Hell hath no fury like the eyes of a host expecting guests. They see EVER-Y-THING EVER-Y-WHERE. They flood the entire house with the damning light of the unclean. Condemned is the rosy glow of procrastination that normally allows one to see cobwebs as merely billowing indoor clouds – just a step closer to communing with nature really.
I am acutely struck by these evil eyes mostly on an annual basis, when I host a gathering at year’s end. I love finally being able to get together with many friends and bask in their good humor and kinship. They are wonderful, wonderful people, but they LIE. They LIE like my (dog hair-covered) front door rug.
Normally, my day-to-day entails apologizing for the clutter and other landfill-sized mounds strewn over floors. In reply, my friends say things like, “Oh we never have time to clean either, or who cares about a clean house, there’s so much more to life that is far more important”. A credo I actually believe in; a credo that I know I honestly uphold – alone.
All these able members of the Liars Club have homes ready for a photo shoot in BH & G at the drop of a paper towel. Pop in on them, regardless of the time of day or day of the week, and you’ll be invited in to have a chat and sit on pristine seats atop the shiniest floors in the universe. These are the real shining lights reflected in the sky at night.
I cringe at every realization that I could rarely, to never, reciprocate that invitation. I am the queen of doorstep conversation. “Hey, how’d you like to have a seat on that outside chair right there, on the outside of the house, and I’ll get us a drink for here, outside”. I wonder if they notice? Of course they do. Then they go home and re-shine their floors just to spite me.
So, while the thought floats gently through my
screams mind that it really could be interesting to hold a front yard party in early January Canada, I grudgingly accept that I‘d never get the grass raked in time. Thus, I rush to appease these eyes of damnation. I fly from one end of the house to the other with cleanser and polish to head off any possible ugh! moment for a guest.
As I work through all that anticipatory contact, I spy something odd, even for me. Wait…is that… plum pudding on the blinds??!! But, but we didn’t have plum pudding this year. Oh my God. OK kids, new goal: Clean all the dirt that guests might recognize from last year!
While we’re scrambling to meet new achievements, I picture my friends discussing their impending visit to my mess O’ horrors:
- “Um, so, Robyn’s invitation has arrived again…. And? Well, she is our friend so let’s try our best to enjoy this as much as possible while looking only directly into each other’s eyes”.
- “Well, this year I’m putting the hazmat suit on under my clothes. There’s no way I’ll be able to smile through feeling a glob of plum pudding stuck to my thigh”.
- “OK, let’s re-do our plan from last year to drink as much as possible to get through the
messevening and maybe even to…. forget”.
- “Hey, maybe we can invite her out next year”.
Hey! I’ve been invited out three times this year. Was that…. ? Stop it! Go test the martini potency and then get back to work!
Somehow, in the midst of these mental meanderings and the frantic efforts of Thing 1 and Thing 2 (me and child), the house started to resemble something like the original intentions of the architect.
Eventually we got to an understanding. Actually, more like simple resignation – what will be, will be. Whatever else we may spy gets a quick kick under the couch. The rest of the prep plan is fairly simple – take off the apron, smooth down the hair, quick check via socks for dog hair on the baseboards. Last, but not least, turn down the lights and light up the candles. Nothing says, what spot on the wall? like mood lighting.
Then I will deploy the ultimate mood lightener – martinis. I’ll take their coats with one hand, and plop a glass in their hand in one efficient motion. I’ll keep the pitcher handy and refill often. Non-drinkers will get over-stuffed with plenty of fresh plum pudding. Even if they do notice a spot on the wall at some point, the odds are pretty good that they won’t care. At least not until next year’s invitation arrives.