Pat grew up in a Greek area of Florida, so her idea of hosting a party leaned in a different direction from my own Midwestern roots. I thought people should be fed, offered drinks and made to feel comfortable. She thought the guests should feel envy and admiration when they arrived.
This is what led to an interesting trip to the grocery store where we argued whether we should buy the spray cheese. I knew for a fact that spray cheese is always a hit at parties. She argued that it was too Midwestern and akin to our parents' cheese balls. I prevailed on the spray cheese, but she made a stand herself as we wandered through the alcohol store. She found a thin white box wrapped in cellophane that held small chocolate liqueur cups.
"These would be perfect," she murmured. I could see in her mind that she pictured the crowd of reporters sipping Bailey's Irish Cream from their chocolate liqueur cups before nibbling on the liquor-infused cups.
Here's a photo of five of us who were in attendance at the party and had a little reunion two years ago in Chicago. I'm sitting between Pat's husband Dave and our friend Steve. Pat is wrestling with my husband. Not a liqueur cup in sight.
Now, I know it wasn't a competition as to who performed better as host, but history can attest that the crowd preferred the spray cheese to the chocolate liqueur cups.
How can I be sure?
I stood by and watched the reporters grasp a shot glass filled with tequila spread a string of cheese along the area between their thumb and forefinger. They downed the tequila and licked the cheese into their mouths as a chaser. The spray cheese ran out before the tequila did.
As for the chocolate liqueur cups, unfortunately, they hadn't been big sellers in the liquor store. This cellophane-wrapped box of edible liqueur cups must have been on the shelf for quite awhile because they tasted like rubber. Our guests agreed.
How can I be sure?
We found the cups hidden in our plants afterward by guests too polite to throw them away in front of hostess Pat. Instead they stashed them in the ficus pot and the green corn plant. As we cleaned up the next day, the number of cups seemed to flourish. Could it be possible that we found more cups than were actually in the package?
The party was further Midwesternized by a friend who threw glitter as he greeted people and later gathered friends around to tell the story of the Yule Log. But, that's a story for another time when I need to perturb Pat.