Years ago, March 2001 to be exact, Mitch (my ex-husband) and I went to a dinner party. A dinner party that I will never forget. A dinner party that could have been in a movie but I would have seen it and thought, “no one would really behave like that.”
Back in 2001, our girls were 3 and 5. We were making new friends, getting our bearings in new school communities. Not every couple, every family was going to be our favorites but we were willing to try people on, see if anyone fit.
That spring we attended a dinner party for four couples at the home of Liz and Dan (names sort of changed). Mitch and I were there, our friends (to this very day) John and Jen, and another couple, Robin and Rob (names sort of changed).
This is taken from the email I sent March 10, 2001 to my college BFFs.
“Our hosts are Liz and Dan, they have moved here recently from Rochester NY, he is a patent attorney and she is just a patented pain in the ass.
We arrive at the house which is new and gorgeous, perfectly and expensively decorated. Liz seems a little tense but the food and company are great, very entertaining. Liz won’t allow anyone to mix red and white wine. I don’t mean to mix it in a glass to drink but at ALL, EVER. If you have a glass of white, you have committed to white for the evening. If you have red first, that’s it, you’re done. You drink that red wine all night. Don’t even ask to mess with this HOUSE rule.” Have you ever heard of restricting your guests choice of beverage. What if I like a little white with the cheese appetizer and a red with dinner? Am I not still human?! Do I not deserve a place at the table?!
“While chatting before dinner, it comes up that Liz is from Clinton, NY home of Hamilton College and about 30 miles from where I went to college. This is a convenient ice-breaker since we are new acquaintances. Liz and I have central NY in common. She tells me that she grew up on a “Gentleman’s Farm” and that her father is a retired radiologist.” OK. That’s an odd thing to say. I’ve been to Clinton and I don’t really picture it as Virginia horse country. Don’t get me wrong, I adore central NY and it is lovely countryside but that’s a weird thing to say, right? Color me not impressed but confused.
“All the guys go outside to hang out. I go chat with them and report back to the ladies in the kitchen, “Mitch is outside having a smoke.” This is back in the less-restrictive smoking times of yore. Liz flipped out. Not that he was smoking on her property but that he smoked at all. Not concern for his health but anger that he was smoking. Robin let us in on a little secret that Liz had quit smoking in the recent past so that made more sense, while continuing to be vaguely uncomfortable.
“When dinner is ready (salmon, wild rice, and a salad with cranberries, really good). Liz is clearly into her cups and while seating herself at the head of the table yells (not speaks loudly, YELLS) “No beer bottles at the table, it’s RUDE!” OK, fine. Perhaps you could offer glasses to the beer drinkers.” See? Is it me?
“Dinner commences. I compliment Liz on the salmon and ask what she used for seasoning. Liz is head-bobbing drunk at this point and screeches that NO ONE is getting any recipes. Except Jen. Jen can have recipes and she actually said this, slurred this. “No ONE is getting myyyyy rethipes! No ONE! but jenniver, jhenn caaaan have my rethipes.”
I am assuming that Jen is going to be given recipes in exchange for letting Liz crawl all over Jen’s husband, John. And the crawling has begun.
We are eating dinner at a large, rectangular antique dining table with a variety of perfectly mismatched antique chairs. About midway through the meal, Robin’s chair shatters and she abruptly drops to the ground. It was so damn funny. Robin is a big-bottomed girl and she is really funny, as well as being absolutely horrified. The rickety, now just a load of kindling, chair is removed, another is brought in and the fun continues. Robin and I cannot stop laughing about the chair explosion. Elizabeth demands that we cease all discussion of the incident because it is NOT funny. Well, yeah it is.
“Dinner ends. Mitch, Bob and Dan have gone off somewhere, probably outside for smokes or hits of Valium. Robin, Jenn and I are at one end of the table chatting and Liz has John trapped at the other end, I’m sure trying to seduce him when she is able to lift her head up out of her plate. It is after 10 p.m at this point. Mitch and I have a sitter and need to get up early in the morning to get Mitch to the airport. We really need to go. I mention this to Elizabeth and she has a fit. Not, “ohh so sorry, you must leave. I have so enjoyed your company.” She is ranting, which makes me laugh. She tells me how rude I am because Jen (whose husband Liz is about to start leg humping) has made a cheesecake and no one can leave without eating dessert. Dan brings dessert to the table, we dutifully take our seats to enjoy the dessert. Dan says that dessert is not mandatory (this is the US of A afterall, we hold these truths to be self-evident) but the Head Bobber says that au contraire, Dessert is Mandatory. The cheesecake was sooo good, not surprising as Jen is a fantastic cook and entertainer.
I eat the mandatory cheesecake and reiterate that Mitch and I need to leave. Liz, yanks her head up, surveys the crowd and agrees that Yes, everyone must leave, now!
Mitch and I get up, prepare to leave and notice that the two other guest couples are cleaning the kitchen but the host and hostess are no where to be found so we skip the hell out of there.
We got home and Jenn called to let me know that the reason we couldn’t find our hosts is because they had retired to the basement to get high.
Liz and Dan never invited us over again. Too bad, I would have loved to have more material.