Hosting a Dinner Party
Years ago, I worked for a small company with a charismatic owner. He had an expansive home and liked to host parties. It was pretty amazing to attend the parties, but they were huge affairs for either a company event or political candidate or a local social cause. I don't think he cared that much what any party was about as long as he got to have a big party and enjoy himself.
One time, I ended up spending the night in the guest room. The party went late (2 -3am) and I passed out after having too much to drink. I didn't sleep well and a short time after dawn, I heard sounds outside of my door and soon I was awake. I'm a terrible habitual drinker in both that I'm inconsistently entertaining when I drink and I nearly always suffer terrible hangovers when I overindulge. That morning, I was both hungover and sleep-deprived. I got dressed and went outside to see what was causing the noise. Walking outside to the backyard where the party had descended at midnight, I found my boss's cleaning lady. She was gathering up cups, glasses, and assorted debris with a gentle smile almost exactly like a person who hadn't spend the evening doing shots of Jack Daniels and ignoring her body's internal signal to get a good night's rest.
I spent the next 2 hours wandering around with a book in my hand (every time I tried to sit down and read I thought I might throw up) watching her work. In a short time, the backyard was spotless, the garbage was removed, and all the dishes were cleaned and put away. I witnessed this with a certain mute fascination as she reassembled the house. Sometime around 9 am, when the coffee was percolating in the coffee pot, my boss came down from his bedroom rubbing sleep from his eyes. He grabbed a mug and nodded to me, looking far less hungover than I felt.
I realized then that from his eyes, the house had magically put itself back together in the middle of the night. More than that, his assistants had set up the event, the caterer had provided all the food and liquor, and his pre-dawn-waking cleaning lady had cleaned up the mess by the time he started the day. Even though he was the host of every party, he truly had almost no responsibility for anything that happened. His job was to have a good time and ensure that others did too or were at least plied with enough liquor that they thought they did.
Fast forwarding to the present - we hosted a dinner party at our house last night. I decided the menu earlier this week, cleaned the house and cooked nearly all the dishes (or pleaded with my family to do so) throughout the day, my wife and I hosted the event, and then cleaned up with some of our guests when things came to a close. It was lovely. Our daughters were hugely helpful, the dishes were a success, the conversation was fantastic, and our guests left happy. However, it was a stressful day with a lot of work for everyone. And right now, I'm very, very tired.
I had a great time, but I I don't know how many times last night I wondered about how great it would be to lie back, fall asleep surrounded by dirty dishes and smudged glasses and wake the following morning to the sound of coffee percolating in my sparkling kitchen of my beautiful, clean expansive house.