Alcohol is plays a major role in my thoughts of entertaining.
My vision of the perfect dinner party is at an outdoor setting: the view is of vineyards rolling over the hills; the table nestles beneath an arbor, which catches cool breezes and the scent of flowers. The company is convivial. Wine glasses are raised to smiling lips. The food, as luscious as the evening air, is colorful with fresh fruits and herbed vegetables dripping in extra virgin olive oil.
I have another vision of socializing: the room is spacious and modern with art and flowers softening the edges of bright mirrors and large windows reflecting the scene. Women in sleek dresses are colorful contrast to the sharply dressed men who listen attentively. A few groups are energetic; the conversation rises and falls in a rhythm syncopated by exclamations. Others are casually seated in perfectly appointed areas that give opportunity for words floating back and forth between easy laughter as the ice clinks in cocktails and the light shimmers through the stemmed glasses. Music flows along the edges.
These are movie images. And they play themselves out as perfect scenarios…for finite periods and until alcohol becomes the star of the show.
As much as I idealize social lubrication of alcohol, I am frightened of its ultimate affect. In a family beset by addiction from all sides, every social occasion brings underlying uneasiness.
Will it be fun or stressful? When will the next drink be the “one too many”? When will I hear words that are too loud, or a bit garbled on the ends? Will there be a misunderstanding? Will an argument begin? When will affection become maudlin? Lips become loose?
My anxiety is heightened from a distance. I am afraid of the volatility of a late night caller. What can I do with mid-morning Skype call that frames an obvious intoxication, which is beyond my reach? What should I do if the door opens and someone finally walks through the door with carefully measured steps after having driven to my house? My entire body tightens in fear and rage with the memories and with the anticipation of the next time.
On the other hand, a beer is refreshing on a hot day. I love having wine with dinner. The occasional scotch or tequila is just plain fun at a party. Margaritas go really well with mariachis. Of course, I have friends and family who get the same enjoyment from iced tea.
As usual, I don’t know the answers. Or at least I am not yet willing to accept them for myself.
Dinner for eight: ice water will be served?