“You know I’d love to have you both over for dinner, but my oven and stove died.”

This statement was uttered by a woman, seated next to me, getting her hair permed. It was impossible not to hear the woman talk on her cell phone, as her voice was loud enough to travel across several rooms. I could tell by her remark it was going to be an interesting conversation and I listened, as the owner of the salon, snipped and cut my hair. My salon neighbor chatted with her friend, explaining how her stove and oven, just out of the blue, stopped working. “I don’t know what happened, and now, with all this pandemic stuff, it’s impossible to get parts. I’m afraid it’s going to be awhile before we’re entertaining again.“ A few minutes later, she ended the call. I looked over. She was smiling.

She turned to her stylist who was offering condolences while twisting her hair around the small pink and blue rollers. “Oh, Carla, don’t worry. My stove didn’t really die. It’s just that I’ve been cooking nonstop and it seems everyone nowadays has so many food restrictions, foods allergies or just foods they refuse to eat, that it makes entertaining nearly impossible. I was desperate and so far, my little ploy has worked like a charm.”

As I listened to the woman, I, too, thought longingly back to those days when I used to love cooking, but now, well, it’s no longer fun. I have to make sure this person doesn’t get garlic, or that person doesn’t get the vegetables with goat cheese because they’re lactose intolerant, or this one who has to follow the BRAT diet. And I have to remember which friend doesn’t eat red peppers or onions. Then there are those who are gluten free and vegetarian. I mean, it’s exhausting, I don’t remember my mother having so much trouble when she entertained. People ate what she cooked and no one, that I can recall, well, maybe except for Uncle Jim, had a food issue. But who knew that my uncle was allergic to shellfish? And who knew an allergy to shellfish could be fatal?

I remember this couple who are always inviting themselves over, because she hates to cook, suggested we serve a Mexican themed dinner. “We just love Mexican food and haven’t had it in ages. But remember, I don’t eat any beans, garlic, onions or cheese..” Talk about challenging.

I got thinking about the woman at the salon and decided that perhaps this was a good time to experiment. If I no longer had access to a stove and oven for a few weeks, maybe I, too, could get a break from entertaining.

It’s been about a month since I began my new strategy, and so far, it’s working great. I wasn’t able to dodge the first “Mexican food” bullet, but I escaped the next one.

A week ago, my cell phone rang, and I answered. It was my “no cheese, no garlic or no beans” Mexican food lover. “Oh, hello, Carol. Yes, it’s has been a while. My, how time flies. Uh huh. Really? You’ve now become a vegetarian, huh? Wow. That’s great. You know I’d love to have you both over for dinner but my oven and stove died.”

3 thoughts on ““Dodging the bullet” by Linda Freedland

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