The Dinner Party

In about 24 hours, a lot of you will be gathering at the homes of family and friends for well-deserved long weekends, and an onslaught of richly prepared foods. If you are like my family, you’ll launch into a rollicking good time, loud enough for the neighbors to consider filing a noise complaint with the local authorities.

Perhaps someone should have called the Emily Post enforcement division many years ago after an early spring dinner party that Hubby and I attended when we were still dating. Hubby’s friends, Hannah and Anwar, invited four couples to their charming duplex in an old Brooklyn brownstone to eat and mingle. The place was splendid, with its fireplaces, beautifully maintained woodwork, original pocket doors, and very high ceilings.

They were gracious hosts, but some of their guests were … they were … oddballs. Aside from us, three other couples showed up: Athena and her French husband Etienne.  There was also Lois, a NUT, with her mellow Dutch husband Peter. Hannah and Anwar served a yummy mix of Moroccan and American food (Anwar is from Morocco). I think about that dinner party occasionally, but not always fondly. The fact that this was a very diverse group of people, with every couple being mixed across cultural, racial or religious lines was a big plus. It meant we might be able to talk about our common experiences and just have a good time being around others like us. Except for Hannah’s marriage, every other couple was an interracial one involving a European or white American man and a black woman. I was the only “fully” black woman, as Athena and Lois were both biracial. I think that in Athena’s case, her mother was Haitian and her father Greek.

Oddball behavior overshadowed the obvious opportunity for us to “swap notes,” on our experiences.
As we all know, strange behavior afflicts individuals of all creeds, races and cultures. 
Let’s talk about Lois.  I forgot her real name, and it’s probably for the best, because she is one of those irksome women who turn motherhood into a blood sport. At one point I said that I saw the movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” and that I liked it. To which she replied: “Well, obviously you don’t have any kids.” That was true. I had no kids at the time, but that’s because I chose not to be a single mother. If someone can please show me the connection between having a child and enjoying a movie for grown-ups, I’ll take back every dirty look I shot that woman and every insult I muttered about her that evening.  I repent of the fantasies about keying her car and her longsuffering husband dragging her out the door by her hair. Poor man.

Aside from Hannah, Athena saved the party.  She seemed very down to earth, did not carry on and on about the glories and agonies of parenthood that only someone who has been pregnant could possibly understand.  She just made witty conversation. Her husband also seemed nice, not puffed up or standoffish in any way. In fact, of all the couples there, I wish we could have carved out Hannah and Anwar and Athena and Etienne and ditched the others.

Sorry ladies. Life is long, and interracial and cross-cultural marriages sometimes come fraught with complications. My thinking is that unless you make the journey a more comfortable one for me, you’ve got to go.

I hope everyone out there has a great time this Thanksgiving, and that my story amused you. Make the best of the families you have, choose your friends very carefully and enjoy the rest.



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