Parties Are Such Sweet Sorrow
When it comes to marital problems, I learned about the usual—money, sex, communication, jealousy, etc. But not once was party planning mentioned. And I wish that it had.
One of the hardest things about my relationship is that my husband has no problem with impromptu gatherings. He has no problem with anything impulsive.
The other day he was out getting supplies for our new kitchen. He had every intention of working in the kitchen the whole day. He decided that while he was out, he might as well get a haircut. The barber was near one of his favorite bars. “Why not,” he thought, “Invite one of my old co-workers out for a beer?” Because he didn’t want his other co-worker to feel left out, he invited them too. This leads them to bar hop for the rest of the day. The kitchen remained untouched.
He’s the real-life version of the mouse in If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.
When my husband was only my boyfriend, I learned what his version of a party was. He decided (on a whim) to have people over. One quick social media post that says, “Come over!” was all he did to announce it. Maybe he texted a few people. If he had time, he bought a bag or two of chips. Oh yeah, and salsa. Rearrange some things so that there was a path to the bathroom. If he was lucky, people texted back asking if they could bring anything. When people started arriving, he lit a fire in the backyard. They spent the evening watching the fire while drinking. They burned random objects until people decided to go home. This is his idea of a fun time.
I will not go anywhere unless I’ve given it at least 24 hours of thought. If I’m meeting someone, it’s because I planned it a week in advance. The same goes for parties.
First, there is always a theme, be it a birthday, holiday, or special occasion. I send out my invitations two weeks before the party. This gives me time to anticipate how many people will show up. In the meantime, I plan a menu of appetizers and consider if I need a main course. Lists are born. Depending on the theme, decorations are planned. The food and decorations are bought at least three days before the party. The party area is cleaned top to bottom the night before. Food prep begins the morning of. The food is always set up in two rooms so there isn’t a traffic jam. I will inevitably get upset because I don’t think I bought enough food. I try and have a house cocktail planned. There will be plenty of mixers and non-alcoholic options available. Music is turned on an hour before the party starts. I know exactly what I’m wearing and how my hair will look. Involved parties have planned activities so that people don’t get bored. I deem a party successful when distinct groups of people form. I spend the evening floating between each group and make sure that everybody has what they need. That is my idea of a fun party.
Between dating and marriage, we discovered that we might have a problem.
The first party we planned together happened before I moved to Maryland. I was still living six hours away in Ohio. He mentioned that he wanted to do something the day before I drove up. I was already in panic mode by the time I got there. I had seen how he threw parties. I ignored the blatant, unplanned elements of his style because I was in love. But now we were getting serious. He was letting me help. He had no idea what he was getting himself into.
We first argued over food. He treated his bag of chips like the fishes and loaves miracle in the bible. Somehow there was enough for everyone. Not to me. We went to the grocery store twice that day. Once for food and cocktail supplies. The second, because we didn’t have enough of either. Then we bought three pizzas. We cleaned after he already cleaned for my coming visit. I picked a large scale cocktail and made it in advance. I over-planned the hell out of that party. There was so much food and alcohol left over. But he learned that that was me.
We’ve been together for almost seven years now and married for two. We are still learning how to compromise when it comes to parties. I am doing my best not to lose my cool if he suggests having people over last minute. He is trying to help me create my lists so that I don’t panic-buy too much food.
There is always food leftover. And his friends still start a fire and burn things for entertainment. But at least we know what to expect now. At least we still have fun. Once parties can happen again, we’ll be ready, sort of. I will be.