Friday, July 17, 2009

The Dinner Party

It would be my guess that everyone has had a party when something went wrong. How about a dinner party when everything went wrong? It happened to me and I still remember the night when I wanted to crawl in a hole and stay there.

At the time of this disaster we were living 8 miles south of Colorado Springs and a grocery store was far away. My 'ever-lovin' was the Sales Manager at one of the local radio stations. A new station manager and engineer had just been hired and the wife of the departing engineer was leaving.

On the spur of the moment my husband decided that we should give the departing wife a farewell party. He called me around 1:00 pm to inform me that we were giving a dinner party that night. The owner of the station would be a guest along with the others mentioned. A panic attack was imminent.

Murphy's Law kicked in and I was in for one of the worst nights in my life. My house needed a thorough cleaning and I only had five hours to prepare. Some of you efficient types may think that would be a breeze. You would have your house spotless, get out your best china, and have your hair done in that time. But I am a wreck when faced with having to entertain.

When my husband called with his bombshell I quickly did a mental search to think what I had on hand to serve six people. I had ingredients for a tossed salad, potatoes for baking and ingredients for a green bean casserole. I told Wayne to stop at the store and get six T-Bone steaks on his way home. We had just purchased our first bar-b-cue and we could do the potatoes and steaks on the grill. What could possibly be an easier menu?

I had the green bean casserole ready in a Pyrex dish, the potatoes wrapped in foil, and the table set when the guests arrived. Feeling quite competent at that point I felt I had things under control.

I instructed Wayne to light the charcoal fire and put the potatoes on to bake while our guests had cocktails. The steaks were on a cart ready to grill after the potatoes were done. So far so good. Then things began to unravel. Being neophytes we didn't know that the potatoes should be put in the coals. Wayne placed them on top of the rack.

Wayne kept going outside to check on the potatoes. At six-thirty they were still raw, seven o'clock and they weren't ready, eight o'clock - no luck. Meanwhile our guests were imbibing in 'tee many martoonies' and getting well oiled. Every time Wayne went out to check the spuds I put the green bean casserole in the oven. Finally at nine pm I knew the stupid potatoes had to be done so I wheeled the cart with the steaks out to the bar-b-cue to be broiled. Unfortunately, Wayne didn't see the cart and came back in the house. Did I mention that we had a German Shepherd dog named Heidi?

After taking the steaks outside I got the salad out to toss, put the green bean casserole in the oven for the umpteen time and asked Ginnie (the guest of honor) to toss the salad. She was, not to put too fine a point on it, pleasantly plastered and she put so muchTerragon vinegar in the salad that it was inedible. Wayne went out to do the steaks and discovered to his horror that, while he didn't see the steaks, Heidi sure did. She ate five T-Bone steaks and left us one for six people. Her sides were bulging and she looked like a balloon with legs.

I was ready to cry at this point and took the casserole out of the oven one last time. The dish had been heated and cooled so many times the it broke in two and the green bean mess fell all over the kitchen floor.

There were no Pizza parlors then and no fast food place where I could obtain something to feed my guests.
We made do with a baked potato each, a bite of steak, and a ruined salad.

You have heard the sick joke, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" Well, every time I saw one of those people who witnessed my catastrophe I was asked, "Has Heidi eaten any steaks lately?"

But it took years for me to forgive Wayne for hosting an impromptu dinner party.
In the final analysis this turned out to be the most memorable dinner party I ever gave.


Rain said...

Very funny-- in hindsight, I am sure. I have had a few dinners where nothing went right. It seems like the most memorable to me always involve a turkey and an oven that doesn't heat right.

Nancy said...


You are one of the best writers I know. I feel as if I was there at that dinner party drinking too many martinis and fighting the dog for a bit of steak.

Really fun post.....

Granny Annie said...

That is exactly why God created booze:)

kenju said...

I can understand your horror that night, but look how much pleasure it has given you over the years. I suspect your guests have attended no parties more memorable than yours!

I fall apart when entertaining, too.

Darlene said...

*Rain - I have had more than this one, but it was the biggest foul-up of all.

*Nancy - Thank you for the compliment. I needed that.

*Granny Annie - Tee Hee.

*Kenju - Yes, the things that go wrong are fodder for conversation pieces for years.

Kay Dennison said...

LOL You poor thing!!!! My ex knew better than to pull that on me. I don't do impromptu. On the other hand, it gave you a memorable srory to tell!!!

Friko said...

Is Heidi still around? If so, is she still stealing steaks?

I bet you're not the only one to remember this party, I bet your guests dined out on it for years, whenever they went to somebody's house to eat. "Do you remember the party where the dog ate all the steaks....."?

Thanks very much for joining me Darlene, I am honoured.

And Cheers too!

Joy Des Jardins said...

What a great story you tell Darlene. I know it was a disaster at the time...but I bet you've had your share of laughs over the years from it. It's one of those classics to be passed on through the ages!!

Ugich Konitari said...

I've had a few stories of my own , but this was just too much, with Heide devouring the stuff....LOL

Darlene said...

*Kay - My husband knew better to do impromptu again after that experience.

*Friko - Heidi almost left this world that night, but she did depart about 50 years ago.
My pleasure to join you.

*Joy - Yes, this story has presented fodder for conversation numerous times.

*Ugich - I think it was a bit much, too.

LadyLuz said...

Lovely story, Darlene. You had me laughing in recognition of some of my disasters with food and pets.

Tabor said...

I am laughing so hard at your discomfiture that it is impolite. But I am sure you now have perspective. What a great memory.

Darlene said...

*Lady Luz - Glad I could give you a 'memorable' laugh.

*Tabor - It happened so many moons ago that I barely remember the story.

Vagabonde said...

I bet you were stressed at that party – but that happens. I had a few problems like that several times and it makes good conversation – now, not then!