Along for the ride:

Friday, January 1, 2010


When you go to a New Year's Eve Dinner Party warned in advance that it must start by 6pm, as the other guests don't like to eat late, you are somewhat prepared to lower your expectations for an extended evening of hilarity and celebration.
The combination of designating myself the alcohol-free driver for the evening and the culmination of our swinging good time by 10 pm, (at home and in bed by eleven), meant that I had no trouble getting up this morning; although I was totally wrung out and exhausted by the social efforts of keeping a conversation going at our table of seven souls and containing the almost overwhelming urge to smack the boorish husband of the pale personalitied lady, who was so iron willed about our dinner schedule.
Mr. Retired International Pilot wanted to talk about all his name dropping destinations, which was a good start. Unfortunately, he didn't know anything about anywhere outside of the airports and the names of the hotels he stayed in so we couldn't compare notes on people and places in any depth.
He and our host are avid hockey fans. This I know because an enormous TV screen with endless puck chasing and much whacking of sticks was a part of the ambience. I was able to pull a few factoids I have heard on the news recently about players transferring back to their homelands to be part of the next Winter Olympic go-around. That kept us going for a good three or four minutes and scored me a few points, I would hope.
His wife, a retired nurse, mentioned an interest in bird-watching. I tried to draw her out with questions about her hobby. I reminisced about The Camargue in southern France, where we could watch flocks of swans and flamingoes fly in to feed in the early dawn light. Mr. Pilot wanted to know how many miles that was from Barcelona? Understandable, I suppose, for one from such a large and important World Power. Maybe they didn't point out in pilot school that we Europeans do like to differentiate still between one Country and another.
Our Hostess was busy undercooking our potatoes and wondering if she had marinated the ribs for long enough. As the engine of the Porsche was still ticking down in cooling mode as we walked up the driveway and she had mentioned that they just got back from the grocery store immediately preceding our arrival, one can assume that the question was rhetorical in nature.
Dowager Hostess (her mother) was visiting and in amazingly good form. She's in her mid eighties. In the past twelve months she has overcome a stroke, a broken hip, intestinal surgery and the loss of her son to cancer. Currently working through a fractured clavicle and a lap-burn from spilling hot tea, she didn't chat much but it was a pleasure to see her dig into her food with gusto and burp occasionally by my side.
We lost the company of Host and Pilot Twerp after the meat and potato course. The draw of the sports was too powerful. They did let the two rampaging dogs in for slobber company; just in case we were lonely, or undecided about having our outfits dry cleaned after the Holidays. The dogs were quite amusing without anyone having to say a word but, after several elaborate humping exercises as a sort of floor show, they inspired our hostess to launch into a very detailed poop-scooping anecdote.
My Hubby can be quite entertaining sometimes. There are reasons I keep him around. Not so last night. He remained politely silent as paint-remover grade California red wine was poured into his glass and he ate his meat despite his doubts about a slightly sweet sauce on a savory dish. He did raise one good hockey question but it turned out they weren't playing with two pucks; that was a dead fly stuck on the TV screen.


  1. Oh dear, not the best night then. I've been to a few of them myself in my time. I once got stuck next to an eye surgeon who delighted in describing his surgical techniques whilst dissecting a brussel sprout. Actually I suppose it was perhaps marginally better than hockey! ;0)

  2. Holy sh_ _! That sounds like a horrid party. I'm sure you are really looking forward to having them over for Valentine's Day...or St. Pat's...or Easter?

    This was hilarious. I'm just sorry for you that it is true. It is true, isn't it?

  3. Sounds like a typical new years eve bash, everyone killing themselves trying to enjoy it!!
    Sorry you didn't get a more enjoyable evening. We stayed at home, it was bliss.

  4. This is exactly why i hate new years! I've never had a good one.. until this year, which was fantastic, will be posting about it soon (but the kid left her new camera with all the evidence on it at their house.. 30 miles away!) Sorry yours was a struggle, have a cheers on us! :-D

  5. Oh dear, oh dear. Not an overwhelming success, except when it comes to this reader, who is, as usual, very appreciative of your particular persepctive on life. Even such an evening of social crassness and culinary underschievement is pure gold in your hands. I am actually sorry your New Year's Eve couldn't have been better, but am glad it was fodder for your fabulous wit.
    Happy New Year, English Rider. Very glad I found you.

  6. Ugh - I stayed home and now I know why!

  7. Please insert the loudest, wicked, annoying cackle that you have ever heard me make. I laughed all the way through.

    You, once again, are too kind. I would never trust my New Year's Eve to anyone else. All that pressure to do good, doomed to ultimate failure. I much prefer to be alone with my husband, two glasses of cold champagne, and very low expectations. I'm not a very good citizen.

    I've had better picnics with you and your French Artist. But, I must say, I got enormous hilarious pleasure out of reading your post this morning. It started my day off right–with laughter and gratitude (that I wasn't within 4,000 miles of that dolt-loaded dirge of a "party").

    Now let's get on with making parties of our own for no good goddamn reason under the sun but to celebrate the rising and falling of our chests with life-giving oxygen!


  8. How in the world did you get scammed into attending this "dinner party" (not)??? You both are way too polite. You could have fed your dinner to the humping dogs and made a dash for the Porsche.

  9. TechnoBabe, some of my earliest memories are of my Mother asking me to go and make conversation with her party guests. I can usually connect on some level.

    Pliers, you're just plain bad! I don't even care about the special New Years aspect. It was bad by any standard of social occasion.

  10. Kate, I got so much done yesterday because I was neither tired nor hung over.

    Deborah, thank you and Happy 2010 to you too.

    Watercats, can't wait for your party post. Love your new digs.

  11. Ohmigosh, that is hilarious!! So sorry you had to struggle through that party, but I must admit, you've made the best of it. I can only imagine the little strange journeys your mind was taking as the evening progressed.

    Delightful job, as usual, of narrating the little significant details of the event, and of each guest. Unfortunately, I do believe I too have encountered many of the same people in different skins. *lol*

  12. Di, glad it was good for you.

    Lydia, Too true, is what it is. Our Host and Hostess are good friends and usually great fun. Above and beyond being easy to tweak their buttons as they are knee jerk Republican, homophobic, bigots with a good measure of conspiracy theorist thrown in. (See my profile note about friends with whom I disagree about everything). Somehow the chemistry was all wrong with the addition of the other couple.

  13. St. Jude. I now have an image of brussels sprout disection to erase from my mind. Did you learn anything useful?

  14. Jean, my mind goes on strange little journeys with a lot less provocation than that and yes, I am sure these folks come from a universal template.

  15. Why did you go, could you not have had a serious case of previous engagement with a toilet brush?

    I know these dinner dates, we have one coming up on the 13th and I am thinking of jumping into the river before then.

    ER, I have been thinking about blogging: your blog is amongst the ones that keep me at it.

    Happy new year.

  16. Friko, We went because the host and hostess are very good friends. We support one another. Thanks for your kind words.

  17. My ex is an international pilot but he at least can carry on a decent conversation...unless there is a hockey game going on. Sometimes it is so fun to rile people up just a little when the party is like this. The left and the right can get their dander up so quick~! Slobbery dogs are the bane my existence.

    I liked the Dowager Hostess...she was probably a hoot if you could get her going~!

  18. Happy Hour, Dowager Hostess is a Pistol!

  19. Oh English Rider, you make me scream! Bwahahahah!!

    Oh bless their little white cotton socks, all of them.

    I'm truly sorry that for you, your Hubby, and your friends the Host and Hostess, the evening was so dire, due to the boorish other guests, but you've rewritten the event to make it so funny! Thank you!

    (Also, as far as I'm concerned, if people don't like what I'm serving, or when I'm serving it, then send regrets and don't come - it's MY party, dammit! Or loosen up and go with the flow, you might just >shock< enjoy yourself!)

    As for me, I stayed home, drank fresh orange juice and enjoyed the peace and solitude as the year drew to a close - then pigged on Champagne and foie gras on New Years Day with a clear head.

    Happiest of New Years wishes!
    Bisous, Kitty

  20. Kitty, Hi. I had just given up on you. Glad you are still out there and can't wait to read your new posts.

  21. Wow... that sounds like a... ummm... fabulous party. I love the part about the dogs and their "exercising". That sounds like the height of such a grand event. ;)

    Anyways, I know I'm a few days delayed but I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year.

  22. Shattered, Happy New Year and Happy All Year Long to you too.

  23. Can I just say what a genius piece of writing - i had to be very careful not to laugh out loud as the science students sitting next to me in the library kept shooting me dirty looks!

    My christmas meals used to be a lot like this - with my nan endlessly discussing Mrs Jones's (who I'd never met) hernia operation in explicit detail as i tucked in to boiled-to-death sprouts. Excellent writing!

  24. I like the way Retired International Pilot was relegated to Pilot Twerp within 4 paragraphs. The dinner sounds like something from a French & Saunders sketch! It's a shame you did not video your husband's facial expressions. I can imagine he would be horrified with the poor wine and the badly treated meat!
    Happy new Year to you, ER!

  25. Hi Pixie, Brussels sprouts are often a key element in memories of childhood. Why is that?

  26. Dave, Would that French and Saunders had participated in that evening. That would have been AbFab.

  27. Reading this was like watching a train wreck.. you are horrified by can not do anything but stare.

    If ever there was a time to jump up and run screaming with jazz hands... all the way to the car... this would have been it.

    It is so wrong of me to have loved every word...I can't help it...I have lost my appetite to every one of these people... just (dear God) not all at the table at the same time.

  28. @eloh, after the flash visual of the jazz hands I'm wondering if this should become a musical version of... Imagine how much worse it could have been?
    Now that I think of it, the last group we met at one of their parties were all a lot of fun until one gentleman asked for a moment of silence during dinner, in remembrance of someone whom none of us knew? That killed the party spirit and was down right wierd.

  29. We always enjoy a bit of running up and down the street banging on pots and pans at New Year's eve. Maybe these dinner guests just needed a bit of unexpected behavior to break the spell, because lets face it, running and whooping with cookware is just plain fun.