Sunday, April 15, 2012

Monsoon Dinner Theater

Who wants to go to a boring snooze fest of a dinner party and sit around and stare at the other guests, trying to make polite conversation without yawning over dessert? Not the Intrigue Family! We decided to gather up a couple of families with kids and have a casual, kid friendly afternoon and evening at our place. In that regard, we invited a couple of friends over. For the sake of anonymity, how about we call the first family George and Martha Washington, due to their Virginia/D.C. connections? (Yes, I know that D.C. wasn’t the capitol when Washington was POTUS, but it is named after him, so work with me.) The second family, we’ll call The Livingstones since they lived in Africa for a while. We also hosted a friend on leave from attending a school in Pakistan who we’ll call Ed, because…that’s not his name. With a combined half dozen kids, that rounded out the evening’s attendance.

I planned on keeping things simple, which is unusual for me. Stateside, I look at having people over for dinner as having a captive audience to try a new recipe and make a bunch of appetizers. Over here, I seem to have lost my cooking mojo, so I made pasta salad and decided to marinate and grill some chicken breasts. Since we didn’t bring our grill with us, I bought a one time use grill at Arpico Supercenter. That’s also where I did battle at the meat counter for the last of the boneless chicken breasts. Shopping over here is a lot of work, Fellow Adventurers.

Anyway, after we sat around enjoying each others’ company and some frosty adult beverages for a bit, it was time to fire up the grill. That was the first folly in our little dinner party. Once out of the package, it was apparent the thing was thinner than a single use aluminum pan. Hmm. It also included charcoal and “special igniting paper” and looked like it might hold two chicken breasts at a time. We all got a good laugh out of it as I sent The International Man of Intrigue outside to try to light it while I dodged scootering, biking, running and crawling children to get to the kitchen to fire up the oven as a Plan B. It’s a good thing there was a Plan B because the “special igniting paper” on the grill didn’t even light, let alone the charcoal. Into the oven went the chicken.

Thirty minutes later, the chicken was done and it was time to convince the house full of Little Explorers to stop moving for five seconds and at least eat a bite before running off to play again. About that time, it started raining. Good thing we went with Plan B—I don’t want to grill outside in a monsoon! Just as the grown ups started filling their plates, it happened. It started with Mrs. Livingstone and I putting chicken on our plates and saying, “Did you feel that mist coming down from the ceiling?” The next thing we knew, Mr. Livingstone and Mr. Washington had sprung into action, grabbing the “Waterfall Preparedness Kit” aka, buckets, (leftover from this crisis the other night)stacked in the corner and shoving them under the stream of water coming in from the skylight. All the gentlemen got the table and chairs out of the way and got buckets set up while we moved the Little Adventurers upstairs for movies and the grown ups into the family dining room to eat.

This was when the biggest tragedy of the evening struck: The chicken was bone dry. It tasted like sawdust with Italian seasoning on it. Ugh. Never mind that the steady stream from the roof had turned into a deluge, forcing Mr. Washington, Mr. Livingstone, The International Man of Intrigue, and Ed to empty 10 gallon buckets and 16 gallon tubs, lest they overflow and add to the lake forming on the tile floor of the formal dining room. The chicken was dry, people. Dry.

Despite that obstacle, dinner went on and soon enough it was time for dessert. The waterfall in the dining room had even turned back into a small stream. Perfect. Rich people pay big bucks for water features in their houses and we have one that everyone can enjoy over dessert. Then, just as I was brewing coffee and passing out water for tea, the power went out. Total darkness engulfed the house. Luckily, before we could even find flashlights to go out and fire up the generator, it was back on.

Once the power was on and dinner was finished, the Little Explorers all figured out that splashing in the dining room was oh, so much fun. The little Washington boy was even jealous that he didn’t have a waterfall and puddles in his dining room.

After everyone packed up and headed home to deal with their own ceiling drips, I put our Little Explorers to bed while The International Man of Intrigue finished bailing the water on the floor. While we did the dishes, we remarked that, even though it wasn’t your typical dinner party, it sure was funny.

(In all seriousness, as I post this, tornadoes are ripping through my home state of Kansas. I hope all my family and friends are safe and sound and not hosting a dinner party.)

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