A Song, a Host & a Toast


City girls who run around town know you shouldn’t be caught without an umbrella these days. The weather is turning colder, the leaves are mostly off the trees, and a rainstorm showers at any time on a gray day to drench you, so it pays to be prepared. It is November rain girls.

I went to a near-by supermarket. Every time I go there, I start planning a dinner party. I hover near the cheeses and mentally compose platters.Yums.

I browse the wines and pair them up. The more I see — cream-wrapped cakes, fresh tulips, frosted bottles of martini’s — the more worked-up I get. Then I make myself stand over by the aisle and calm down. I am just here for spinach and tomatoes , I repeat – over and over – until I am ready to continue shopping, properly.

Despite supermarket fantasies, I don’t entertain much. I can host casual get-together’s because there’s nothing casual about my (lack of) hosting skills. My neighbor can throw a party just by opening a bag of chips and calling a few friends. Her parties are relaxed and enjoyable, consistently. While she keeps talking and entertaining everyone.

I, on the other hand, would need to google recipe sites, browse cookbooks, make three trips to the nearest grocery market for procuring breads, sauces and herbs and get exquisite crockery out of the attic to place on the table. You can imagine my expectations after all of that. My guests had better bring it.

This monsoon, I tried to host a barbecue cook-out for two families who didn’t know each other. I wanted to make it simple.

I mixed up lemon squash and margaritas from scratch, juicing limes until my finger were raw. I found a vintage marinade that needed two types of wine R550/- each and fresh herbs. I downloaded playlists, put tea lights and wore this gauzy new shirt that I thought said “Good Life”.

When the doorbell rang, I lit all the candles, cued up the jazz music and practically screeched “You ready?!” in the faces of my guests. You can guess what happened. People were polite, but the chemistry was off. Everyone downed the margaritas in the first 15 minutes, and then sat there looking at each other. My dad kept switching the jazz music to antic Bollywood. The men decided to eat their dinner in front of the T20 cricket match on TV, and the 550/–  marinade dripped through the grill, causing the chicken to burst into expensive flames.

Determined to not give up, I changed bollywood to pop & started running through my mental checklist of fun topics like American Idol (which no one watched) & True Blood (no takers).  My guests had left early.

I am aware of the fact of being together, I get it, but don’t we have specific areas in which we can’t let it go? I can confidently wander around town without showering and wearing spectacles but I can’t host a dinner party without ironing napkins and choosing thematic music.

I can accept, I will always have frizzy curly hair, but I refuse to accept that I’m not fun. I’m fun.

I’m in recovery now. For my last dinner gathering, I forced myself to order pizza and use paper napkins but I did put on some reggae and this new purple dress from The Annabella that had a heart  emblazoned across the front in sparkly format. I thought it showed “Humanity” (my friend claimed it showed “Reckless”).

Still, progress is a progress.

I came to dance, dance, dance, dance
I hit the floor because that’s my, plans, plans, plans, plans
I’m wearing all my favorite brands, brands, brands, brands

– Taio Cruz (Dynamite)

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