Friday, August 14, 2009

i thought better of the marmalade...

Tonight, Brock and I attended a lovely dinner party hosted by Leslie, author of the hilarious blog, Squid Pro Quo. I was honored to be invited because quite frankly, Leslie and I don't know each other that well. I felt whatever gift I arrived with had to make a good impression, representative of what might be in store if I were ever to be invited back. 
No trait is more lauded than that of a good guest. 
But obviously, most people bring wine to dinner parties. And it seems kind of ridiculous for me to walk in the door with a bottle of Pinot when we all know I can't touch the stuff. Brock agreed that we'd have to come up with something alcohol free, but clever and well thought-out. 
"Wine's a bad idea anyway." Brock assured me. "It might not pair with her menu."
I recalled the "Dear Babe" column on the SF Appeal dealing with this very conundrum, the sober party guest not knowing what to bring. But in our rush, I didn't take the time to look up Babe's advice. 
A parking place in front of Bi-Rite market provided an opportunity to stop, so Brock guarded the passenger seat while I popped out. I grabbed a bouquet of organic peonies and walked through the front door, finding a line of at least 20 people who travel with their own canvas tote bags. Those in front and behind me in line had baskets filled with wonderful, glorious, expensive food. "What great lives they must lead." I thought to myself. "They're all going to go home and watch Nova."
The woman directly in front of me was admiring a huge wall of jam. "Don't you just love old-fashioned jam?" She sighed. 
I don't know what kind of new fangled jam this broad was stuck with, but admittedly, the Bi-Rite jam looked pretty good. "Who doesn't love jam?" I asked. 
Which is when I decided jam would be a really cool hostess gift. Who, I ask you, doesn't love jam? If someone showed up at your house with a jar of classy jam, you'd be thrilled, right?
I grabbed the jam.
As the line inched forward, we neared the baked goods. Jam lover in front of me started chatting about the cookies and cakes as I looked at my watch. But then I noticed the coffee cake. I was reminded of very fancy restaurants that provide you with a breakfast pastry for the next day's breakfast. It's always struck me as such a good move. "Thank you so much for coming to dinner. Here's your breakfast by the way. Enjoy the awesomeness."
I grabbed the coffee cake. 
Leslie, ever the gracious hostess, immediately threw the flowers in a vase and cracked open the jam. And I hoped in my heart of hearts she wasn't silently thinking to herself, "It wouda killed you to bring a bottle of wine?"
Technically, yes. It might have.
Plus, it's kinda fun to arrive at a stranger's house to find piles of flawlessly prepared food and lovely party guests and present them with a condiment...


Alexis said...

Pot of jam = perfect gift.

Preppie Andrew Michael Hall says to con artist Will Smith (Six Degrees of Separation): "... and never be afraid of rich people. You know what they love?"

"A fancy pot of jam."

And there you go.

sflovestory said...

You are a GOLD STAR guest. Emily Post would be proud.

I read Babe's column and totally agreed with her. Wine is a TERRIBLE hostess gift, for anyone to bring (sober or not). It might not pair well with the menu, and she might feel obligated to serve it. I think it verges on tacky.

The best hostess gifts are those the hostess can enjoy after everyone has left.

I hope people take note of your particular type of etiquette.

Also, "going home to watch Nova" LOL.

HappyRachael said...

Your writing brings me such joy and now I have the greatest go to gift to bring to parties. Yeah! You rock!

Leslie/Squid said...

I can't read this because it's somewhat about me and I can't handle gratitude, compliments, or affection. Brandon told me you wrote this though so that's exciting!

I did see the last bit clicking into the comments section and trust me, we didn't need more alcohol....I ate the SHIT out of that coffee cake.