I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keeping Score of Dinner

Someone please tell me if keeping track of social engagements is a Jewish thing, a woman thing, an Australian thing, a 30-something thing, or a just the crazy people I hang out with thing. Let me explain, because I'm not talking about time management here.

As a family, we like to entertain. A hell of a lot. So it's not at all unusual to have one or more friends over for dinner, people over for afternoon tea on a weekend, people over for an impromptu bbq, random OPK* running around and staying for dinner, and so on. I suppose if I were to armchair psychologist this, I'd say it's because I equate food, company and comfort with love - so having people around is a way of expressing love and in turn receiving love. If I weren't an armchair psychologist, I'd just say I like doing it. It's fun and having lots or a few people doesn't bother me at all (as opposed to my Mum, who has 2 people over for lunch and spends 2 weeks freaking out about it.) Plus, given my profession and the size of my family, I don't find catering for a crowd terribly difficult. It's just what I do and I like to do it. Simple.

ANYWAY, today we had our traditional Australia Day BBQ with about 35 or so people here (less then normal, usually over 50 are here.) No less than three people invited us back to their homes for events-of-undefined-nature because, and I quote"It's our turn, you guys have had us over so many times, we really feel bad that we have not returned the hospitality."

OHHHHHHH does this type of comment irk me.

There is no score sheet in my head. I have NO idea how many times I have people over because I neither count nor do I care. I invite people over because I like their company, I think they're nice people, and I just enjoy having people over. I don't do it because (or even in hope of) having a return invitation, and it annoys me that they feel some sort of obligation. Sure, I think it's nice if they want to have us back sometime, but I don't think they should feel obligated to. Is this some sort of weird social rule I just don't get?

Now before you think it's all about group events, let me just point out that the same phenomenon is true of my kids' play dates. Mothers are forever telling me that one or more of my kids should come to their place because one or more of their kids was over here. For the love of god, people, is it really that big a deal? Is everyone else normal by keeping score and it's me who is the strange one for not doing so? In my world (admittedly possibly abnormal world), being a friend is just being a friend and there is no real rules attached to that friendship. You just do what feels comfortable, what you are capable of, and that's the end of that. Imagine if one of these people actually refused an invitation of mine because they truly felt bad about coming over here again without having us back there...that would be totally ridiculous, right? Makes no sense. So I don't understand this concept of feeling 'bad' because you've not returned the invite the same number of times as I have extended it.

Explain this to me. What IS it with the score keeping? And by the way, do you want to come over for dinner next week?

*OPK = Other People's Kids

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