Well, it’s that time of year again - and each year I vow to “take it easy”…”I don’t want to burn out” with the partying. But, people come out of the woodwork, invites are plentiful and the warm and wafting smell of mulled wine and gingerbread is just too delicious to resist.
Be it an intimate dinner party, cocktails, or meeting pals for drinks at the local establishment, merriment and good will are in vast supply - and we pencil and pen each other in to be accommodating lest one feel left out in all the joy. Christmas cards are bought with haste so that we won't forget a friend, bottles of wine for the hosts - it’s all good. We’re all on the good list. We can do this.
…but what happens when you’re in a social situation having a friendly conversation one moment and suddenly in the next you find yourself hurled under a busload of crazy?
…shocking, surreal, hurtful and numbing, to say the least. I for one go into survival mode and that begins with doing a quick scan of the room to see if I can retrieve that semi-expensive hostess gift on my way out.
At a recent gathering and during a conversation with newly met acquaintances, I suddenly found myself on the receiving end of an unprovoked tirade. I was gobsmacked into silence as were the two friends standing by witnessing the poisonous scene, but I couldn't help stepping outside of myself to watch the situation in all it's garish, sad, tinsel bedecked Fellini splendor. Saying something in retaliation really only works in books or in movies. No one gets hurt because the characters are made up and we can all get a good laugh.
After I arrived home I decided that the best revenge is a dish served cold…that is to say I cooled off, recovered my scattered wits and decided to get all the comedy gold I could out of an ugly situation. A silk evening purse out of a sow's ear, so to speak.
Here then, I present the Fantasy Dinner Party Guest List for the holiday season - I invite to my table the folks most likely to spar, spit and spoil the festivities - in grand style.
Naturally, this evening's menu is heavy on the fatted cow, light on the herbs. Who better to help us consume heartily than the following feasters:
Winston Churchill - I know, he attended the last soiree - but he's a favourite with the ladies and is quick with hurling a well aimed barb, be you male or female. You probably deserve it.
Barbara Stanwyck - Don't annoy her, she's likely packing a pistol in that structured handbag. Besides, she has the perfect sexy whiskey voice and I'd love to see her throw a drink at Winston while telling him in no uncertain terms to get off her ranch.
Joan Crawford - Try and tell me you don't want her to cause a scene in those shoulder pads, victory roll and crazy eyes. Don't #$@* with her, fellas! At least she's well bred enough to leave her axe in the mud room before sitting down at the table.
Ernest Hemingway - I think when he was dreaming up "A Moveable Feast" he was really referring to leftovers, and you can be certain he is secretly taking notes for his next novel. I would. Easy on the scotch though - he can swing a punch.
Steve McQueen - Eye candy. Everyone wants to be him or at least sit by him. However, he's more likely to sneer at his fellow diners than to smile, especially if you are of the female persuasion.
Maria Callas - Beautiful, intense and dramatic she would be willing to move her cat fight with Joan into the backyard pool without losing her tiara in the process. In her own words: "Wherever I am, it is hectic."
Your Boss - Because, aren't the holidays for saying what's really on your mind? Especially after a few rum and eggnogs. Don't hold back!
Your ex - see above.
Your soon to be ex-friend - 'Tis the season for (over) sharing, tears and recriminations over wine. Take off the velvet gloves and have at 'er.
Darth Vader - Nothing stirs up icy resentment and tenseness better than a cloaked and hooded, mouth breathing villain. Also, there's a good chance he's your father so you better not offend him. Besides, if anyone gets too out of control, he can do that choking thing with his mind (see: Your boss, ex and ex-friend).
Wonder Woman - Nothing staves off the slings and arrows better than a set of magical gold cuffs. The lasso of truth is also handy for wringing out the last dregs of insults and slurs from those guests who harbour any petty hatred toward you, whether you want to hear it or not. Also, she's really pretty and can kick some serious ass, away from the table - of course.
Alfred Hitchcock - Again, a return guest but really, who better to appreciate the "scene" as an art form?
Joan Fontaine - Perhaps the queen of long-standing feuds, her cultivated self-preservation skills include a cutting wit and dressing really well. Besides, winning an Oscar is the best revenge and she's a pal of Alfred's...theirs might be the most civilized conversation at the table. But...then he'll make a pass at her and spoil it.
Charles Dickens - A fine example of one who uses social humiliations as inspiration. The life of the party, and a wicked good mimic, he's in high demand as a dinner guest. His plus one is the Poor Little Match Girl, for those of you who enjoy a smoke after dinner and are in need of a light. Shall we repair to the drawing room?
Well, that wraps up another fantasy dinner party with yet another round of glittering guests at the Gift of the Fab table - have yourselves a wonderful holiday season - and keep it civilized - Santa knows.