[Editors' note - This was originally intended to be a side note @ side bar but it was too long. Not really related to parenthood, but we gave some wiggle room to Daddio this week. Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading.]
When the boys and the girls split up for sex education in fifth grade, what the hell do the teachers say to the girls about what happens if they do not bring an elaborate combination of appetizers or hors d’ouevres when they go to a party? Do they become branded with a hot iron or something? Is their name written down in a book called “Awful women who don’t bring good appetizers to parties so you should hate them forever!” that circulates at secret women’s clubs? Where does this hellish state of anxiety originate from?
Before I can even get the words out about some party that we’ve been invited to, the wife is already scanning recipes on the Internets and polling friends with blanket e-mails from her Blackberry about any recommendations.
Me: [INSERT FRIEND] is having a party next month. It’s gonna be awesome. I wonder if he’ll get an ice luge so that we can -
Wife: WHAT ARE WE GONNA BRING? I can’t do the bread bowl because I think I did that last time they had a party. Maybe I’ll do that shrimp dish that [INSERT FRIEND] made at my girl’s night last month. But oh no, [INSERT FRIEND] was at the same girl’s night and she’ll probably be at the party, so I can’t make that dish.
Me: (wincing noticeably and then groaning loudly) What? Who the hell cares? (exasperated) We’ll just bring booze or a bag of chips. Or something.
Wife: (indignant) We are NOT showing up with a bag (strong intonation on this word, like she was spitting out a piece of spoiled food) of CHIPS! (ending the sentence with serious disgust, as if she was Kate Gosselin describing one of Jon's current girlfriends.)
And so it goes. For every single cookout, birthday party, play date, couples dinner, or even just watching a football game – this conversation inevitably arises in some shape or form.
Granted, before marriage, I wallowed in a Neanderthal state when it came to party etiquette crap. For example, I didn’t know that writing “plus one” on a wedding RSVP even though my invite had no “and guest” on it, was inappropriate. Woops, my bad. Even worse, my go-to trick for any party regardless of the occasion was asking if anyone saw my bulldog before I dropped my pants and ran around on all fours barking to give a description of what he looked like.
So when it came to attending a party at a buddy’s house, I thought showing up with a 12-pack and a bag of Doritos was a nice touch. The furthest thing from my mind was deliberating between picking up pastries from a really cute patisserie in the South End, or buying cookies at Joseph’s Bakery on K Street. I certainly didn’t spend three hours using foreign kitchen appliances to make a complicated fruit dip while obsessing whether the partygoers would like it and then ask 20 questions after the party about how it tasted and whether I saw other people eating it.
What the hell is wrong with bringing a bag of Cool Ranch? Everyone likes the ‘Ritos. They’re like crack mixed with tortilla chips.
Honestly, can someone break it down for me? Is there like a Martha Stewart blackball list of partygoer-food-bringers? If so, I have a feeling I'm on the men's version. By the way, sorry to anyone about the whole adding "plus one" to my wedding invitation! Awkward. Anyone bold enough to confess that I did this to them? Yikes.