Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Late Arrival

Someone suggested recently that “consistent lateness” was one of my defining qualities.

I take exception to that.

I’m not consistently late – I just consistently arrive when I feel like it. There is a major difference.

Lateness suggests that I intended to be somewhere at a certain, pre-ordained, time and really – I didn’t. I know you said “7PM”, but at no point at that time, or subsequent to that invitation, did I ever really intend to be there smartly at 7PM. I just didn’t, and I’m not sorry.

I look at start and arrival times as a basic suggestion or “broad guideline” for my behavior.

Please allow me to paint you a picture of a typical Friday night dinner gathering: I understand that most couples will arrive at your house at 7PM for dinner, but I also know that most of them will be genuinely “late” (and fighting about it in the car), AND that you’re not going to have dinner on the table until 7:45ish because, honestly, I know you don’t have sense enough to take Martha Stewart’s “prep time” comments seriously. I know you figure, somehow, that if it takes Martha 30 minutes it’ll take you 19; but I tend to swing the opposite way. See, I think if it takes Martha 30 minutes it’s going to take YOU, your Chinet, and your dry-rotted spatulas about 3 hours (not including cleanup). I take ex-cons at their word.

I also know that if I get there “on time” I’m going to be the first one there which violates Mom’s basic party rule “get there late and leave early.” That’s strike two.

The other secret ingredient to my arrival time is that I’m very comfortable with the thought of you starting whatever youre doing pretty much whenever you want. Don’t wait on me! I’ll catch up. If I can’t catch up – I’ll find a way to occupy myself. I’m resourceful like that, and I’ve always wanted a peek in your sock drawer.

I’d just as soon walk in on the middle of a great dinner conversation than have to drum one up myself anyway. So what if you run out of something before I arrive? I’ve got beef jerky and nutbars in the truck – right underneath the .38 shells, D-cell batteries, and emergency poncho. I’m prepared for any dinnerguest emergency.

My lovely, budding-psychologist of a girlfriend just sweetly informed me that “lateness is a form of control.” I didn’t realize that, but it’s good to know. If somebody is going to be in control of me – it may as well be me.

Stuff THAT in your casserole dish and burn it.

While we’re on the topic: I’m also not bringing you anything when I arrive for dinner. You invited ME over for dinner. How it works is: I come in and you give ME food. Sometime down the road I’ll feed YOU dinner – don’t bring me anything - and then we’re even! I don’t want your pepper jelly-smeared chunk of cream cheese anywhere in my house, I promise.

Sweet lawd.

Every time somebody plunks one of those bad boys and a box of triscuit’s finest woven cardboard down on the table and I hear a sharp intake of breath as the hostess breathes a lusty “Ohhhhhh. Mmm what is that? That looks delicious” I want to scream “OHHH ME!! PICK ME!!! I KNOW WHAT IT IS!! IT’S A COLD BLOCK OF CREAM CHEESE SMEARED IN NASTY JELLY FROM A JAR AND GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW OLD IT IS.”

Oh the ritual tunes we dance to…

You can take that same block of cream cheese, or “brie” or whatever it is, and wrap it in instant biscuit dough and you know what you’ve got?


You’ve got a big nasty block of rotten cheese product wrapped in white flour and water. Keep it. My neighbor’s cat eats better than that and I should know: I fed it a dead squirrel last night.

I’m betting he dropped it off under their dinner table promptly at 7:30…

Right on time.

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