Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Minute Notice

Last week amid all of the Leotrix drama Daniel informed me that he had invited some people over for dinner for the next day.

Daniel: Oh, by the way, last Sunday I told some people to come for dinner on Thursday.

Eli: Ok. And when were you planning on letting me know about this?

Daniel: Tomorrow afternoon. You're welcome for letting you know even earlier than I had planned.

Here's the problem with Daniel's EXCESSIVELY issued dinner invitations: Daniel doesn't cook.

I cook. I'm not fabulous but I'm experienced and above-average at it thanks to a lifetime of tutelage in the Bob and Cathie School of Cooking and years of my own initiative trial and error. And I can pull off a pretty good meal now in my old age. Cooking has been an especially big hobby for me in Palau since it gets dark early and I like to eat my feelings anyway, so I've been able practice my craft.

Daniel doesn't really cook. Don't get me wrong. He's a great helper. But, like, in the "it's shake-n-bake, and I HELPED!" kind of way. He bakes exceedingly well, which I don't do at all. We have very defined food preparation roles. It's a gentleman's agreement of sorts.

When Daniel invites people over for dinner, it means that he is volunteering me to cook. Which I don't usually mind. But I appreciate some notice.

What Daniel has failed to realize from time to time is that it can be pretty stressful to throw together a meal for other people in the middle of the week. Much of this is because I'm a perfectionist and spend way too much time and effort trying to get things in order that nobody will ever notice, like dusting the tops of cabinets before anyone comes over, even though they'll never see them anyway.

The party planning perfectionism is genetic. Thanks for that one, Cathie.

I'll never forget when in 2007 I threw a Christmas party that I stressed about and prepared for for several days. When two of my sisters showed up to it, one of them looked around and said in a critical voice, "it looks like mom in here."

Last Thursday was a particularly bad day for such a thing because I had a very important appointment for the hour before the dinner time and so wouldn't be able to be home to cook. It doesn't matter what the appointment was. Never you mind. STOP ASKING.

Ok, fine. It was a facial. I get facials. So sue me. Ever since moving to Palau, my skin has been breaking out like I'm 13 years old and ohmygosh is this puberty!?

I reminded Daniel of this appointment and started to let him have it when he interrupted with, "I can do the cooking this time! I'm not worthless!"

Suddenly I had 12,000 flashbacks to all of the creative cooking suggestions Daniel has offered while "helping." These include eating chicken before checking to see that it cooked all the way through and completely smothering absolutely anything and everything with applesauce.

But I knew that I couldn't be there to do it myself, so I quickly planned a meal that would be easy to cook: chicken and rice. I wrote out detailed instructions on a sticky note, purchased the items, and then talked him through the steps.

I got home ten minutes before our guests were supposed to arrive to find Daniel reading a book, and the meal only half prepared.

Eli: What is happening here!?

Daniel: Everything is under control.

Eli: They're going to be here in ten minutes! You didn't even tidy up!?

Daniel: Oh, so I have to do THAT too?! I guess I'll just be in charge of everything today!

Eli: Daniel, they are on their way right now!

Daniel: We don't even know if they're coming.

Eli: What do you mean we don't know if they're coming?

Daniel: Well, I invited them at church on Sunday but I don't think I ever got a firm answer from them.

Eli: Why wouldn't you confirm before going to all this trouble?

Daniel: Manners, Eli. I don't want to pressure them. If they want to come, they'll come and if they don't want to come, they won't come.

Eli: That is the most absurd, unproductive, ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life!

Sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself that Daniel and I have the complete opposite personality types and that it's ok that he doesn't share my incessant need to have organized plans that are carried out punctually because instead he has the equally valuable quality of . . . whatever it is flaky people have.

Ok. Daniel is not "flaky." I went too far there. He's very responsible in his own special way. The problem is that he is flaky in ways that he perceives as only affecting him (and unfortunately he now includes me as a part of that "him"). As a result, we are late for EVERYTHING we have to go to together. And this drives me INSANE. Because Bob taught me when I was a child that if you're not sitting at an event 45 minutes before it starts, bored out of your mind, you might as well not attend the event at all. This, I cannot shake.

I immediately turned on the high-productivity switch, which I haven't had to access too many times in Palau, and prepared a giant meal, cleaned the apartment, made phone calls to confirm the appointment, and all while Daniel "helped."

The dinner turned out nicely, and fortunately our guests arrived 30 minutes late because of some confusion when Daniel set the appointment (imagine that).

When they left a few hours later, Daniel plopped down onto the couch and let out a sigh of relief.

Daniel: Boy, that was sure a lot of work. But I think we pulled it off.

Yes, Daniel. "We" sure did.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Yesterday's post made me cry and feel special. Today's post made me laugh and feel happy. I LOVE Stranger.

  2. Eli, for the love of Leotrix, I have read all your posts on this blog and I just have to beg you to please stop saying all of the sudden. It's all of A sudden. While we're at it, you could stop writing "no one" altogether. Thank you very much. You look especially hot today.

    1. All of a sudden? How have I gone this far in life without knowing this? I blame you all for failing to correct me earlier.

      As for "noone," I will NOT stop writing it that way. Because it is absurd that "nobody" is a word and "noone" is not. I cannot be talked out of this. Every time spell checker tells me to fix it, I scoff. I hope we can still be friends when scientists discover that noone is a word in 2035.

    2. Anonymous is correct (and I must say, would never intentionally steer you wrong) regarding "a sudden" vs. "the sudden".

      As for "noone," Eli, I agree with you that it is absurd that THAT spelling is not equal to "nobody". HOWEVER, if you look at it ALL BY ITSELF, does it not strike you as a "Ye Olde Fashioned" spelling of NOON? And THAT, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why we separate the No from the One.

      Thankyouverymush. I'll be here all week.

    3. I too say 'all of the sudden'... 28 years of saying that, don't think I'll be changing it now! lol

    4. OK . . . First you tell me "supposably" isn't a word, that eggs aren't dairy, and now "All of the Sudden" isn't right??? What else have a been going about all wrong for 24 years? Oh and I agree That "noone" is not a word. It just doesnt look right.

    5. If enough people say something incorrectly enough times, doesn't it become acceptable? For example: sherbet (there is only ONE r). So many people pronounce it sherbert (like fingernails on chalkboard) that it is now on the packaging for the sherbet ice cream of some brands. Do other countries do this? Or are we the only ones to butcher our language?

    6. Once up the barrel, twice downtheside. :-)

  3. "instead he has the equally valuable quality of . . . whatever it is flaky people have."


  4. Eli, it's a nod to your fantastic storytelling that no one ever corrected you before on "all of the sudden" and "noone". I'm particularly critical of such things (though even I would have let "noone" slide) and I didn't even notice!! I'm too busy reading the stories/journal entries. So, pat yourself on the back and an "air 5" from me. Since I can't see you to smack your hand. Or back.

  5. I take back what I said yesterday about the near hero worship of Daniel. Well played. Twice up the barrel, once down the side.

  6. It's like you and I are the same person! Why can't people be punctual? It's really not that hard. My husband takes it upon himself to invite his adult son and new girlfriend ( cuz his girlfriend is always new to us) for dinner and let's me know the day before, even though the invite was over a week ago. We don't live close to a grocery store and it requires a special trip and of course we don't ever have enough of anything to just whip up something ( the kid can eat!). So frustrating!
    Noone really understands the kind of pressure we put on ourselves to make sure our guests are happy!

  7. I full on panic if I'm only going to be on time too. I have to be early. We always show up awkwardly early for parties. In fact people sometimes tell us a later starting time knowing we'll be there super early.

  8. Flaky Daniel. Hahaha.
    I badly needed this laugh as a break from a cranky study session. Thanks again Eli.

  9. Have you seen The Odd Couple? You and Daniel are the spitting image of Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau.

    My favorite line from the whole movie is "You leave me little notes on my pillow. I told you a hundred-and-sixty-eight times I can't stand little notes on my pillow! 'We are all out of Corn Flakes. -F.U.' It took me three hours to figure out that 'F.U.' was Felix Ungar!" -Oscar Madison

    If you haven't seen it, you really should find a way and make it happen. It's a classic. Also...I don't remember the rules...but no one is technically one word as if it was noone. So go crazy!

    1. I had the same thought of their resemblance to The Odd Couple. Fantastic movie :)

  10. One of my very good friends is the exact opposite of me. I absolutely have to be punctual, have everything just so, blah blah blah if I'm entertaining, being a girl scout troop leader, working, anything! She's all "it'll get done." I'm usually, "yeah, it'll get done when I get it done!" But I love her! She makes me breathe and laugh. It's all good.

  11. Are you sure you're both not girls? I swear it's like I'm reading a woman's thoughts.


  12. ... I'm tempted to change my vote on the cat poll now.

  13. Being late is unacceptable to me. I'm patient(ish) when other people are late, but I freak the hell out when I'm made late because of someone else's poor choices. *Please bless that I marry a guy who believes in punctuality*

    I'm glad for you that Daniel was such a big help!

  14. I too have the crazy perfectionist clean the house mom who ingrained that in me. Mom would also stress out so bad before people came over that she usually had a breakdown and we had to keep the phone away from her so she wouldn't call and cancel the "party." I have little stress freak outs where I wonder why I wanted to have a party in the first place, but then I ask my oh so chill husband for help and the stress melts away. Until my mom arrives and checks the dust on top of the cupboards!