How to be a great dinner guest

I’ll let you in on a little secret about me. I figure we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well by now. And by gotten to know each other I mean you’ve read the ridiculous crap I post and I know absolutely dick about you. Anywho, the secret is that I cannot do anything at all completely on my own. I need a manual for nearly everything I attempt. A damn manual. How to Win Friends and Influence People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How to NOT Eat the Entire Freaking Box of Krispy Kremes, etc. Give me step-by-step directions and maybe an Adderall and I’m off! And I’m in luck here because there is a how-to ever so diligently written about anything and everything you may want to do in your life. Whether in paperback form, an e-book or just a wikihow entry, you’re covered. And for some oddball reason you cannot find the help you are looking for, just ask your crazy neighbor who vacuums her garage at midnight.

Speaking of not being able to find what you are looking for, I’ve lately realized there are not many solid articles on how to be a good dinner guest. I mean, there’s all sorts of crap about throwing the best parties, but when it comes to how to successfully attend these parties for maximum awesome impact, the well is kind of dry. So, ever motivated to serve the public, I decided to carefully put together a little something. I’m sure I missed some stuff, so feel free to fill in the blanks. You know I love to hear from you.

First things first: don’t come empty handed. Showing up without a small token of appreciation screams ignorance and thoughtlessness. But whatever do I bring, you ask? A small animal like a pet or something: kitten, hamster, African Grey, doesn’t matter – people love animals. They love the companionship. Obviously they’re lonely – they invited YOU over for Chrissakes. Or how about a collage of Styrofoam peanuts and used needles you found on the beach that day? A gift like that says, “I recycle. I care.”

Flerpty flerpty shmerpty floo

Flerpty flerpty shmerpty floo

Make sure not to inform anyone of your dietary restrictions until the meal is served. You don’t want to put anyone out. Plus everyone will feel badly for you when you can’t eat anything because you are a gluten free vegan. Pity is awesome.

If you can eat the meal for some reason, be sure to give the host/ess some tips on how to improve the dish for next time. Maybe a little more salt? Maybe a little more thought? Dinner party hosts are constantly looking to up their game, and how can they do that with no criticism? That’s how we grow. Spitting the food out into a napkin helps to prove your point. You know they can do better.

Come up with a short routine to perform during downtime: choreograph a soft shoe or improvise a dramatic skit. While the hosts are busy preparing the meal, you will come to the rescue and entertain all the bored as hell guests. Then make sure you talk a lot about all your travels. While smoking indoors. Do you play guitar? Play guitar incessantly.

Don’t bother saying please or thank you. These people are serving you. Serving YOU. Would you say please or thank you to a waitress? I didn’t think so. Save your manners for someone who deserves it, like your surgeon or your alderman.

I hope this little tidbit sheds some light on this very important topic. And just in time for barbeque season! I am topical, after all *pats self on back*.

There is no ‘I’ in friends

Do you remember high school? Sometimes I find myself fondly reminiscing – to be young, carefree, roaming the halls and laughing with friends and oh, wait. High school fucking sucked. It was a burning, blistering, scorching hell on Earth. An obstreperous, endless, raw and throbbing social experiment. Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it certainly was not a walk in the park for an awkward introvert like me. I was lucky to have a great group of friends, but outside that safety zone it was all lava. I’ve worked very hard since then to become more outgoing; to enjoy casually meeting new people and having little problem engaging in conversation. It’s become easy for me. Especially after a drink or two I love to work the room. But there is a huge, gaping difference between making a few witty remarks over martinis and forming real friendships. And I am finding that in certain situations, like the ones I get myself into being a mom, take the drink out of my hand and I’m the same ridiculous teenager I was all those years ago. Plus some crow’s feet.

There’s a certain amount of pretending that goes on in the larval stages of a friendship, right? Or have I been doing it all wrong? I can’t necessarily reply to a casual “how are you?” with “I feel like peeling the skin off of my face and screaming at the top of my lungs for hours and hours”, now can I? That type of honesty is probably not the keystone of a successful acquaintanceship. And most days, especially at the 9am preschool drop-off, I don’t feel like doing a whole lot of pretending. I just want to be quiet. Why doesn’t anyone appreciate being quiet anymore?

I hope none of these people are lactose intolerant

I hope none of these people are lactose intolerant

As I reread this snippet it is becoming clear to me why I can’t make friends. I belong in a loony bin. But even crazy people need buddies. Not necessarily for camaraderie, but mostly to borrow things from. I really need a handheld steam cleaner for my window sills. But you know I’m not going to pay for one, no sir. This is where a wide circle of friends comes in handy. OR what if I need someone to watch my kid so I CAN scream for hours and hours on end in peace? Circle of friends. An actual circle of friends, not that crappy Minnie Driver movie. Please feel free to share your friend snagging advice. I know you have a lot of friends. And my window sills are in desperate need of a steam clean.