gracefully, helping me sweep the floor, paint the floor, and call a friend to hang up sheet rock. Then I called another friend to use his sprayer and paint the entire room and ceiling.
I hired someone to take the garage doors down and hang French doors. I went to Walmart and bought a giant rug. I called my mom and dad who helped me decorate the tables, and I had paid my mom to buy party food and cook it. She’s an amazing gourmet cook.
The day of the dinner party, I looked around and realized I needed furniture, so I quickly called a furniture store who promised to deliver the furniture asap. Frantically, I realized I had no Christmas tree, so I ran to the store and bought the last sad little tree and literally threw ornaments on it.
The dinner party was to begin at 6:00 p.m., and at approximately 5:45, the furniture truck arrived. I seriously think that I had an insane look in my eyes, because the delivery guys took one look at my face, dropped their heads and hastily dragged furniture off the truck and set it up post haste. Plastic was still being stripped off cushions as I noticed a car turn in our driveway. It was time.
I quickly stuffed plastic covering under the seat cushions and ran to the door to greet our guests.
I don’t think I had taken a deep breath all day.
At last everyone was there, and my mom and dad helped dish out the food and serve everyone.
The room was beautiful. I couldn’t believe I had managed to pull this off. My nerves were shot, but the table looked festive, the tree was pretty and…..
I heard choking, looked down to the end of the table, and there was my husband with a funny look on his face. What was going on?
“What is this?” my husband asked frowning.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“This thing! It’s not bread!” he said, making a face.
“No, it’s a fried goat cheese medallion for your salad,” I said with gritted teeth. My mom, the gourmet had outdone herself with the dinner, but my simply southern husband didn’t like it.
I think he knew that I was just about at the end of my hostess rope because he dropped his head and said in a quivering voice, “It’s good…it just wasn’t what I was expecting.” Oh yeah? Well, I wasn’t expecting to have to feed 20 people at a dinner party at Christmas either.
Well, after everyone went home, I decided that the evening was a success, but we were officially poor. This little dinner party had cost us a small fortune. But as I was congratulating myself on being clever in how I managed everything, I finally had time to go to the bathroom where I noticed that someone had stopped up the toilet and it was a mess.
The story of my life.