Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is This Progress?

Contrary to what you might think, "progressive dinners" are not gatherings of people who like to eat while talking about having exceptionally progressive ideas or enjoying progressive rock. No, the word "progressive" here refers to the fact that the stress level of those involved in one or more stages of a progressive meal becomes progressively more intense as the event's day goes on.

When we moved 3 1/2 miles away from our old house to this one, our social calendar suddenly became full at all times. People in this part of town like to party. And unlike in many neighborhoods in America, our neighbors actually invite other neighbors inside their homes. A new family moved in at the end of the summer. Someone from down the street threw them a big party, after meeting them just once.

The non-profit organizations in this area have clearly figured this out. And so, on Saturday night, we were one of a dozen or so couples who agreed to be hosts for the Stanley Whitman House Progressive Dinner. During a cocktail party for 100 people, six people we'd never met would be given an envelope containing our address and we'd serve them dinner.

Because The Husband and I have people over quite often, I generally do not get too freaked out about having dinners and parties. (Note that I did not say we often "entertain." I make it a point not to juggle or tap dance when guests come to visit.) Having taken four cooking lessons in the past year or two, he has now become the one who does the cooking for guests, while I pay attention to things like making the salad and making sure the toilet is clean. I'm not convinced that this lack of responsibility is making things easier for me.

If you have a list of 23 dinner-party-related things that need to be done by 5:30, you're busy all day, checking each item off of your to-do list. On Saturday, I played a long game of Scrabble with my son and, yes, cleaned the toilet. While The Husband chopped and sauteed and roasted, I got a 32 points plus a 50-point bonus for using all seven letters in one turn.

But suddenly, it was almost time to go. Quick shower, throw on something Stanley Whitman-ish and I'll be all set. But it was a Clothing Catastrophe Night. Every woman in America knows exactly what I'm talking about. The outfit you planned to wear looks terrible (very likely because of the amount of candy corn that's been consumed over the past three weeks.)

So what should be a 15 minute process becomes a 45-minute painful procedure. After trying on a few dozen sweater and skirt combinations, the closet is left looking like a burglar had come in looking to steal an outfit, but everything was all wrong for him.

But you know things really aren't going well when, five minutes after you were supposed to be out the door, you decide to cut your own bangs.

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