Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More on Regifting (Food)

You get a last minute invite to a party. You're wondering what to bring. You think: "Oh, I've got that great bottle of...oh wait I can't bring it. It's already opened."

You are counseled not to show up to a party with "used food," be it an already test-driven bottle of rum or a coffee cake with an AWOL corner. To me, bringing "used" items seem perfectly reasonable, and in the future I will no longer bow to this perverse convention.

Have any of you ever stayed until the end of a party? There are always multiple tables sagging under the weight of uneaten quesadillas, still virginal pies, and neglected punch that's becoming less festive by the minute. And the fridge is so packed with barely touched treats you have to seal the door with a blow-torch. Is this really necessary?

No party - not even wedding receptions - ever has as many attendees as the host expects, so the food the host prepares himself is usually more than enough. Then the few stragglers who do show up bring their fully intact desserts, entrees, and libations, and thus every party results in enough wasted cake to reverse the French Revolution. Seems to me if everyone brought partly consumed but still delicious food and beverages, there would be far less food still loitering around after the last partier has found his way to the door.

I hope you like irony, because guess what happens after the party? There is a mad dash to give everything away before it spoils. You're pawning off pies on neighbors. You're hauling miles of brownie into work. Somehow, that's not considered inappropriate. Not only is it the only form of regifting that is acceptable, it makes you the office darling for a week. Regift a few cupcakes with time-stiffened frosting and even the HR folks will wink at you.

What is it about a party that makes it unacceptable to bring something "used?" And you're only busted on this if your bring a pie, a cake, or booze. If you bring six homemade cookies, no one assumes you baked a whole tray and only shared part of it. For all they know, you could have shotgunned the other 46 on the ride over. The problem with a partly eaten cake is that it is a smoking gun. Hard not to notice the slice-shaped chasm in the middle of your Bundt. I always explain the missing piece by saying I baked it in the shape of a Pac-Man.

By the way, no one likes parties anyway. People dread them. That's why everyone shows up late. People mainly hold parties to do a headcount of their friends, and people mainly attend them to curry favor with significant others, or to do some social climbing at work. Parties are either a roll-call or an especially awkward day at the office, so why inflict more pain by forcing everyone to make a trip to the store to find something "new" to bring?

Oh, I forgot tell you: I'm holding a party tonight. That 93% full bottle of rye you have? The one you've had so long it's now able to drink in bars without a fake ID? Don't bring it to my party where it might be appreciated and put to use. No sir! I demand you let it continue stewing as you sprint to the nearest wine shop in search of the cheapest non-cheap-looking Chardonnay you can find.

My Twitter feed wants to party all the time: https://twitter.com/greatMikePayne

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