Ammo Grrrll laments THESE THINGS WON’T COME THIS WAY AGAIN. She writes:
I got to thinking about this topic when I proposed an outing to my bestie here that involved several different stops. (No, absolutely NOT the kind of outing in which it is revealed that Superman now has switched teams, or at least plays for both. I would have thought the flamboyant skin-tight outfit – WITH a cape, no less – would have been a clue.)
What I am thinking of here is a social outing in the Dusty Little Village that begins on a popular local coffeehouse patio for Happy Hour Wine Tasting, and then moves on to a Mexican restaurant and then ends up at our house for coffee and Banana Fudge Cake. Who says those things don’t go together?
Way back in the day, the ladies of the ’50s came up with a name for such an event – a “Progressive (spit) Dinner Party.” The idea was to have an appetizer at one house, then move on to the entrée at a second house, and have dessert and coffee at a third. It meant less work for the hostesses and was a novel idea that had a brief moment in the sun. I think Mama may have done it all of twice before it fell out of favor along with the “Come As You Are Party” wherein a hostess would call her friends at odd hours and tell them they had to come to the party wearing whatever they had on at that moment.
So there might be a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ outfit, a nightgown and some gardening togs, depending on the time of day one was called. Unlike the modern-day Hallowe’en party, every woman did not strive to look like a hooker. In fact, at costume parties I have attended, about half the women CAME as hookers.
But not at Mama’s parties: It was the ’50s. And Minnesota. Probably even the nightgown was flannel. Plus I suspected that if someone had on a particularly unflattering outfit when the party-giver phoned, she just lied and said they had just that minute been trying on this evening gown for alterations. You betcha.
By the way, the men HATED the Progressive Dinner Party. They were just getting comfortable in the host’s den, smoking, having a relaxing adult libation, eating the odd little appetizer that Marge had found in a magazine – was that a VEGETABLE? — when the wives announced that they were moving on to Dorothy’s house for the Pot Roast, but not to get too comfy, because they would end up at Ginny’s for the Lemon-Marshmallow-Graham Cracker Icebox Dessert Surprise.
Many decades later, in St. Paul, there was a restaurant called “Just Desserts” that men were not crazy about either. Though my man was and remains a big fan of dessert in general, he thought it was pointless and stupid to have to forage for it. The idea that you had to go from your nice warm restaurant where they served perfectly good desserts and drive to and park at yet ANOTHER place with very expensive desserts was not appealing. It’s probably a woman thing like guest soaps and throw pillows. As I recall, the place went out of business fairly quickly. Sad.
Here’s another party that came and went. When we were young marrieds, with an entertainment budget of $7.16 per month, we would sometimes buy a gallon bottle of Gallo Spanada for just under $2.00 and – wait for it! – slice up some lemons, limes and oranges into it and call it Sangria! Invite the crowd!
This was a giddy level of sophistication as you can imagine and required a Punch Bowl that many of us got as a wedding present or inherited from our mother who had used the bulky, space-devouring thing three or four times in a long, long marriage. (Two high school graduations and a bridal shower.) Mine was fake crystal with a dozen tiny cups and hooks with which to hang the cups around the rim of the bowl. Layers and layers of sophistication. Quick: when was the last time you used or even saw a Punch Bowl? You can find one for about $3.00 at any garage sale, but I’m guessing the owner will be open to severe negotiations, to the point that she might pay YOU to take it. Store it in your garage until you have a garage sale.
I don’t want to get all Q-Anon-y on you, but I have also noticed the disturbing disappearance of JELL-O from the menus of American home cooks. At some roadside diners, I have seen some artifacts, featured in a little glass case that turns around very slowly, the better to display the tempting globs of Day-Glo colors. But I have never seen anybody order it. It seems to me we used to have it several times a week when I was a kid, but the last time I had it, I bought it pre-made at Walmart for a colonoscopy prep regimen. That was many years ago, my first and also my last such procedure.
Speaking of childhood delights – JELL-O, not colonoscopies — though I was not Catholic, I was very happy that our public school happily accommodated the meatless Friday requirements of devout Catholics. The two offerings, which alternated, were Macaroni and Cheese and Fishsticks, two of my favorites. I do not know, but I am guessing that today’s schools do not accommodate Catholics except by accident in offering vegan options. Besides, I understand that the meatless Friday has gone the way of the sainthood of Christopher and the planetary status of Pluto. Sad. I cannot imagine eating pork, but I keep hoping some Rabbinic Body reconsiders the prohibition on seafood. It’s been a few thousand years, guys. Sigh.
So those are just a few of the Things That Won’t Come Our Way Again. There are more, but time and space prevent elaboration: Poodle Skirts, Saddle Shoes, encyclopedias, free-range kids, voting in person, The First Amendment, responsibility, accountability, the southern border, women’s-only sports, investigative journalism, equal justice before the law, heroic white men in film, privacy, the shadow of a penumbra of an emanation in the Constitution that would prevent an entity from giving a Citizen the choice between a shot and starvation. Just to name a few others.
I really liked Saddle Shoes but can get along without them.
A southern border, not so much.