Every year we attend a birthday dinner party for Hubby's best friend, Peter. And it's the same every year. That would be okay if it were a pleasant evening, but . . .
Peter's parents host the birthday dinner. And I've been fighting it for as long as I can remember. The first problem is that Peter's birthday is January 16th. My own dear Number One Son's birthday is January 17th. It never fails that Peter's mom wants to have dinner on the very same night that we want to celebrate with Number One. After all this time (and Number One has been around for 22 years!) she hasn't quite caught on to the scheduling conflict.
The second problem is the chairs. Peter's mother sets a beautiful table and cooks a lovely meal. But it's rendered unenjoyable because of the rickety chairs around her dining room table. One sits cautiously. One barely dares to move enough to reach the water goblet. And if one had gained a few extra pounds several years ago, one might suffer some sort of debilitating knee injury that wouldn't go away for months because one spent the meal trying not to actually sit in the rickety chair beneath one's fat ass.
Logistics aside, I don't know Peter's parents very well. I am uncomfortable in most social situations and find it difficult to make decent conversation. This inadequacy is compounded by the fact that these folks are furiously political. I have no quibble with someone who is passionate about what they believe, I just think it makes for lousy dinner conversation when the guests feel like they've been kidnapped and taken to an indoctrination camp.
The other dinner attendees are always some combination of Peter's girlfriend, Peter's sister, her husband and their grown children. I really like these people. And, though I am uncomfortable around Peter's parents, I genuinely like and respect them. The whole group is cosmopolitan, erudite, well-read and well-spoken.
So you'd think I could politely overcome the annual scheduling fiasco (and those blasted chairs!) and allow a little grace for two opinionated folks in their 80's. You'd think I could just show up and enjoy myself, right?
Wrong. Because there's that one last little difficulty that causes one evening every January to be the most unbearable eternity! The little difficulty's name is Amy.
Amy is a standard poodle. Amy is a house dog. Amy is friendly. And I? am the perfect height so that Amy's nose fits directly in my crotch without her having to stretch.
I'm not talking about a mannerly little sniff of greeting. As soon as I walk through the door, she makes a beeline for me and just stands there. Nose in. It's not that I'm all that special down there, it's more a matter of I'm new and she is already well acquainted with everyone else's junk.
I stand uncomfortably in the entry with Amy pinning me to the door. Peter's mother greets me and offers to take my coat. MY COAT??!! How about taking your freaking dog???? She laughs at Amy's "antics" and mildly scolds her. I'd like to not so mildly kick her. And her dog.
I have tried the tactic of turning just a bit sideways and petting the dog (as though I don't mind this embarrassing attack) but pet dander infuriates the eczema on my hands and I spend the rest of the evening with intolerable itchiness.
I have tried the tactic of not-so-very-gently pushing the dog away. But I end up feeling like such a heel for being mean to this poor, dumb creature when it's her masters that are to blame.
Sweet hubby has learned to come to the rescue. He has learned to distract the dog by showing her affection. And he spends every blessed moment of the party patiently petting and playing with the dog so as to keep her the hell away from me.
In accordance with my ongoing crusade to broadcast important public service announcements, I offer you this advice: When hosting a dinner party, it's probably socially unacceptable to allow your pet to molest your guests. Or maybe I'm just being picky.