A while ago I was invited to a 40th birthday celebration by a kind-of friend. She had rented a hall, and the invitation read ‘bring your own meat ‘n booze’ and then, beneath the picture of a disco ball and a couple dancing, a request in small print that everyone bring along ‘a salad of (our) choice.’ A salad of our choice? That we have to make? Are you kidding me? I thought BYO meat was a bit cheeky, but a side dish? Okay, that’s just rude. How about I bring my own chair to sit in, cutlery and the fridge? Or, how about I just don’t come.
Thing is, past a certain age that starts with an ‘f’, a major incentive to finding a sitter, paying said sitter and standing around in heels all night is the fact that I don’t have to drive to the supermarket and drag two bored children around the meat aisle. I don’t have to slice cucumber, toast seeds or make vinaigrette because you, the host, have presumably done this for me. It’s what is called ‘hosting.’ And that’s what is in it for me.
Yes, I get to drink wine and make conversation, but that I can do in the comfort of my own kitchen and what’s more I can wear slippers. But make me bring everything I’m going to eat and drink, and I’m not going to come to your party. Now, I understand not everybody can afford to feed and water 50 guests so, by all means, let us bring wine, and lots of it. I’ll even throw in a bottle of Jose Cuervo to get the party started. But you have known for, well, forty years that this occasion was imminent, so maybe you should have put some of that Guess jeans money aside so that we, your friends, didn’t have to cater for your party.
I am all for entertaining having become more casual. If we still – god forbid – had to come up with three courses plus canapés we would never, ever see our friends. I say, bring on the braais, the curries, the takeaway pizzas – anything that does away with undue hassle and stress. But if you decide you want to host something, get into the goddamn kitchen.