When I first was married, I didn’t have much. We didn’t have much. I was extremely naive in the ways of the world, and made it my mission in life to improve myself and become knowledgeable in social niceties. I envied the security, the comfort – the mysterious, glamorous life that other people seemed to lead.
I craved normality.
When we -first husband and I – moved into our own home, married and me away from oppression home at the tender age of 20, I decided to host a dinner party. This was my chance to prove I had found myself, I was no longer the child of a dysfunctional home, I was an adult. I had MADE IT. See what I am capable of? See Jane run. Run Jane, run.
I was so sophisticated, you know. I had it all planned out, organised to the last detail. The table was set beautifully, with cloth and candle, place mats of cork. Reflections from the apricot taper candle flame dancing on the Zajecar crystal candle holders. I used our sophisticated wedding gifts – Bohemia Crystal champagne glasses, Rodd silverware, Pottery House pottery dishes. Dried flowers, the centerpiece magnifique. The eighties were so tasteful, weren’t they?
The guests arrived, some with gifts, as is often the case. A potted plant – devils ivy, to climb up the brass planter pole in the lounge room. (Living rooms were not an Australian term back then – at least not for Western Australians). A bottle of Mattues Rose, a bunch of dried roses in a cane basket or apricot raffia swag. The Travelling Wibury’s LP. Oh yes, my friends had class.
The food, I believed, was divine. I had worked all day. Shopped all week, stressed all month. The cheese ball served in a warm Cobb loaf. The pineapple cubes and red cocktail onions on sticks. The cucumber soup, chilled to the right degree, to be spooned from the outer edge (I am a slave to etiquette). The main course, chicken with Camembert cheese, sunbeam fry panned to perfection with a salad served in an arcoroc bowl with matching side plates. I probably used the arcoroc punchbowl too.
The dessert, a home made black forest cake. Arcoroc plates, cake forks.
And my very, very sophisticated finish, The coffee, spooned into my brand new PYREX percolator set to brew with love and fill the house with the smell of comfort, a successful relationship, a FUNCTIONAL, normal home with normal people enjoying a normal meal. With coffee that was not a nescafe moment.
I retired to await the coffee with the smugness of one who has provided the ultimate in fine dining, food and service. The hostess with the mostest. Proof that one can rise above their perceived social standing attributed at birth.
After a while, I went to check on my beloved. The water dripped clear. Where was my anticipated, rich, brown aroma of ferking, percking coffee? Where was the divine looking caffeine fix, the ultimate ending to the ultimate dinner? WHERE WAS THE LOVE, DAMMIT?
I returned to my guests, forlorn. I was to inform them of the news. There was something wrong with the coffee percolator. I am so sorry. For all my personal perfection, I could not control the machine. PYREX would hear from me. Ohhh yes, indeed. Their fault had cost me my pride, my dinner party was ruined. I was devastated. I was outraged. I was shamed.
A guest went to check.
I heard a peal of laughter from the kitchen, followed by a second peal in the dining room. Dare I listen? Softly a guest whispered in my ear.
No one told me you had to grind the effing beans first.