Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Company" Revisited

Several years ago, I wrote an essay about my manic party preparations. I described the Extreme Home Makeover that I attempted every single time someone was invited over. I meant it to be funny, but alas it was all true. I did indeed become the Maid from Hell; I was indeed always too pooped to enjoy my company.

Some of my attitude stems from my childhood. Both Mom and Dad were pretty messy people, from the ashtrays always full of cigarette butts, to the dishes piled in the sink, to the laundry that never got put away. I grew up in this chaos, and never learned anything about keeping house. I still remember the panic I'd feel whenever the doorbell rang, as I'd frantically kick all sorts of random stuff under the sofa or into the closet on my way to answer. We never, as far as I can recall, had anyone over for dinner (if we had, they would, like us, have had to plop in front of the TV set with a plate of fish sticks.) I knew most of my friends did not live like this.  Their furniture was dusted!  Their moms were always whipping up homemade breads and soups! There was no random stuff to kick out of sight when company came!!
Wedding day with Joanie and Tom
When Steve entered my life, I'm sure it must have been a shock for him. His own parents were total neatniks (even while raising five kids).  Leona ironed the sheets! Phil catalogued all of their photos and home movies and souvenirs of every family trip! And here was Steve, about to marry a woman who wouldn't know a floor mop if she fell over one!!
Wedding day with Leona and Phil
Aiden invites you to join him!
 Over the years, my cleaning habits improved markedly (even while raising my own five kids). We divied up the chores, and by and large it all got done. But at some point, "clean-ish" was not enough for me, especially when entertaining. I remember trying to converse with a very interesting guest, all the while staring, horror struck, at a major cobweb I'd missed earlier. It was all I could think about, and I was sure he was registering the web-festooned corner with utter disgust.

Now we have Yaj and Sher and Aiden living with us, and my point of view has gradually been changing. They are ever-gracious hosts, and invite their friends to dinner on a frequent basis—and I don’t notice them having heart attacks beforehand. And me? I still make a sweep for cobwebs, and do my best to tidy up on a daily basis, but I am no longer hesitant to invite friends to the house on short notice. So what if the dining room features boxes of Evan's rice, pasta and spices from his old apartment? Does it really matter that baby Aiden's play mat is out on the family room floor in full view? 

I’ve missed out on the fun part of company for too many years. So…It's party time, and you're all invited!!!

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