I’ve been trying to come up with something to write about my dinner with my parents last Saturday, but the only thing I can come up with is it was normal. It went normal anyway. It felt normal. Even though it was the first time since I moved out twenty years ago that they’ve come over for a meal, I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic or uncomfortable.
When they knocked on the door I got a little apprehensive, but once they walked in I calmed back down. I know they were nervous… obviously, since they had no idea what to expect. In their minds I’m sure the worst case scenario involved an open fire, some sticks and having to skin their own steak. Mom called in the afternoon to ask if they should bring a baguette… I told her if they wanted bread they should bring some because they’d be lucky if the chicken was cooked. So when they walked in the door they had a box of food with them.
The only other time I was nervous was when I was cleaning the apartment, because the only thing I did during the week to prepare was to set up an Ikea bookcase I bought a few months ago on Friday night, and buy the food on Friday afternoon.
So on Saturday morning, after playing GTA IV for ninety minutes, I swept and washed the floors, washed the dishes, organized and dusted my three bookcases, cleaned out my recycling corner, vacuumed my rugs, hung some photos, hosed down my bathroom, cleaned the stove and put a doily on my PlayStation… basically nine hours of work in seven hours of time.
There were a couple of times when I’d take a break and took a look at what was left to clean and thought about rescheduling, but I didn’t. The amount of dust was incredible. I live in an ancient building which basically sits in the intersection of a fairly busy highway and the Main Street of my village. And my cleaning schedule is usually semi-annual. So there were layers. Not only that, I also have a tendency to stack things and never return. I found newspapers under my desk from 2005.
But once it’s done my apartment actually cleans up pretty nice. I also picked some red and yellow tulips from the garden, and some purple lilacs from the tree out back for a centrepiece.
When I was a kid my mom used to host dinner parties for her artist friends, so I learned the lessons and now I’m pretty good at hosting my own… make sure there’s some fairly obscure brand of alcohol; some chunks of cheese; maybe some olives and veggies with a dip; music loud enough so people have to speak slightly louder than normal, and; make sure there are photos and stuff displayed which will start a conversation.
Mostly we talked about my grandfather and how fast he’s deteriorating, and my brother’s wedding next February. And hockey. And books… I have some old and rare first and third editions, and mom’s an archivist. My parents, having now seen my apartment lit, want to buy paint for the walls and they’ve offered me their couch and chair when they buy new ones in June. Couch: yes; Paint: probably not.
I also bought mom a bouquet of belated Mother’s Day flowers. For a lot of reasons I’ve never been very good with Mother’s Day… obviously I don’t have much reason to be sending cards on Father’s Day, but over the past bunch of years I’ve been doing a lot better with getting mom a card or some flowers or a phone call.
Overall my parents were very impressed with the meal and the state of my apartment. They really were expecting barely cooked chicken and boiled potatoes, but again, how could they not? And considering the last time they were here together it was because they thought I was dead — a couple of years ago I stopped having any contact with the outside world and after ten days my parents used my landlords key to let themselves in so they could find out if I was alive or gone or both — this was definitely the most fun we’ve all had here.
I think I’m going to make this an ‘every-other-month’ kind of thing… it’ll give me an excuse to do the dishes again.