Bob would have loved the neighborhood Dinner Club. He loved good food, drinks, and convivial company. But joining meant hosting once a year — and back then, with all the piles of stuff around, I wouldn’t have let anyone in the house. I regret now that I was never able to find a way to organize the house so that was acceptable to both of us. As for Dinner Club, after his death I eventually joined with a neighbor who’d been a member with her late husband and needed a partner. For the first few years, we hosted at her house and I brought the food. Last weekend, I hosted at mine.
At table, neighbors shared stories of cleaning for Dinner Club. Yes, I was shocked. I’d spent all week putting things away and cleaning, but somehow I thought everyone else was neat all the time and never traumatized like me. One neighbor said that when she hosted, she’d cleaned for days, then happened to look up and see a big dust-web stretched across the ceiling. I was still smiling about this after everyone left. Then I went into the breakfast room, where we’d organized the hot dishes for dinner, and there, looping across the light fixture, was a long string of web. Dang. At least my neighbor found hers before the guests came. I’ll have to hope my guests kept their eyes on the food. The next day, sitting at the dining table, my attention strayed to the plants in the window – and there on the bottom of the Christmas cactus’ plant stand, shining in the sunlight, was the silver tangle of yet another web.
I was so sure I’d dusted every surface. Maybe spiders like convivial company too, and came out to spin while we were spinning stories. I hope so.
Here’s a photo of my table: I don’t have sets of fine china and crystal like other members do, so I have Vintage Dinner Club with my mismatched flatware collection, Bob’s mother’s tablecloths, my grandmother’s linen and glassware, and fiestaware pieces that my mother, Bob’s mother, my aunt, and friends’ family members gave me. I love using their things. It gives me a thread of connection to the people who made my life.