Gotham Diary:
Party Planner

Tomorrow, we are going to have a party. It will begin in the middle of the afternoon, as a tea party, with just that: tea and coffee and lots of sweets. Later, a plate of cheeses will appear, along with carafes of white wine. Later still, I’ll bring out a roast tenderloin of beef, accompanied by oversized dinner rolls (or undersized hamburger rolls, if you prefer) and appropriate condiments. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Now that it’s too late to make any real changes, I’m sorry that I didn’t “make more of an effort.”

For example, I could have made my own cheesecake, and bought two fewer  cakes from William Greenberg. (My own cheesecake is to die for, although strangely it hasn’t killed me yet. It is really a custard composed of quarts of cream, tubs of cream cheese, and — well, not dozens of eggs, but it feels like it. (Somewhere in there is a little sugar and vanilla.) How about a plate of deviled eggs? And those ham rolls, stuffed with (yet more) cream cheese. Why didn’t I go through my records, such as they are, and concoct a sentimental journey through parties past?

You’re reading the reason why I didn’t. The site, I mean. I wasn’t about to turn my back on it for a few days while I fooled around in the kitchen. Since the beginning of the new year, I’ve juggled two priorities: writing as much as I can here, with three entries a day on weekdays and the Grand Hours on the weekend; and spending time with my grandson and his parents. Plus all the everyday stuff (it pains me that women who read this will have such a clear and distinct idea of what this means, while to men it will be a vague business, not to be looked at too closely). Now, in order to have something to write about, I have to do a few more or less interesting things, not to mention a lot of reading. Add a few hours a week for managing the music library, take note of the fact that, at 63, I’ve slowed down a bit, and bear in mind that Kathleen and I talk with one another more every day than the average married couple does in a week (and then double that), and you’ll see why I have no time for party planning. Not yet, anyway.

That I’m sitting down doodling, the night before anywhere up to fifty people fill our apartment, about this and that, instead of panicking — well, it’s partly old age, and the loss of ambition that comes with experience. But it’s also the really extraordinary amount of time that I’ve put into putting the house in order. Well-arranged closets don’t have any direct bearing on the success of a party, but they do conduce to a well-arranged host, one whose mind is not cluttered with half-forgotten details about where things are. Not where things having anything to do with a party are. Just things. Stuff. I’ve been de-Collyerizing the apartment, seriously and methodically, for eighteen months now.

Even so, I can’t find the apple-green cake stand that I’d completely forgotten about until I came across it a week or so ago — but where? It would come in handy with all the cakes that I’ll be serving. But it doesn’t matter, because in the end the party won’t be about the cakes that I bought and the hors d’oeuvres that I didn’t make. It’ll be about the friends who show up, some of whom, in the classic New York manner, we won’t have seen since our last party. I trust that we haven’t mislaid any of them.