Back when we lived at 110 Flamingo Street, Mom entertained all the time. It was actually only once a month, but to us kids that seemed like all the time. To say she was a socialite would be as big of an understatement as BP saying, “Oops, we’ve spilled a little oil. Someone get a sponge.” Mom was like Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, and Paula Deen all rolled into one.
They say kids are a product of their parents. I really don’t know who “They” are, but they’re right. Watching Mom buzz around the house being a once a month socialite made me into the man I am today – an anti-socialite. What’s the difference, you may ask? It’s simple – rules. Lots and lots of rules.
The rules for being a socialite are way too numerous to list for just one column, so I’ll concentrate on the most important. Those would be the ones Mom always followed.
First and foremost before any entertaining could take place, our house had to be cleaned from top to bottom. Now why my closet, under all our beds, and even the bathtub had to be cleaned I never was able to figure out.
In the seven years spent at 110 Flamingo Street not once were any of Mom’s house guests brave enough to venture into our bedrooms. Much less rifle through our closets and, in spite of it being cleaned by Scrubbing Bubbles, not one guest took a bath.
The second rule was similar to the first: all kids had to also be cleaned and that meant even behind the ears. The reasoning behind this water torture was so we could meet the guests for all of 10 seconds.
The third rule was really Dad’s rule: closing the bathroom door and running the water doesn’t count as taking a bath or shower. One must actually enter the water, soap, rinse, and then repeat. This and only this would be considered as bathing. And no, Dad didn’t use Scrubbing Bubbles on us, but I’m sure he thought about it.
Next up, rule number four: the formal dining room was a no-kid zone the day before and day of the dinner party. During this time, Mom rushed between the kitchen, cooking enough food for an army, and making sure the long dining table was set correctly. By noon of the second day of our banishment each place setting was flanked by spoons, knives, and three forks.
Why three forks I really never found out. It may be because Big Steve from down the street was a regular guest and could eat three times as much as anyone else. Mom didn’t let anyone go away from the dinner table hungry. And that was rule number five.
Being an anti-socialite is much simpler than being sociable and entertaining all the time like Mom. Simple because there’s only one rule to follow: there are no rules.
Rooms don’t have to be cleaned; multiple dirty rings are allowed (around tubs and children), and one fork is enough to down any meal. Betty, Martha, and Paula would disagree, but they’re not an anti-socialite like me.
Besides, I’ve got a great idea for a new television show — The Anti-Socialite Hour. It could be the next number one hit! On second thought, having a hit television show really wouldn’t work too well for me. I’m sure I’d have to take a bath everyday and wash behind my ears.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]