Saturday, April 16, 2005

Paris Blogue-t-il?

Who would you say is more of a social being, a Madisonian or a Parisian?

Just to give you a hint: our blogger dinners are typically for about a half dozen high-livin’ bloggers. In Paris, a blogger dinner can draw a couple of hundred.

Conversation with a friend

For no good reason, this morning I recalled this little exchange from a little while ago:

I would expect you to tell me if I had a piece of food stuck to my tooth. Would you?
Maybe, I don’t know…

You wouldn’t? How about if I smelled or had bad breath? Aren’t friends supposed to tell each other these things?
I most definitely would not tell you if you smelled or had bad breath!

This is so disappointing! How am I ever supposed to know?
[Resolved: pack in more tic tacs and up the deodorant application, just in case]

And here’s the quandary: why wouldn’t one tell? If it’s a correctible issue, why make the person suffer a form of silent humiliation?

Recently a student told me of a physical “defect” a professor had – entirely correctable! – that caused her, the student, each time to look away out of piteous embarrassment. Obviously the student couldn’t say a word. But shouldn’t a friend point it out?

Or, in this particular exchange, was the friend really saying “I wouldn’t tell because, actually, there is a certain staleness about you that I can’t quite put my finger on…”

That would be nasty. I come from a country where body odor is a real problem, especially in tight spaces on hot days. Like the child who is a victim of excessive spanking and who resolves, therefore, never to swipe a hand over a kid’s rear end (a resolve that all, btw, should have), I have my own resolves here and I wont venture out in public without a morning shower (too many of my fellow country men and women do).

But supposing that the interaction between Tom’s of Maine natural stick and myself was no longer a successful one, I would expect a friend to pull me aside and suggest change. I’d be embarrassed, they’d be embarrassed, we’d slap each other on the back a few times and I’d scoot out to the store and try a new one.

Would I be equally honest? No, Poles don’t have to be honest here. Poles talk in innuendos all the time anyway. I’m spared a reciprocal obligation. It’s a benefit of being foreign-born.

Where Ocean is promoting a great way to have people over, serve food and drinks and spend no time preparing for any of it.

Simply call it a happy hour. It’s a new thing, started by a small group of people in my neighborhood (first banded together over pre-election debates). We want you to come over, at the end of the week, after work and we’ll make some martinis. So said the email invite some months back. Since then it’s become an institution.

Last night it was at my house. Some dozen people, squeezed around the kitchen table (since it’s not a meal, you don’t have to worry about the fact that a dozen people do not really fit around your kitchen table), eating whatever snacks I could throw together in the half hour that I had before they came (no excuses needed when I shamelessly take off the lid from prepared Whole Foods salads, or slice up a loaf of bread and throw it next to a St Nectaire cheese, or dump precooked on-sale shrimp with store-bought dipping sauce).

Oh, the stories that are told when it’s tight like that and you have to stand up to recount what happened when Laura Bush came to the hospital and mistook you for one of the mentally-challenged patients (you can really build that one after a round of martinis, bringing tears to people’s faces).

All you need is a kitchen table. Even without a meal on it, it is the draw. Happy hour becomes happy many hours.

To those who were here last night: thank you for the anticipatory cake and good wishes! You totally flooded me with your good hearts.

To readers who have yet to be told repeatedly by me that somewhere in the week ahead I am flipping a digit – sort of like springing forward with the clock, except there is no reversal come next season – yes, my birthday is coming* and yes, I take it very very seriously. Simply put: I love this pseudo-reflective and hopeful day of the year where every mistake can be erased and life can start all over, on a better track.

* John Muir, Queen Elizabeth and me. It used to be Hitler too, but recently, historians peg him as being born the day before my day. Thank God. I hated sharing any space with Adolph even if he may have been an okay-looking baby.
Focal point: always the kitchen table. Posted by Hello
Awesome! And chocolate, too. Posted by Hello