There are two ways to have dinner with friends. One is to go out, the other… stay in. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to prefer, more often than not, an evening at home — mine or someone else’s — to dinner in a restaurant. I enjoy the relaxed, easy feeling of not being hustled along by a waiter, not becoming a victim of sticker shock at the prices on the menu and the inevitable vague disappointment in the food. At home, you talk with everyone, whereas in a restaurant, if you have more than six people at the table, you probably won’t. I love having a home-cooked meal when I haven’t prepared it — it’s such a treat for me, and since many of my friends are really wonderful cooks, that makes it even nicer! But whether it’s a sit-down dinner, pot-luck or take-out, dining in is my favorite.
We had just this type of evening a few nights ago, when we were invited to watch the Stanley Cup finals at the home of some good friends. I’m no hockey fan, but it was a great night anyway. As we sat there, four couples who have known each other for 15+ years, I started to make a mental note of the variety of topics we were covering over the course of the night. I know there are lots of younger people — say, 20 and under — who wonder what exactly is so interesting that adults can sit around and talk about for hours on end. A lot, it turns out.
The next day I made a list, and here is what we covered:
Our children, other people’s children, car accidents, insurance companies, more about our children, our children in India, college graduation, President Obama and our support of, hopes for, and frustration with him, the dire budget situation in California, property taxes, college tuition, college admissions, college sports, community college.
Sounds like a lot, right?
We also covered our parents, parents’ illnesses, parents’ marriages — second, third and so on — siblings, siblings’ spouses, traveling with siblings, whether we like our siblings, whether they like us, traveling in France, cancer, cancer treatment, causes of cancer, randomness of cancer, traveling in London, airfare, taxis versus subways in New York City (taxis won hands-down), destination weddings, welcome bags for out-of-town guests at destination weddings, who is engaged, who is in love (circling back to our kids again — of course).
A few more glasses of wine, a little more scotch, appetizers…
Cooking, recipes, the price of shrimp, biking, hockey, tennis, the French Open (why don’t they televise the doubles?), the stock market, the housing market, the housing market in Park City, Bar Mitzvahs, Facebook, email and wrong email addresses, the Huffington Post, our book group book, The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger ( a great read, by the way), jacuzzis, gardening, Great Danes, pets, the neighbor’s huge party down the street, front yard fountains.
Moving along. We weren’t done yet.
There was the smart phone app Key Ring (it’s pretty great), bald heads, hair color, vaginal whitening (a “huh?” moment), vaginal tightening (don’t ask), dermatology, curmudgeons, being drunk in Shanghai, Hangover II, (we started to watch it) Bradley Cooper and how hot he is (very), wine, scotch, how good dinner was, how amazing dessert was (a peach crumble with home-grown peaches), artwalks, basketball, fake boobs and real boobs, smoking pot (back in the day).
Then one of the men fell asleep and his wife took him home. I didn’t want to watch Hangover II,(though Bradley Cooper is really hot), so we went home, bellies full and very happy. There’s nothing like a dinner at home — mine or someone else’s.
What a great evening.