The other weekend I invited two couples for dinner. I always am apprehensive about entertaining; I worry about the menu and my dubious cooking ability. Although I’ve set aside the “good” china acquired long before my marriage to Rick, I pulled out our crystal and my grandfather’s flatware. The table did look lovely, covered with a fresh white tablecloth and my new teal and white dinnerware.
If company is coming, I want my house to be spotless, even in the rooms in which no one will venture (rather like the age-old maternal admonition to wear clean underwear in case one has to go to the hospital). When Rick was healthy and couldn’t find a legitimate excuse for a solo motorcycle ride, he helped me clean house. He was great at cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming, which made the whole effort go so much faster.
When guests arrived for our infrequent dinner parties, they usually expected a drink first. Rick didn’t drink hard liquor, so a red and a white wine were generally the only options. I always asked Rick to get the drinks so that I could focus on the appetizers and dinner – and in twenty years I don’t think he ever, ever did what I asked. He was an extrovert, he loved people and he loved to talk. He’d welcome guests into our home and immediately engage in conversation, drinks forgotten. I’d get them.
After the parties ended, he stepped up his game. Quickly he’d clear the table and then roll up his sleeves to tackle the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink. We’d be done with clean-up faster than I could imagine.
Now it’s all on me. I sit at the head of my dining table with my guests seated along the sides; across from me is an empty chair where Rick should be. But it’s OK — I’m with friends, I no longer have to wish Rick had a wife with better culinary skills and I muddle through. It was a good evening.