September 29th, 2012


On Parties

Today we hosted a party.  Our good friend nojojojo was having a Big Birthday and she has a small apartment and we've been known to host parties for friends in that situation and the food was being brought in and it was an afternoon affair, with many willing hands to clean up.  She showed up at 2:15 to set up, the food showed up at 4, closely followed by the guests.  We ate scones and tea sandwiches and mini shepherd's pies and sticky toffee pudding from Tea & Sympathy (Where the Sfnal Anglophiles of New York and the inner boroughs meet to drink tea and air their literary woes), drank English Breakfast tea and ever-multiplying bottles of wine, and talked and laughed and generally enjoyed ourselves.

The only strange thing in this scenario is that, in the six years we've lived in this apartment, we've never actually thrown a party for ourselves.  No house-warming, no music party, no let's-get-together-and-celebrate-whatever party.

Oh, we've thrown parties.  A play reading, a radio-play unveiling.  A wedding reception.  Numerous family gatherings around out-of-town family visits or the Jewish holidays. Sometimes we've done the cooking, mostly we haven't.  Nor have we determined the guest list.  In a couple of cases, I hardly knew a person in my living room.  Luckily, I'm perfectly comfortable with talking to people I don't know from Adam, and they were all artists of one kind or another, so making conversation wasn't hard.  Some of them have since become friends.  But still--not my gig.

It's not because we don't like giving parties. We're actually pretty good at moving the furniture to comfortably accommodate the largest number of bodies, both sitting and standing, in the least amount of space.  There's a sideboard for the drinks, the garbage goes under the edge of the dining table, which is turned sideways in the bay, with room for people to get to the food set out at the back.  No muss, very little fuss, and everybody pours their own wine.  It's a good party house, too, with space to stand and space to sit and plenty of places to put down your drinks.  And the house is a great party house.  Not only was it laid out for entertaining, back in 1910 when it was built, with lovely public rooms in the front, all flowing nicely into each other and making comfortable places for people to talk, but it seems to enjoy being entertained in.  I swear, it preens when guests walk in the door.  The air fills with a kind of welcoming excitement, a feeling of "It's Party Time!"  And, believe me, at least at the beginning of a party, we're usually running around like mad things, setting out plates of this and bowls of that, closer to panic than excitement--although that wears off soon enough.

So why do we give parties for others but not for ourselves?  Some of it, I think, is the perception that there isn't enough time.  When we're home, we should be writing, right?  Or doing laundry or taking care of business or making phone calls or answering email or doing one of the Projects on the Endless To-Do List.  Home is for work and (occasionally) for rest.  Out is for fun.  Also, making decisions is a lot more challenging for us than you'd think.  And yet, we can make them just fine, when it's for someone else.

And the point of all this?  We like giving parties.  We have friends who have invited us to parties over the 6 years we've lived in New York, friends we'd like to see in our house who have never been here.  It would make them happy if we had a party.  I like making my friends happy.  It would make the house happy, too.  It likes dinner parties, but it simply adores gatherings.  So we wouldn't be doing it for ourselves at all, would we?  We'd be doing it for our friends.  And the house.  So we should do it, right?

Does anybody else have this (extremely First-World) problem, or am I just a nut?

Today's party was lovely, by the way.  Many good conversations, both with people I knew and people I didn't, and so much help with clean-up that I'm left with nothing to do but write an LJ post.  The house is humming softly to itself.  Yeah, we should do it.