Come on over for pizza was the invitation. What does that conjure up in your mind? A seat in front of a huge TV, a coffee table and its enrivons obscured by a gaggle of cardboard boxes, empty beeer bottles standing sentry on the floor, and crumpled up paper napkins stained with tomato sauce?
Well, you haven't been to a pizza
party with older women, those rare females who remember when the act of wearing
white gloves, a hat and pearls was more than just a Halloween costume.
Despite efforts by a wily Y chromosome to be the fox in the henhouse,
the group remained unpenetrated by boy germs throughout the evening.
Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, testosterone overwhelms
estrogen [the two drops left]. The "girls" would have reverted to old behaviors, i.e.,
flirting, so no boys allowed.
Everyone gathered in the living
room prior to game time for conversation and a designer plate of gaily
arranged Carr's table water crackers, surrounded by slices of imported
brie [which I guess is redundant, but I couldn't help myself],
accompanied by a bowl of deliciously seasoned gourmet peanuts and
another of sweet grape tomatoes for those with health requirements. And
for your beverage of choice, a Waterford or Riedel glass.
How was your day? the hostess
inquired. Old habits die hard, or take on an ironic twist. That classic
query, asked by a woman who knew what it was like to stay home, raise
children, and bring meat, potatoes and a smile to the table at the end
of the day, elicited a flood of complaints foreign to most men.
Changing hair color, getting new hairdos, and caring for an elderly
parent topped the charts. Struggling with the vagaries of a digital
camera caused one technically challenged senior citiizen [that's also redundant] more than a little consternation.
Enthusiasm for the teams was
mixed, with the oldest guest lamenting the loss of the "short shorts" that were replaced by
those long and baggy things ushered in during the Michael Jordan era,
itself almost a generation ago. A return to those halcyon days of yesteryear and she
might consider becoming a real fan once again.
Joining the group before we
adjourned to the "game" room were two small dogs, the hallmarks of any
older female gathering, providing the entertainment that small children
usually offer. Several times the little poochies were scooped up for
hugs and loves, while they worked the room like furry dustbusters
vacuuming up whatever crumbs might have dropped on the floor.
Preparations for the pizza and a salad to accompany it were underway
with the lighting of the oven. The very thought of serving, let alone
preparing a salad is an anathema to most pizza party hosts. The hostess
excused herself to lay out the buffet, joined by a
volunteer sous chef who offered to contribute her culinary skills to
insure the success of the fresh greens.
Finding comfortable spots in front of the TV, our feet warmed by the
Persian rug, the rest of us chatted
merrily about the tournament so far. Finding out that Gonzaga was not
the name of a famous Indian chief was a revelation to some. Noting the
football player size of the entire Boston College team caused some
admiring gasps in others. The more knowledgeable among us explained the
intricacies of telling the difference between home and away teams,
while the neophytes guessed what the teams' initials meant.
Dinner was served. The mere announcement adds a grace note of decorum
don't you think? Okay it was frozen pizza from Costco, but the buffet
was pure Martha, with lovely Italian earthenware, cloth napkins, real,
not plastic, flatware, a delicious argula salad, and red wine in
crystal glasses, so it could breathe properly.
All agreed that the pizza met our standards for a good crispy crust and
marvelous cheese. The flavor was no doubt enhanced by having it
served on clean plates.
Dessert was passed around by our hostess afterward. She managed the
difficult technique of presenting the sweets with one hand while
offering us a glass dessert plate simultaneously with the other. A far
cry from the food tossing so prevalent at most pizza parties.
Did I mention we were treated to baklava, which she had spent
considerable time choosing just for us, along with the wine and salad,
all of which, like the pizza, were bought at Costco.
Times have changed. Women work like men. Men finally figured out that
wasn't such a bad deal. Marriage is on the wane. Partners are on the
rise. Furniture can be rented. Meals have been outsourced. Dishes
aren't washed, they're thrown away. Placemats are plastic. So are the
utensils. Silver and china languish in their packing boxes, waitiing
for the kind of parties that may now be virtually extinct.
But like the early Christians who celebrated the gospel in secret,
there are women who still remember what it means to bring out the good
stuff for their friends.