Oct 02 2011
Greetings, Cool Peeps:
I first met Ronald F. Hibbleton at one of my parents’ dinner parties when I was a mere teenager. All I knew about him was that he was a big oaf of a guy who was married to a childhood friend of my mother’s and that, behind his back, people called him Mr. Grant.
Granted (no pun intended), I’d rather have the name Grant than Hibbleton any day of the week, but I soon learned that he had earned that moniker by emulating the behavior of Ed Asner’s character, Lou Grant, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In a classic episode of the show, “The Dinner Party,” Mr. Grant helps himself to three servings of Mary’s Veal Prince Orloff, much to her dismay, and she’s forced to tell him to return two.
Although my mom never skimped on how much food she prepared, she herself was not ready when Ronald F. Hibbleton took twenty pieces of shrimp scampi from her serving plate as well as three quarters of the accompanying rice pilaf. A week later, at a mutual friend’s cookout, he took four giant crab cakes from his host’s plate, smothering them with tartar sauce and ketchup (yes, ketchup!) before anyone could say, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?”
I had my own disaster the time I prepared a gourmet meal for my ex-boyfriend and two other couples. My friend told me that his girlfriend insisted on bringing the dessert. Peeps, I was freakin’ horrified when I was handed a cheap chocolate cream pie from the supermarket with a big orange sticker on it reading, REDUCED! All of the guests saw the offending offering come in, and eyes rolled and looks were exchanged as I put the pie in the fridge—instead of square in the giver’s face, where it belonged. Luckily, I had some raspberry sorbet and petit fours another friend had brought, so I put everything out on the table and let my guests choose. The person who brought the REDUCED pie increased her waistline by eating half of it, and the rest of us finished up the meal in style.
Not only is it tough having dinner guests, but being a dinner guest has its moments, too.
About a year ago, a former coworker invited me to dinner and I said I would bring the wine. I selected a stellar California Cabernet and presented it to my host. No sooner had I handed her the bottle than her husband put it in their wine rack, then proceeded to open a very cheap table wine and serve it to me. It was a horrid, you know, the kind with lots of sugar that gives you a massive headache. I had about two sips and put it down. When asked why I wasn’t drinking, I said that I’d had a slight headache all day and thought it best to lay off the wine. Peeps, I couldn’t believe it when my host turned to her husband and said, “Joe, let’s open the wine that Molly brought.” As soon as they thought I wasn’t drinking it, they were all for opening it.
I was tweaked. I had a few crackers, and about five minutes later, I told him my headache was gone, and I would have some of the wine as well. They exchanged glances and reluctantly poured me the wine I had brought. Needless to say, after a terrible (but short) evening, I never saw them again.
A few years ago, my ex and I were invited to dinner with some old friends. We looked forward to an interesting evening of conversation, laughs, and catching up. We walked in the door, only to see Jeopardy showing on their large flat-screen TV. They both sat there staring at the TV, answering questions, as if we weren’t even there. I thought that maybe they just wanted to finish their show, but when Wheel of Fortune came on next, Pat Sajak and Vanna White had their full attention. We certainly didn’t. At the conclusion of Wheel, we were called to dinner. I don’t even remember the sitcoms that played through our meal, but it was a horrible evening.
Don’t we invite people over because we want to socialize with them? If you’re having a Super Bowl or World Series party, or watching a local contestant compete on American Idol, I can understand the TV. But I just do not get why people not only turn on their TVs when they have company, but why people want to watch it in restaurants when they go out to dinner.
I’m going to stop here, not because I’ve run out of things to say, but this is a blog and only a blog. Please, cool peeps, I know you’ve got great stories for me about being a dinner guest and having dinner guests. Care to share? I always love to hear from you.
See you next week.
Yours in pickiness,