So we invited some new friends, Jessica and Sergi, over for dinner the other night. My alter ego, Queen Virgo, had spent the minimum amount of time cleaning the house (approximately 14 hours), to ensure that the guests would be duly impressed and possibly even think that we live that way on a daily basis.
They arrived at the appointed hour, with a large bouquet of fresh flowers in hand. This is exactly why I like new friends: it is sort of like dating (the whole being-on-best-behavior thing) without having to worry if your mom will like them. I immediately clicked into hostess mode and asked if they would like a tour of the house. They politely declined.
I gave The Husband a desperate look—a look that said, “I vacuumed, dusted, bleached, and Windexed every crevice of this place for no reason?” He merely shrugged, but I could read the subtle nuances of his shrug and it said, “Isn’t it nice to have a clean house for ourselves, not necessarily just once a year for guests?”
I opened a bottle of wine in the kitchen and filled four glasses. Everyone waited in the living room for me.
“Oh, no, I don’t drink,” Sergi smiled politely as I set down his glass. This is exactly why I don’t like new friends: you find out sordid unpleasant details about them, such as their adamant and inexplicable refusal to get tipsy with you and subsequently laugh at all your jokes.
“Uh, umm, okay,” I rallied. “How about some soda or sparkling water instead?” I offered a tight smile, wondering if Sergi was a recovering alcoholic and I had somehow offended him by exposing him to the rest of us drinking wine, or if he didn’t drink for health-related reasons and he was silently judging me and my unhealthy Chardonnay-drinking lifestyle, or if he was a religious zealot and counting how many extra days I would rot in Hell.
I glanced in Jessica's direction, searching for a clue into her boyfriend's behavior. She merely sipped her wine and murmured something about it having notes of pear and apple.
As it was only 6 PM, Tall and Short darted in and out of the room at various points to show off assorted toys and basically confirm that they were still the center of the universe. Jessica and Sergi don’t have children, so they regarded ours like they were some sort of exotic pets.
“What do they eat?” whispered Jessica with a bemused expression on her face. “Will they eat the same things you eat?”
For a moment, I considered telling her they eat only special worms with notes of pear and apple purchased from an online pet supply company.
The Husband jumped in and said, “If it were up to them, they’d probably eat ice-cream and cookies all day, but they’ve been known to eat spaghetti or a hamburger.”
Dinner went surprisingly well. Tall and Short were fairly charming, and in recognition of our guests, actually refrained from throwing pasta noodles at each other or the cat. Even though Sergi didn’t disclose the secret reason for his aversion to alcohol (Jessica confided in her “thank you” email the next day that he simply “didn’t like the taste”), he was sincere and engaging and told hilarious stories about growing up in Europe and his previous jobs in the political arena. Jessica was quieter, more observant, but she would say precisely the right thing at precisely the right moment, leaving everyone roaring at her wit.
Ah, yes, I thought, this is exactly why I like new friends: they’re fun.