I told him to invite some of his friends from London over sometime when they were visiting.
I teased him that he must be embarrassed of me because he never did invite anyone.
Then he did invite them. Yesterday.
Chris and Rob, co-workers from London were in town and Adam invited them over for dinner. Then he called another co-worker, Jean-Michel (who is French and I may or may not be spelling his name correctly). Jean-Michel lives in Mukilteo with his American wife and teenage daughters. Adam invited him and his wife.
We talked about what to serve. Our kids voted for their British favorites, bangers and mash or fish and chips. I told the kids they’d be gone babysitting (Braeden) or upstairs watching a movie having already eaten dinner (Emma and Mark) so their opinions didn’t matter too much. We decided to go “American” and had Mexican food. I came up with a dessert (brownie sundaes), which is always the most important part of the meal to me.
Then I started to feel nervous. Thanks to the steady stream of dinner guests we had growing up, I’m not intimidated by having people over for dinner. I actually really enjoy it. Strangers for dinner is a whole different matter though. I’m mostly scared to death of strangers.
My mother-in-law stopped by to see my rearranged furniture. I told her of my fears. She said my house looked great so not to worry.
Adam said, “She’s not worried about the house. She’s worried about the people.”
I called Janet for reinforcement. I told her I needed a pep talk and she gave me one.
I took a deep breath and set the table. I wondered how it would go. Jean-Michel’s wife (who it turned out was named Michelle which sort of delighted me) works for the Democratic Party in Washington. I wondered what she’d think of my stay-at-home Mormon wife life. I wondered what she’d think when she knew I took peculiar a step further and home schooled.
Adam went to Seattle to pick up the men from London (to spare them an enormous cab fare). I was humming along with my preparations when he called. He was almost home and he’d talked to Jean-Michel and they were also on their way and bringing their two teenage daughters.
Our six capacity table was set for…six. We’d have enough food but where would we sit everyone? I had to come up with an answer quick. I didn’t want to put them at the counter. Our six-foot long folding table was too big. I raced upstairs and tossed everything off Adam’s desk, which used to be our table in a former, childless life. I enlisted Emma and Mark’s help to carry it downstairs. I looked frantically for a tablecloth for the new table that would match the one already set. No luck. I whisked plates, napkins, silverware, cups and lighted candles off the table. I whipped out new tablecloths, reset the tables, found new napkins that matched, found new napkin rings that matched. I finished just as Adam and Chris and Rob walked in the door.
Jean-Michel and his family arrived close behind. He (of course…he’s French!) came with two bottles of wine.
We sat down to dinner, explaining we don’t drink wine. They thought that was fine (more for them?) and asked for a bottle opener. I scanned my drawer and pulled out a can opener and presented it to Jean-Michel with my apologies. He sent one of his daughters to the car for a bottle opener. Apparently he doesn’t mess around when it comes to wine.
We ate our beef or shrimp tacos and the table was a lively convivial place. I started to breathe.
The accents (French and British) enchanted me. I especially loved how Rob said, “crikey”. Michelle was warm and friendly and didn’t even miss a beat when she asked me where our kids go to school and I told her upstairs. I found out her ancestors were Mormon pioneers and she still has family in Delta, UT. She told me their names in case all Mormons know each other. Estelle and Margot, their daughters were smart and charming.
Altogether it was very nice.
After dinner we played games. We played Catch Phrase, boys against girls. We girls had the advantage of all being American. Adam had the word “Columbus” he was trying to get them to guess. He said, “Christopher ______”
Chris immediately yelled, “Robin!”
We also played our favorite game Hoopla, which employs a certain amount of pop culture. we all did pretty well...especially Jean-Michel when he had to draw the Eiffel Tower...but we did have our cultural hiccups.
At one point Chris gave up completely on the Yankees and told Rob he’d have to guess it (the word was comic books) and he started saying British comics, Dan Dare, Daredevil…
I was glad we stepped outside our normal circle and made some new friends. Even with our blaring differences we found a lot to talk about: good chocolate, education, the British Library, Seurat, how to maximize shipping costs from Amazon.com. Good stuff.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one” - C.S. Lewis