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.