One of my favorite authors dedicated a book to the students of my grad school by noting that they had more dollars than sense. They also had pizzaz and hosted some of the best parties you could imagine. One might think that hosting dinners would have been all the rage being an Ivy League school. But not in my generation; they were all dance-crazed types who couldn’t keep it penned in and were interested in raising a ruckus. The food was snacky stuff and not too good a quality. The rule was lots of beer and crazed dancing intermixed with intense conversations. Parties could last almost till dawn, and people were known to sink into inebriation, get sober during hours of dance, and fall back into intoxication by four AM.
By contrast, a young woman with aspirations introduced me to the world of aperitifs, hors d’oeuvres, and seating arrangements. I learned a bit about the correct wines and proper stemware to use. The other day I found a pair of small, handblown glass snifters. All that was left of the pretensions of that bygone time, when I left grad school and emerged into a new poverty, she became uncertain. And when I retreated to trade employment, I became unsuitable. I reverted to sailing with folks who held their coffee in their whole hand, eschewed the use of cup handles, and to whom seating placement meant who could get a good seat at the table first.
My wife and I are thinking of hosting a get-together this fall. we’ll invite some of the newer interesting neighbors, old friends, and dojo mates from our martial arts days. But it won’t be a sit-down dinner. It’ll be the pop-up pavilion in the yard, both fire pits raging and lots of easy food on the dining room table. Nothing newfangled or gimmicky, no crystal, and no quick and easy invitations to drunkenness; if it gets chilly, we’ll move in to sit by the wood stove, play guitar and tell stories. Being older, I doubt the get-together will last later than eleven, which will be fine.
No howling at the full moon.