Dinner parties

I have been to some very nice dinner parties before, thrown by very good hosts who were very kind to invite me. But one thing I have learned about myself is that, to me, most dinner parties–classic dinner parties, not informal dinners–are like job interviews with tooth debris.

There are a number of reasons I don’t like dinner parties. One, eating dinner is a sacred activity to be enjoyed under only the most comfortable circumstances. I work all day for my dinner. I want it to taste good and I want to eat it without having to talk when I’d like to be swallowing.

Eating with people can be great. Just the other day I had a great communal dinner, with strangers, even. But they seemed easy going. The litmus test for whether you can eat dinner with someone is whether you feel like they’d hate you for talking with your mouth full. Not that you should do that, but if you keep talking while you eat, it’s bound to happen at some point.

Communal eating doesn’t need to be like that scene from Hook, but I think it should look kind of like this.

You should feel free to have hair like Richard Thompson’s.

The second reason I don’t like dinner parties is that they make me feel bad. Hosts have to clean their apartments, buy groceries, and slave over a hot stove. They have to worry about whether everyone actually likes the food or if they’re just saying that. I couldn’t enjoy dinner under those circumstances.

Maybe hosts are just very empathetic people who enjoy seeing others enjoy themselves. In that case, hosts should never invite me, because I am empathetic, too, and it makes me uncomfortable to know how much effort they put into the whole shebang. Also, dinner parties involve complicated rules of etiquette that I would rather not worry about. Not because I think they’re stupid, necessarily, but because I do not want to be rude by accident. I would rather be a civilian.

The third reason I don’t like dinner parties is that I don’t understand the point. What are dinner parties for? Not sustenance. Conversation, maybe, but I feel like just sitting around would be more conducive to conversation. I will eat before I come.

I think people see the dinner party as a good in itself, rather than a means to a dinner. They feel good about having made a dinner party happen. To me, the dinner party feels like something you’re supposed to do because you’re an adult now. I find that very depressing.

Probably it’s my age. Maybe to enjoy a dinner party, you have to be at the age where you like the idea of family time. Because dinner parties are always haunted by the ghosts of family dinners. And all I remember about family dinners is missing Ninja Turtles.

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