Sometimes I wish I could have a conversation with the person I was before I started this blog. Oh, the advice I would give myself.
( 6pm, June 3, 2012.)
Old Me: I get so nervous throwing dinner parties.
New Me: Stop right there. That kind of an attitude doesn't help anyone -- especially your guests.
Old Me: But there's so much to d0. It feels overwhelming.
New Me: Entertaining friends is like learning to ride a bike. It gets easier every time until suddenly you don't even think twice about it. In the beginning, K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Old Me: So what should I serve?
New Me: Something easy. Something that doesn't require lots of fussy timing. And definitely something you've made before. When you're more seasoned, all these rules can be broken.
Old Me: Who should I invite?
New Me: People you love. People who make you laugh. People you're excited to get to know better.
Old Me: What if they don't get along?
New Me: Of course they'll get along. People can have different opinions and still get along. That's what makes for a fun, high-spirited evening.
Old Me: But there's so much pressure to have it go perfectly.
New Me: That's all in in your head. Anyway, perfect dinner parties are incredibly boring. Four years from now, shortly after greeting guests, your husband is going to drop a full bottle of red wine on the kitchen floor in front of everyone.
Old Me: Oh my God. What a disaster!
New Me: Not at all. You and he are going to crack a couple of jokes, nonchalantly clean up the mess and open another one. And do you realize how relaxed the vibe is going to be afterwards? Newsflash: An accident is a unscheduled opportunity to make people feel more comfortable. It's not what happens, it's how you handle it that matters.
Old Me: Really?
New Me: Yes. And listen, you're going to have a couple of dessert fiascos yourself -- and from them, you will learn to always keep some fancy chocolate in the pantry.
Old Me: But what about timing stuff? How can we make it so Piero and I aren't jumping up and down all night?
New Me: A certain amount of jumping up and down is inevitable. But you can make it easier on yourself by serving the food buffet-style in the kitchen so everyone can help themselves. Guests really like this -- it makes them feel at home.
Old Me: What about setting the table?
New Me: What about it? Keep it informal and fun. String a few garlands of ivy from the chandelier. Gather some bougainvillea petals from your garden and arrange them into a rectangle around a bunch of votive candles. Buy some 99 cent trinkets and put them on everyone's plate. Tie the napkins in garden twine. Be creative. There are no rules anymore.
Old Me: What about when dinner's over? When should I clear up?
New Me: Lisa, please. Let people linger. There is nothing sexier than the sweet disorder of a dining table. The light is low and intimate, there are crumbs on the table, glasses are huddled together. Everything is in bewitching disarray. The conversation that floats up from an atmosphere like this is often the most magical of the evening.
(Midnight, June 3, 2012.)
Old Me: (nervously) Do you...do you really think...?
New Me: Yes. I do. Now get on that bike and start riding.