Jem Beedoo

Jem Beedoo is an Auckland writer

Jem Beedoo: Married-couple dinner parties must be banned

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You can expect one mean bottle of wine shared between eight people. Expect cheese boards and cheesy boredom. Expect the expected. Photo / Thinkstock
You can expect one mean bottle of wine shared between eight people. Expect cheese boards and cheesy boredom. Expect the expected. Photo / Thinkstock

Same-sex marriage has always been with us. Marriage itself ostensibly ensures the sex will always be the same. But, that aside, I wish dinner parties between married couples would be outlawed - they are perverse. As I've said before, this isn't the '70s anymore.

At a dinner party you can expect a competitive comment from one wife to another, a dull DIY talk between the husbands of the wives, or the wives of the wives, or the husbands of the husbands, and endless hints at a better time.

I mean everyone is trying to check out everybody else. For why else would you take a brightly lit residential meal with your oldest friend, let alone your oldest friend's wife? From a man's perspective, the latter is scarcely likeable, and the former almost killed you in your youth, and you only got married to get away from him.

But now, because of the socially expected phenomenon of dinner parties, a married man has to sit around with the aforementioned parties, his own wife, and six to 10 other married people in vastly sober environs.

And it's all about sex. The only difference between now and the '70s is that the S word is merely metaphorical these days. We hope.

You can expect one mean bottle of wine shared between eight people. Expect cheese boards and cheesy boredom. Expect the expected.

In the rare event of there being more than one bottle of wine, make sure the ladies drink champagne only. For champagne is the only alcoholic drink which makes a woman beautiful, as Madame de Pompadour said. Anything less will make the birds go cuckoo. They will singularly rant, rave and rah, rah, rah bitchily for 20 minutes about their co-worker or sister-in-law, swearing like sea captains, while the men sit in stunned silence.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - we're supposed to be outlawing the dinner party between married couples altogether.

It gets really perverse, mean and stingy when the host asks each couple to contribute a plate of food pre-party. And this is what happens most of the time, in New Zealand, and it's loathsome. The implication is: the host/hostess is too cheap to host you properly. Indeed, you must bring a sad-wrapped plate for he/she to sniff and scoff at, for they're saving money for their trip to Fiji. Disgusting.

A secret cook-off between the female parties is what this party has devolved into, realistically speaking.

But they must be abolished, these dinner parties, as other people's homes are depressing, and especially so at night. He and she, the traditional couple, will never have matching taste in house adornment, so what you get is cumulative interior disharmony: a macabre china cabinet for her and obscene leather furniture for him. In other words, a rest home meets a decadent hotel lobby. Impossible.

Then there's always some poor husband not being allowed to eat sufficiently, as his wife is the weight police. Or the very same wife puts an offensively paltry portion on her own plate, spoiling everyone's fun by making all feel gluttonously guilty for overdoing it with theirs. Then there's the talk of kids, and nobody's interested except those talking.

Dessert is the saddest part of all because not everyone indulges in it and those who don't are left with their hands free which, my uncle assures me, is a fatal look at a party. But then again these particular people are quietly waiting for the others to put on weight, so it gives them a wry, gloating satisfaction.

The decision of who does the dishes is always an embarrassing moment, too.

For the hosts, with their newly hijacked plates, can't very well say, "No, you go - I insist" to their guests with dishes unwashed. For the guests will then have to wait for weeks to get their crockery back and not everyone can afford to lend crockery to others for a full fortnight. But it's a catch-22 because the guests don't want to do the dishes in foreign territory, nor do they want to observe the wreckage of the party any longer. The couples thereupon say their goodbyes.

And the dishes are washed by the hosts in private and thank goodness no one's there for that conversation.

Sheesh.

- NZ Herald

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