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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Balebuste Gene

Balebuste (Bah-leh-boos-teh) - Yiddish word which loosely translated means "hostess with the mostess."

DH and I are the kind of people who quite enjoy hosting family and friends over for various affairs of the 'eat drink and be merry' variety. Sometimes it's a regular gig, where it's just a friend coming over to watch a regular TV show with us and enjoy a family meal. Sometimes it's a more formal but regular gig, like a Friday night meal of several courses and with several family members, and sometimes it's a "all in for a BBQ" sort of thing. In any case we entertain fairly often and I really like it. I've noticed, though, that other people are not like this...and it amuses me no end when we go to someone's house and they seem to be totally lacking the Balebuste gene. I know they mean well, but...really...when they're serving a Hawaiian themed meal and you're anaphylactic to pineapple, there is no hiding who among us has the Balebuste gene and who does not.  While I would not say that I am the world's best hostess, I like to think I've worked out some of the 'rules' involved in having people over.

Mind you, the rules are flexible based on who the guest is and what sort of meal it is, but generally speaking, if you're going to be a Balebuste, you really should not:

1) Yell at your kid in front of guests, unless said kid has burned the house down, or just walked away with a fistful of matches, some lighter fluid and an evil glint in their eye. Really, yelling at your kid is embarassing for them, embarassing for the guest, and surely something which can wait until later. Really. It is.

2) Tell your guests off for not using the right cutlery at the right time and then refusing to get them the correct piece, which means they then need to eat their mousse with a knife as a result. Ummm..yeah. You're meant to go get me another spoon even if it means YOU are left eating your mousse with a ginsu knife.

3) Wait to serve your guests still the end.  Serve your guests first no matter how whingy your kid is. If you serve the guest last and there is not enough to go around...it's just awkward. You as hostess are kinda required to have the small mangy bits left at the end. Suffer. It's what a Balebuste does.

4) And speaking of - there needs to be more than one potato per person. Especially if they are small ones and even if they are not.

5) Find out ahead of time that your guest is deathly allergic to or really really hates (insert ingredient here) and then DO NOT put (ingredient) anywhere in anything you serve that night. I do not give a shit if your signature dish is pineapple flambe. Learn to flambe some other fruit. Or whatever.

6) Do not at any time say, "Right, well, you've eaten me out of house and home, now, time to go!" and shoo your guests out the door within 5 seconds of their last bite passing their lips. Being a decent hostess does actually involve more than feeding people (although that's the main bit.)

7) Leave the toilet bereft of paper or soap. Just...gross. Toilet paper and soap need to be bountiful. Always.

8) Actually *be prepared* that you've got guests coming over. This means the table is set, the food is cooking or on it's way to be cooked, you've got clean dishes organised, you are not in your pyjamas eating a take away. It will save you opening the door and trying to look like you did not forget people were coming (hint: the pj's and noodles were a dead giveaway.)

9) Fail to eat at the table. Oh, I hate this one. I don't understand hosting people and then spending the entire night in the kitchen or doing dishes. You actually need to BE THERE to be a host. You've got to keep the conversation going (not abandon everyone to their own devices), keep the drinks flowing, make sure everyone is well looked after, and the dog is not throwing up in the corner. You can't do ANY of that if you're hiding out in the kitchen. See #8, and get your shit together so you can eat with your guests.

and lastly,

10) Never, ever let them see you sweat. Key to this whole Balebuste thing is making it all look effortless. Eighteen course meal? EASY! Tidy house? No worries. Groomed kids? Naturally. That your bedroom closet is groaning with the crap you flung in there 10 minutes before they arrived, and that the outside trash is brimming with take away containers which held the dinner you will claim is home made? Not their damn business, that's what.

...and if you're a guest rather than the host, here are your rules:

1) Regardless of what you've been fed or not fed, how wierd their kid is, that the dog did not stop humping your leg under the table, that the cutlery had encrusted god-knows-what on it, that the meat was one step short of being suitable for shoe leather, that you were afraid to sit down anywhere because the place was so dirty....just smile and be complimentary. Learn to lie. Skillfully. It's your job as guest to pretend like everything is fine and Armageddon (eg their little angel darling) did not creep you out when her head began to spin on it's axis a la Poltergeist. Repeat after me, "It was really lovely, thank you SO much!" and then RUN LIKE HELL back to your car and pray nobody follows you.

2) Offer to help, and DO help if they take you up on it. Nobody likes a lazy guest.


3) On the way home swing my McD's and grab something decent to eat, make a mental note to offer to GO OUT next time these people invite you.

 (edited to add)

4) Do not show up empty handed, it's not really that hard to buy a box of chocolate or some flowers on the way there. Showing up with nothing as a token of your thanks is just plain rude.

...and of course by writing this post, I'm fully opening myself up to the possibility of nobody wanting to come over ever again (because they know I'm hiding shit in my closet) or never inviting us over again (because I'm going to count those damn potatoes.) C'est la vie. There's always McDonald's.

** FYI none of these things have happened in recent months, so if you're reading this and thinking, "Oh shit, I'm guilt of most of that!" when we were over your place last, rest assured you were *not* the impetus for this post. 


Poppet's mum said...

Where the hell were you that prompted this post??!!!

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Actually, PM, nowhere! So if you (or anyone else) is reading this and feeling mortally wounded, I promise none of this refers to anywhere I've been in recent months - really. Most of it is from general experiences over many years which DH and I have had - and some of it is just a *wee* big exaggerated for comedic purposes. :)


Poppet's mum said...

Not at all mortally wounded (didn't even cross my mind it was anyone we are close with) - just curious. Usually you have an impetous to writing your blog, inspiraction so to speak so just thought I'd ask.