Admittedly I have a passion bordering on neurotic for closure. I love to put the lid on things. Perhaps it has something to do with rejuvenation. At the very least it’s a sense of resolution. Without the drama, the ceremony – whatever it entails, whether strictly business or highly personal – is a closing down or discontinuation. Frequently my mania for this conclusion is spirited by general impatience. The goal is always pursued with utter lack of compromise, accommodation or delay. It has to be a weakness of mine that once I get an idea in my head I won’t let it go until it is accomplished. In any event I am emboldened in my commitment to this latest determination by my conviction that I have all my wits about me and that the decision is prudent. It’s an enterprise which has rankled me for some time. At last I’m doing something about it. From this day forth I’m done with entertaining.
As I said, the notion is not new. It has been percolating within me. I know for example that on several occasions I have repelled the surprisingly bold suggestion from a friend of mine that “we haven’t had one of our famous dinners lately” – which is to say, I haven’t gone to the trouble of inviting her and preparing the meal. Really! The proposal might be more palatable if it constituted reciprocity but it is an entirely unilateral obligation. Frankly I am not prepared to succumb to the persuasion; the flattery is entirely lost on me. As I succinctly observed, entertaining is work. Neither does it help that I no longer have the buoyancy of alcohol to sustain me in my efforts. If I am going to have a heartfelt communion with a friend I would prefer it to be over a cup of coffee.
Last evening we rallied for dinner chez nous with two long-time friends with whom we’ve socialized on numerous occasions. Our dining exploits – both private and public – have taken us as far abroad as Sardinia and Tuscany. The meal marked the pinnacle of a collection of our most recent soirées with friends and associates, people to whom I felt an outstanding obligation for one reason or another. But those duties are now fulfilled. We’re done!
There is considerable satisfaction in knowing that we’ve quit on a high note. By all accounts the meal last night was a success both socially and gastronomically. Given my extremely limited culinary repertoire and corresponding lack of expertise the outcome of my productions is not always assured. But yesterday afternoon as I began preparing the meal I had the general confidence of doing it right, balancing the proportions of ingredients and the depth of additives. Apart from the strawberries (which were rather woody) all the other constituents for the main course were ripe and fresh. The gratification of the food was complemented by the vivacity of our conversations throughout the evening. Though we didn’t conduct an analysis of all life’s pressing concerns we did nonetheless touch upon numerous compelling issues ranging from family to finances.
Truth be known, I am relieved to be able at last to put behind me my social obligations. As astounding as it may sound, we have no further duties in that department. This is not especially unusual for people such as ourselves at our advanced age who are out of the social loop. We no longer cultivate business relationships; and our circle of friends has noticeably diminished to include very few. We are as well more inclined to spend time with immediate family.
I haven’t abandoned the idea of sharing a meal with others. I just don’t want to be the one who prepares it. Nor to be clear do I want to entertain in our home. This doesn’t mean I am opting for formal dining in restaurants. I’d prefer a casual venue, perhaps a lakeside resort or local beanery. This shift in thinking is similar to the many other decisions we’ve made in the past several years as part of the process of retirement and down-sizing generally. There comes a point when one must call it quits or give it up. Contemporaneously we are undertaking different exploits. In every case the focus is less work. I won’t suggest that the level of enjoyment has evaporated, just changed.