Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Obsessive Compulsive Entertaining
I watch real estate shows. I store them up on my Tivo and watch them while working out, or futzing around the kitchen, or frankly, with my butt parked firmly on the couch. I like houses, I've always liked houses. From Buy Me to House Hunters through to My House is Worth What? all the way into renovation shows, I watch them. We renovated the living daylights out of our last house, and eventually we're likely to do the same here.
In my channel travels I've noticed something, and it leads to my question: Just how much are other people entertaining?
If I take HGTV at their word, barely a moment passes in the lives of nearly everyone but me between actually having parties, preparing for guests, or planning out the next shindig. Prospective buyers never glimpse a kitchen without referencing how a specific kitchen either would benefit entertaining, or would preclude it. Everyone wants an open kitchen so as to be able to talk to their guests, while entertaining, of course. They don't want to be isolated while cooking.
This has led me to believe that, as difficult as it is to accept, we must be a family of Hermits in Training, Recluses in the Making and Borderline Anti-Socials because whereas we have guests from time-to-time, a busy year for us would be two dinner parties. We have plenty of years that go by with only one, and thus far this year? Not a one. We were sort of busy looking for a new house, moving into the new house, and now completing the necessary painting and decorating. When we have spare time? We nap, or collapse, in gratitude, no less.
We're invited places, but we're as likely to pass on an invitation as we are to accept one, depending on the weekend. We tend to have a couple, or a person over for dinner, rather than throw full scale parties.
HGTV would have us believe that we're nearly freakish because of this. When we bought this house one of our concerns was not how well the kitchen, family room, and dining room would benefit entertaining, but how much we liked them. Our vast living room remains empty at this moment, because we still need to furnish the cavernous thing. If we had guests over right now, they'd get a lot of practice standing.
That's kind of a good thing because whoever designed the layout for this place never threw a party in their lives. The butler's pantry and the dining room have the kitchen in-between them, which amuses me to no end. Here you traverse one hall that sports the butler's pantry, take a turn through the kitchen, and then access the dining room through a separate door. I guess this is meant to allow your guests a full tour when you set up a buffet? Or perhaps the builder wanted to insure that in the boundless entertaining fever that has gripped the nation, you should still make sure to get plenty of exercise. Take a lap with that glass of wine.
Maybe we're just a family of homebodies. Or maybe I'm just deeply odd because I don't want to interact with guests while I'm cooking, I want them out from under foot so that I don't spectacularly ruin whatever the heck I'm making. Cooking as a spectator sport baffles me, and I've been cooking for a long time. I'm also a pretty darned good cook, but if you want to see me surly in the kitchen? Get in the way while I'm cooking. It's not like I'll start hitting people with spatulas, but if I have my preference, I don't like to add milling people to gas stove stops, sharp knives, and quick movements. I want to be isolated to avoid the need for medical intervention for anyone, me included.
The thing is, I suspect that my husband and I, while both having a well developed sense of enjoying each others company, and our own, really aren't quite the shut-in, anti-socials that HGTV would have us believe. I think people make more claims to entertaining than exist in actuality.
Sure, we've all known that person who throws a party at the drop of a hat, and loves doing it. Someone who really loves having lots of people over, and thrives on the hubbub of a houseful. For the most part, I think people do what we do, have people over once in a great while and enjoy that.
At least I hope so. I may be wrong. After all, every neighbor I've met here comments on how quiet we are compared to the previous owners. They entertained a lot, evidently. Barely a weekend went by without a backyard BBQ and pool party.
There is, however, a reason I think that most people entertain infrequently.
Every person that has commented on our relative quietness has sounded vastly relieved by the change. Entertain a great deal and you will have the approbation of HGTV. Spend a lot of time reading, and quietly going about your business, and you'll be a lot more popular with your neighbors. Or so it seems.
Maybe everyone else is entertaining. I don't know. We like peace, and quiet, occasionally venturing out, or inviting others in.
Party on, and entertain if that's your preference. Every now and then it's mine, too.
But, and this is just a guess, I think that HGTV might be trying to sell us a bill of goods when it comes to the entertaining craze.