Saturday, September 21, 2019

Playing by Different Rules

     B and I are having a dinner party next week. Well, it's not exactly a party. Three of my old friends are coming to visit. We're going to play golf together. Then they're coming over to our house for dinner and a round of poker. They're staying overnight in a local motel, and we're playing golf again the next morning before they go home.

     These guys are part of my old crowd of about eight or nine of us who used to play golf and poker together. When we played poker we took turns hosting -- the host would provide the house, the dining room table, some poker chips -- and when we first started out the host would also supply pizza and beer and a couple of family size bags of potato chips.

     We played together for 25 years before people started retiring and moving away, and finally the group kind of broke up -- although I know a few of the guys still get together occasionally to play golf. Anyway, slowly, over time, people started to up the ante on the evening's cuisine. One of the wives decided that pizza was too low class, and she made it her job to broil up a platter of chicken legs and wings and mix a green salad.

My idea
     Then one of our original players dropped out of the game, and we replaced him with another friend who turned out to be a vegetarian. His wife prepared a sophisticated vegetarian stew, preceded by appetizers featuring various cheeses, flavored hummus and  European-style crackers. She also put out a bottle of wine -- for the more refined palates.

     Meantime, while this gradual improvement in our culinary routine was going on, I was getting divorced, moving into a condo, and sticking resolutely to the routine of pizza, chips and beer. When I got together with B, and she found out about the poker game, she immediately decided that pizza wouldn't do. She wanted to cook. I discouraged her, not wanting to prevail upon her good nature to feed my friends. We reached an impasse. She did cook for my crowd a few times. Other times, especially if she was busy with her own activities, she bowed out, and I just followed my old routine of pizza and chips.

     But of course, that was then. And this is now.

     When she caught wind of my plans to have the guys over, she went into overdrive in planning a menu that would impress the Queen of England.

     I tried to discourage her. "Really," I told her, "you slaving over a hot stove for this group of guys is not what I was thinking about then we made these plans. You don't have to do that."

     "Oh, yes I do," she responded. "And I don't mind. I like to cook."

     "Yeah, but I don't want to be the one causing you to have to do a whole lot of extra work."

     "It's no big deal," she assured me. "I enjoy doing it. I'll cook up some pasta primavera, make a salad. I'll bake a pumpkin pie. I'm just wondering what I should serve for hors d'oeuvres."

     "No, that's too much," I protested. "It's too much work."

     "No, not really," she insisted. "I've got plenty of time to get ready."

     "Okay . . . I guess," I said. Then, trying to compromise, I offered, "But we don't need dessert and we surely don't need hors d'oeuvres. These guys expect pizza and potato chips, nothing else.You're already exceeding expectations."

     I was thinking about people's expectations and their judgments, and . . . what's good enough. In my mind, these guys were expecting to have a good time playing golf and cards and joking around. They were most certainly not expecting a gourmet meal.

Her idea
     But B plays with a different rule book. She looked at me and said, "It's okay for you to serve pizza. It's not okay for me to serve pizza."

     "Why not?" I asked innocently.

     "Because, like it or not, we live in a society that still judges women differently from men. You can serve pizza. I can't serve pizza."

     "But they're not bringing their wives. You don't have to impress the women. It's just the guys."

     She said nothing. She just gave me a look . . . you know the look, the look that says I'm clueless but she loves me anyway.

     "Well, at least let's try to keep it simple," I finally said, giving up, "so you don't have to do too much extra work."

     "You're not making me do extra work. I want to do this. Now, I'm thinking about the hors d'oeuvres."

     "Ah," I said, brightening. "So at least let me take care of the hors d'oeuvres. I've got them covered. I'll get a family size potato chips . . . and maybe some dip too."

     "Yeah, okay, get some chips," she smiled indulgently. "Now let's see," she murmured to herself, "maybe I can drive over to Altamonte's and pick up one of their special cheese plates."

21 comments:

DJan said...

It sounds like it will be a lot of fun, not to mention a gourmet meal! Complete with pumpkin pie! :-)

Olga said...

A good meal sounds like a good idea to me.

gigi-hawaii said...

Hey, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Count your blessings, man!

Anonymous said...

OMG! I cannot imagine wanting to stick around while my husband's friends gather, let alone feed the lot. I do recall, back in the 1950s in engineering school when all of his friends and my friends were in the same group of guys (with 12 women on campus, including a grandmother taking German language class, there wasn't much choice!) that we had "the gang" over, a lot; but, feed them? Are you out of your mind? No, we didn't have pizza - that would have to wait until we moved to Wichita and "dined" at the original Pizza Hut - but the guys did bring their own drinks. Perhaps there was a bag of chips, around, but it certainly wasn't because the hosting couple provided them.

Perhaps you've just reminded me why Hunky Husband and I have no social life - laughing.
Cop Car

Kevin said...

Hilarious. Sometimes I wonder if you're somehow taping the conversations in MY house!

Wisewebwoman said...

To each his own I guess, I remember slaving over such a doing for former husband and brewing up the best of British grub (they were all rugger players) only for complaints about the lack of pizza and chips, the standard fare. I broke the tradition and they were ill at ease eating the steak and kidney pie with assorted veggies and mashed potatoes and mushy peas. (A taste of home)

Never again.

XO
WWW

Linda Myers said...

My husband Art does that when I have people over. He loves to cook and he loves me, and I'm grateful he shows it that way.

Good luck with the poker!

Tabor said...

Lucky you to have such a good cook as a friend. Take advantage of her skills and in the future if she needs you for something you can be there for her!

Gail, northern California said...

I guess I'm clueless. My late husband used to have guys over for Friday night poker. He supplied the chips, they brought the beer. Never occurred to me to suggest anything else.

It does bring to mind a funny story though: The guys were always welcome to bring a friend. One Friday night the new player was a rather scruffy-looking guy. Turns out he was an undercover DEA officer. As he removed his gun from its holder and placed it on the table, he grinned and said, "I always win."

Arkansas Patti said...

Lucky you to have someone who cares enough to put forth the effort to dazzle. I'd probably have been fine with the chips and pizza. Let us know what the guys thought.

Tom said...

Oh Cop Car, I didn't say that B will stick around. She will set up the dinner, then she'll go out to the movies with a friend of hers. Kevin I'm glad you see the humor in the situation. Otherwise, I'm hoping it is evident that my friends WILL appreciate the meal . . . and that I know how lucky I am.

Jono said...

Long ago we solved the problem by simply not allowing the women to be there. As we aged it turned into something akin to what you are doing, but the games became much less frequent.

Rian said...

I tend to think that guys actually look forward to pizza and chips when they get together - not that they wouldn’t enjoy a good meal too. On occasion it’s nice to do something different. I’m sure whatever is served would be appreciated. If it were me, I’d have DH’s wonderful red beans and rice, some delicious cheesy biscuits, and sweet tea - maybe a little bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

If it were me, I'd probably do take out. Chinese food sounds good. LOL

Barbara said...

Cute. I remember when I was first married and we had friends over there would be chips and dips and cookies and coke. I was fine with it but I was so so young. Hahaha. Hadn't thought of that it years.

Laurie Stone said...

Sounds like B. wants to flex her creative cooking muscles. I'd let her. Personally (even as a woman) I'd be calling for pizza delivery. Consider yourself lucky!

Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE said...

Love my husband (married 25 years), love to cook, love to have friends around. That said, with two daughters to role model for, I wouldn't go all out on a party if it were just his friends and I would be stuck in food server mode...although if it were Halloween or April Fool's i could ham it up in an apron and have The Stepford Wives streaming on a loop throughout the night. Then maybe the satire would balance things out.

David @iretiredyoung said...

You may get a lot of us guys into trouble. I can just imagine me saying to Sally, "well, B did it when Tom's friends came over". I'm not convinced that's going to work out well for me🤔

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I understand B, I'd have done the same. And what was the reaction to all this?

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