If Life is a Contest to See Who’s The Most Pamperedest Chef, You Win. I Give.
What is it about getting older that makes us feel like we need to slap a theme on something in order to make it fun?
Take, for example, renovated house reveal party my bosses are planning. It can’t just be a classy affair with an amuse bouche or two, some tapas, and a cocktail bar — it has to have a theme. “Sangrias at Sunset” sounds simple enough, but in reality it requires coordinating the food, music, and even colors to make everything fit a predetermined Spanish vibe, even though nothing about this home in a historic downtown Fayetteville neighborhood has anything to do with Spain.
It’s undue stress, I tell you, and if they’re not careful, the end result will likely be some mishmashed medley of weak catered sangria with cheap wine, bright garish table cloths, and streaming mariachi music.
The house will be beautiful, but I wonder if anyone will see it.
Themes can be fun when they’re original, like the “Ugly Sweater Parties” from a decade ago. But did anyone notice the mass surge of ugly sweater parties during this past holiday season? It became the it thing to do, and suddenly the act of hunting down an ugly sweater became a chore — it no longer entailed a quick trip to the Goodwill, but an all-out hunt for the best worst sweater in town, sometimes requiring the payment of retail prices in department stores which were stocked with colorful Santa and reindeer knits designed specifically, it seemed, for parties honoring the art of the ugly sweater.
It seems like all adult social parties, once we reach a certain age, have to be designed around a theme. Especially the social parties exclusively for women.
What is it about turning the big THREE-OH that apparently makes us lose our ability to gather with a group of women to enjoy some good drinks, sincere laughs, and stimulating conversation without the crutch of a theme?
Or worse, without guilting each other into buying something?
Every single women-only event I’ve been invited to since turning 29, with the exception of the book club and a much-loved “girls’ night out” or two with former colleagues, has been a ruse to get me to buy something I neither want nor need. From jewelry to bags to kitchen gadgets to chip dips, my social world has turned into a support network for home-based
pyramid schemes businesses. I can no longer go to my local wine shop without feeling a twinge of guilt for not purchasing bottles from someone with a home-based wine selling business. I can’t make my own fresh ingredient soup without thinking about the just-add-water bag of powder still sitting in the back of my drawer. I can’t comparison shop for health products. Test my own makeup. Buy my own non-fugly patterned lunch bags. I can’t even purchase inexpensive Wal-Mart brand room fresheners because they might soil the specialized plug-in warmers that cost me a 2-week grocery budget and a contract for my first-born child.
I don’t mind supporting my friends, but when I’m guilted into attending these “parties” where I’m forced to fake enthusiasm for a collapsible polka-dot thermal picnic cooler and spend $50 on powdered drink mixes that will be doomed to take up back-of-pantry real estate until we move, I’m not gonna lie — I find myself wondering how much Im supposed to spend in order to qualify my friendship.
I say this not to insult those who earn a living supporting these companies or those who genuinely enjoy the products and purchase on a regular basis.
I say this because I’m concerned about the fact that these are the only gatherings that seem to exist after a certain age — these, and baby showers. And I’m sorry, but unless they involve Kahlua and stroller races, I’m really not going to get excited about them.
Why can we not get together simply for the sake of getting together? Why can we not gather at a friend’s home and cook a collective meal? Talk about the books we’ve read? Watch the latest Nicholas Sparks film and outwardly ridicule the main characters while secretly wishing we were them?
Why does there always have to be a premise?
The next time you attend one of these themed gatherings, ask yourself if you’re having fun.
And if you think that you are, ask yourself if you really are, or if you’re just faking it.
Because there’s something that happens as we get older and more domestic. Something bad.
Somehow somewhere along the line, we start telling ourselves that it’s okay to fake it.
That fun isn’t fun unless it’s forced.
That we can’t really laugh, because our laugh is too loud.
Our jokes are too crude.
And our meatballs must suck because there are still some left on the tray.
We leave feeling inadequate. Ridiculed. Or the coolest member of a club we never wanted to join.
And when I think about it, I realize that I have no energy for pretense. There are too many fun things to do. Fantastic people to meet. Wonders to experience.
So maybe it’s the domestiphobe in me, but I really don’t think I want to do this anymore. This faking it thing.
So I think that I’ll stop.
Because really, if my laugh is too loud, then I’ll stop getting invited.
And I’ll have more time for the people and things that make me laugh for real.
What about you? Think you have a little domestiphobia in you?