Our weekend’s of late have been consumed with toddler’s parties by day and dinner parties by night. Pretty rock n roll huh? Farewell pubs and hangover’s and lengthy lie ins and greasy recovery food. Hello gift wrapping, blue icing, toddler violence and cake. Both have their own unique rituals and etiquettes that are to be adhered to.
Dinner parties are civilized affairs, or at least that is the intention. They are an exercise in presenting yourself as the person you want to be; endeavouring to make your home look a little more stylish than usual, eating food that costs a little more than usual, attempting to offer up conversation that sparkles a little bit brighter than is customary and wearing shirts that are a little cleaner than normal. Guests come baring gifts that have been purchased with little thought or effort about ten minutes prior to arrival, a bottle of cheap wine or a bunch sorry looking daffodils is usually enough to gain entry.
Have you noticed that people consciously slow down when eating at dinner parties; it becomes a race to finish last with everyone inspecting one another’s plates to ensure they aren’t ‘losing’? If you do find yourself getting ahead of the pack, gently dabbing the superfluous napkin around the mouth will soon see you fall back in line.
Dinner party menus are planned weeks in advance. “I could do a lovely Thai inspired menu! But will our guests be suitably blown away?” This is after all an exercise in blowing our guests away and making them feel inferior to us. Well if it’s inferior we’re after you can’t really look past French, extravagant ingredients, flamboyant techniques, wanky names – that should make them feel bad about themselves. Portions should be offensively small and plating should scream superficial pretentiousness.
Whilst spending the entire meal thinking what a flash bastard you are your guests will obligingly massage your ego by making orgasmic noises after each mouthful and telling you how brilliant you are, this is after all why you have invited them. The remainder of the evening’s conversation will be memorized and regurgitated from political TV shows and broadsheet newspapers in a flailing bid to sound intelligent.
A toddler’s tea party is not without ritual, rules and etiquette either. Toddler parties do not flow like dinner parties, starter, main, dessert is an absurd system favoured only by adults. The star of the toddler party is undoubtedly the cake and is therefore eaten on arrival, and the star of the cake is the luminescent icing that is licked clean off to reveal a sad looking sponge underneath. If a toddler could put such a sentence together it would be “hurry up and blow out the f’ing candles so we can all get down in sugar town”. As the sugar slowly releases itself and takes effect on an entire tribe of toddler’s things begin to heat up.
As gifts are opened and dismissed by the star of the show the tribe move in to pick off any stray diggers, teddies or dolls that have been left unattended;. Books, puzzles and any other offerings that have a vague educational value remain untroubled and undisturbed throughout the ensuing melee. This also goes for the token carrot sticks and apple pieces that are simply there to save parents from becoming the subject of any Post Party Parent Gossip (PPPG); “and there wasn’t one healthy option to choose from, I’ve always thought they were bad parents”.
Whilst adults take their time to obligingly finish what is on their plate the toddler motto is “if you snooze you lose” and in this case you lose out on fairy bread, lamingtons, cupcakes, fizzy drink and a whole lot of other goodness that is usually on the banned list. Pythons are renowned for their ability to dislocate their jaws in order to swallow unusually large mammals; I think they learnt that trick from toddler parties. Cutlery is wielded only as a weapon used to deter any rival toddlers from stealing toys, cake or potential girl/boyfriends. Whilst dinner parties end once all the alcohol is gone, a toddler party usually comes to an abrupt end when your child has either maimed or been maimed.
It’s very hard to say which one I would rather not attend more. I think on the balance of things toddlers offer up a lot less bullshit so I will go toddler party. Perhaps both will grow on me as I settle into a more responsible/boring life but for now I am nostalgic for the good old days of pubs and hangover’s and lengthy lie ins and greasy recovery food.