There is no doubt at all that I can be very entertaining*. I make people laugh, I tell a good story, and I can generally keep people amused, often even before the alcohol kicks in.
I am, however, a lousy entertainer. When it comes to giving dinner parties and lunches, I can be absolutely hopeless. The conversation may be flowing, and the laughs abounding, but the pasta will be limp, the chicken undercooked, the cake burned and the wine corked. If we can get the bottle open at all. Last time we actually lost the corkscrew.
Of course, I am capable of hosting a successful party. The key is whether or not I wish to impress my guests. Close friends who've seen me through good times and bad, who couldn't care if I made microwaved frankfurts & then dropped them on the floor, will get perfectly cooked lamb shanks and a date and chocolate pudding. But colleagues, my husband's business associates, and less familiar friends will experience every one of my hospitality disasters.
Take yesterday, for example, when we had the P family over for brunch. The P's have three little boys, all of whom are perfectly well behaved. Last time we went to their immaculate home Mrs P produced a three course meal, all perfectly presented and delicious.
Now, I don't normally compare myself to other people, but I found this somewhat intimidating, a thought I tried to push out of my head as I went shopping yesterday morning. I'd completely forgotten to make my famous home made brownies (I'm a busy mum with three kids, okay???) so bought cakes, as well as bagels, smoked salmon, fruit, avocado, eggs, and some cheeses.
I started the preparations by grilling the haloumi cheese. Immediately the fragrant smell wafted through the house, interruped by the less fragrant smell of something else, as the toddler needed to be rushed to the toilet. By the time I got back, the oven was on fire, the smoke alarm was sounding, and the haloumi had been sent to an untimely grave.
Quickly I moved on to the guacamole, trying to mash the avocado I retrieved from the fridge. Though I was sure it had been nice and soft, in reality it had the texture and pliability of a large golf ball, and dented the fork I was prodding it with. I gave up and threw it to the back of the fridge, where six hours later I found it nestled next to the beautifully ripe avocado I had bought for the purpose.
Having given up on guacamole and haloumi, I whipped up a fruit salad (yes, even I can do that), got hubby to pile the salmon on a plate, and proceeded to make my famous egg mayonaise (mushed up boiled egg mixed with... er... mayonaise).
Sadly, the eggs did not separate from their shells at all well, a fact I discovered just as the guests chose to arrive. In panic, I began ripping the eggs apart, salvaging what I could from the shells, and throwing the torn bits of egg into the mixing bowl. It may have tasted a little like egg mayonnaise, but it looked like something retrieved from my bunny's feed bowl.
We sat down at the table, their sons like three angelic soldiers, my kids like wild beasties recruited from a juvenile detention centre. The toddler threw her food on the floor, calling out 'Stupid! Stupid!' with demented glee. My daughter ate with her fingers, and my son yelled 'I don't want to sit at the boring table!' before smacking his sister and storming down to his room.
Then the orange juice I'd bought the day earlier turned out to be off, I forgot to make the coffee I'd offered, and the P's middle son, upon being excused from the table, walked into our glass door and hurt his nose.
Still, at least the bagels were excellent, the store-bought cake was scrumptious, and I have enough smoked salmon leftover for school lunches for a week. And though my guests may know I burned the cheese, stuffed up the guacamole, offered them off juice, forgot their coffee, and have badly brought up children, there still is one thing in my favour.
They know I clean my glass.
*Is there? Tell me if there is. I am desperate for people to like me, so any suggestions as to how I could be funnier / more interesting / better value for your reading minute will be gratefully accepted.
Have you had any entertaining disasters???