I hate inviting people over. I am so focused on the logistics that I can rarely relax and have a good time.
Do we have enough plates? Is everything clean? Is there enough food? Is the food hot? Is everyone comfortable? Has the food turned out ok? Etc etc etc? Try thinking of conversation topics that can interest 4 people and watch me panic.
Until last year, I had invited only 1 person over and cooked a meal for her. Because we hung out at each other’s house anyway so I wasn’t worried if something got messed up. But in the last 1 year I have made the effort to invite people home. Specially colleagues. It is a lot of effort. I don’t have a live-in househelp and would never entrust the meal to a cook. And if the plan is to order in, why not just meet at a restaurant instead for the meal? If am inviting someone over, it takes me atleast half a day to organise everything and I make sure to cook a few courses, if not all of them. Even if it isn’t perfect, it is personal. And that counts, in my books.
I invite people over when I am trying to take my relationship with them to the next level. The objective is to let them know that they are special, I care and would like to stay in touch. That I enjoy their company and treasure the good times we’ve spent together.
But entertaining at home is what I dread the most. So, when I hand out an invite “Why don’t you (and your spouse, if he/she exists) come over for a meal?”, I silently cross my fingers hoping the person will turn it down with “Sorry, we are too busy and have better things to do”. But that has never happened (HOW the hell not?). Maybe they were too polite to say so but were thinking about it in their head. And so a mutually convenient date is worked out and I clear out my schedule waiting for that weekend. I tell KC “I have invited XYZ over on Sunday for lunch so please come early from cricket”.
The house is cleaned till it gleams, there are diffusers and candles in every room, flowers in the vases, a menu decided after hours of planning in my head, food cooked without any help, snacks/beverages/liqour fit for 10 people purchased because I don’t want to run out. Like, yesterday I wasn’t sure what the teetotallers would drink so I bought buttermilk, diet Coke, regular Coke, diet Pepsi and regular Pepsi. I didn’t want someone to leave the house with feelings of disgust because they had to drink Pepsi instead of Coke. Or vice versa. But then again, would I like people who were that pedantic?
KC watches me in amusement and stays out of the way. He is very clear about the split in responsibility “You invited them over. Don’t expect me to over extend. When I invite people over, it is for video games and cricket matches and nobody cares if they are fed or not”.
I know, I know, I have turned a simple act of entertaining at home into this gamut of complications and the people accepting the invites have no idea they are entering into a venus fly trap of expectations from which there is no escape.