Performance Anxiety

We went over to Mark’s house for dinner tonight. Few things are as wonderful as somebody else serving you a home-cooked meal. All you have to do is sit down and enjoy. He made a salad of escarole and then some penne with a Bolognese. Desirée (his sister / our friend) and her daughter Sarah were there, and we talked about the up-coming Oscar awards, UAE managing of US ports, and the advantages of having a Lexapro prescription. The girls regaled us with skits from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie (“Dadee, I whant a new pohny”) and then we discussed the Olympics and the complexities of computers and cable. It was a wonderful evening, and I couldn’t help but ask myself why we didn’t do this more often.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot: why does it make me anxious to invite people over for dinner? If it’s a spur of the moment thing it’s not problem at all. I’m just roasting up a chicken and Mark or Jim should come over and join us. No sweat. I’m okay with Dorte coming over any time. She does kitchen duty too, so it never feels as if I have to put together a meal to impress or satisfy.

The trouble sets in when I have to start thinking about what will make people happy. How clean does the house have to be? Do all of the Polly Pockets have to be picked up? What should the menu be? Should I try something new? Sometimes when I’ve tried a new recipe for dinner I’ll ask The Husband, “Is this good enough for guests?” Invariably he says yes, and still I never get that dinner party going.

I was talking this over with Chrystèle the other day. She’s always having people over for dinner, so I consider her a pro. “You just can’t worry about not having it perfect. People are just happy to be at your table.” She sounded so convincing in her French accent that I think I believe her.

I’m going to invite the next door neighbors over. I’ll make flank steak or macaroni and cheese. Maybe I’ll do fish filets in parchment with an endive salad. I’ll think of something.

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