I'm a very particular person when it comes to playing hostess. Just a few weeks ago a friend's husband said that I remind him of obsessively perfect hostess Bree on Desperate Housewives.
I took it as the best compliment I'd received in weeks.
It's true: I love to throw a party. I hoard obscure glassware designed for specific cocktails and have been known to serve cordials after a meal. I'm the sort that buys endless varieties of table linens and both irons and uses them frequently. Place cards and seating charts are a particular weakness of mine - I think I've only had people over once without using them. (Let's just say that it won't ever happen again.)
My hostessing compulsion is not without its flaws. I insist on doing all of the cleaning myself since, in my mind, I'm the only one who can do it properly. I make overly complicated meals that require days of prep and shopping. I make spreadsheets.
My need to control the minutiae is great.
I'm the result of being raised in a military family with a mother from the South who liked to throw parties. My ideas about what makes a good hostess and a good party are seen as largely archaic in my circle of friends.
Because it was the military there was oodles of delightful protocol to be followed and even casual events could turn formal in a second. (Oh, how I adore protocol.) My mother never once extended an invitation without receiving a snappy response, often in writing.
Me on the other hand? Out here in the civilian world, responding to an invitation is largely seen as optional. And honestly, I don't really get that. It is supremely annoying and incredibly rude for reasons that I would like to think are obvious, but must not be since people seem to have such a hard time with it.
Are they waiting for a better offer? Are they being rude on purpose? Would they like to ensure that there aren't enough cocktails to go around? WHAT IS IT?
WHY CAN'T YOU TELL ME IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE THERE?!?!
I'm currently planning a baby shower for about 30 people and am having a difficult time with about a third of the guest list responding. What's doubly frustrating is that even when people try and respond, they still do it wrong.
A woman called yesterday and said she was "calling to RSVP for the party." But she declined to say what her response was. Attending? Not attending? I had to call her back and ask her to be more specific.
Most people don't actually know that R.S.V.P. means "please respond" in French. It's often incorrectly tossed around as a modern phrase that means "Yes, I am coming."
To combat that mentality, the language on the invitation cleverly avoided the phrase and stated: "the favor of a response is requested before May 10." You would think that would be clear. It's clear, right?
Today someone responded to the shower invitation, but asked if she could bring her 6 and 9 year-old daughters. To an afternoon baby shower for ladies with cocktails, chatting, petit fours and gifts. She said she thought "they would think it is neat."
I think she didn't want to hire a baby sitter. I told her that she was welcome to bring them if she thought they would be entertained with chatting and cocktails with the adults for several hours - we have no games planned and no children's activities. Perhaps she'll take the hint.
I hosted a party a few years ago wherein a woman declined the invitation to the honoree - not me, the hostess! The one who sent the invitation! The one whose phone number she was CLEARLY directed to call! In doing so, she felt that her regret wasn't "official" but was enough to satisfy the requirement.
She showed up to a seated luncheon and didn't have anywhere to sit. Really, could she not have called me? Is the telephone so difficult to master?
Part of me wanted to rub her face in it and make her uncomfortable - to teach her a lesson of sorts - and part of me just wanted to make sure she had a good time and not make a scene (there I go again - being a good hostess and making sure everyone has fun).
I opted to pull out a plate and cram her at the table full of people I didn't like as passive-aggressive punishment.