Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Tupperware Party

When our youngest son started Kindergarten, I went to work part time as a church secretary. It was important that I get to know the ladies there, since there were monthly jobs that needed the cooperation of many hands, and the more people who knew and liked me, the quicker those jobs would go. One of those jobs was folding, stapling and sorting the monthly newsletter, and that was either a four day or a four hour project, depending on whether or not I had to do it alone.

One of the first things I was asked to do in order to get to know the ladies was to attend a Tupperware party. I was working for the money so I could have things like food and clothing for the family, with maybe some extra books and music thrown in, not plastic containers, so I had no real desire to go, but as it would assist me in getting to know these ladies, that's what I did. They got to know me a little better than I had planned. Luckily most of them were very nice ladies.

We had punch and cookies, then sat for the dramatic demonstration of all those things we absolutely had to have. I kept thinking of my big kitchen with nearly no cupboards. No woman had ever designed that disaster of a kitchen. It was so poorly planned I couldn't believe it. The only thing it lacked more than cupboards was counter space. There was plenty of floor, but little else.

The first problem I caused at the party came when, for some reason (maybe because everyone seemed to be trying to get to know me) the demonstration lady turned to me and asked what I did with leftovers. I simply burst out laughing. "Leftovers! My husband is six foot seven and I have three sons, ages five, nine, and thirteen. I don't even know what a leftover is. No matter how much I cook, they eat it." The woman just stood there with her mouth open, literally, while everyone laughed. She never spoke to or looked at me for the rest of the evening. I wasn't sure she'd even give me a catalog at the end, although she did (not that I ordered anything).

The second problem came when we were all sitting around with our little plates balanced on our knees, trying not to spill anything. The catalog orders were being taken at the kitchen table, and I had nothing to buy, so people kept coming by to talk to the new secretary. That was nice. They were gently ribbing me about my leftovers comment, but it was all in god fun. I had been honest, and they somehow thought that was charming. I almost pictured getting out of there without having another major foot in mouth moment.

Then there was a knock on the door and another lady joined the mix. She was way beyond late, but had brought her brand new baby along. He was about two weeks old, and this was the first time many of the ladies had gotten to see him. The mom hadn't wanted to see the demonstration, but she had wanted a chance to support the hostess and make an order. While she grabbed a catalog, the ladies took turns passing her little son around, while he slept soundly in one pair of arms after another. A sweet great-grandmother named Polly sat right next to me. When she got the little boy she turned to me, and was the center of attention as she said, "It means you're getting old when you see a baby and want to hold it, and hug it, and love on it, and you no longer want to take it home!"

Without even thinking, I responded, and unfortunately all the ladies heard me. "What does it mean when you feel that way about men?"

It's a good thing these were such great ladies. I made good friends that night. I accidentally let them see the real me. I forgot to wear that polite public mask, and it separated the real friends from the judgmental women I needed to be careful around. It was like culling the herd in fast forward. I think every new girl in town should be given a Tupperware party.

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