In Which Clueless Couple Attend Modern-Day Equivalent of the Tupperware Party

This suburban-living thing can be tricksy.  People are friendly and welcoming: neighbours seek to include us in street-based goings-on.  Unfortunately I am not at my best ten minutes after completing my sweltering commute, unable to appear interested in anything but a cold shower.   My raised eyebrow and sneer at the necessity of introducing myself is a product not of any desire to be an arse, but of my rather exhausting current lifestyle.

It feels as though people are spying on me when they drop casually into conversation that they ‘see us’ doing things, by way of hopeful prompting that we will solve some conundrum for them.  Cycling *gasp* where do we go every morning, or having a man round to coax the lawn to greener behaviour and do you think he’s good value?  I took delivery of this parcel for you earlier (what is it?) and I see you’ve just got back so here it is.

Here!  Have a cold glass of MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.  I fight that yelled explosion all the time and collectively, the neighbours are perilously close to venturing across my line.  It’s been 3 months and I’ve had more neighbourly-interaction than I had in 25 years in London.  I’m an introvert, so this stresses me out.

It appears there is protocol attached to interaction around here, and it’s confusing in its complexity. I was saddened that we will miss the street party, until militant precision and borderline OCD became associated with it.   Can’t we all just have a BBQ and some drinks outside our houses?  Do there have to be games (beginning at 3.50pm) involving specially-mandated labelled beanbags?

However, last week I would have gone to the opening of an envelope if it held the potential to mitigate the hideous embarrassment of the Provincials’ locked-out disaster.  And so it was that K-man and I responded positively to a Pampered Chef Cooking Show invite.

Sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it?   I didn’t google it, so my mind’s eye saw flaming woks, ginger and lemongrass.  Would I finally learn how to perfectly poach an egg into a fig-shape?   How excellent, I thought – a neighbour who’s a professional chef!  I thought neighbours would be lounging about in a kitchen chatting and getting to know each other.  I thought I’d be able to leave without mortally wounding someone if the going got tough.

Clutching a bottle of wine (not protocol) I rang the doorbell.  Oh, Ah, said the host.  I’m sorry, well you’re most welcome but K-man you will be the only man there. K-man was undeterred (not protocol).  After all, in my house the patriarchy is somewhat quelled and he does cook.  And clean.  And do laundry.  All while I surf the internet and belch.  Evidently that’s unusual around these parts.

Praise lard, a glass of wine made it swiftly into my hand.  Everyone was smiley but clearly bowled over that a man was attending.  It became clear that the ‘chef’ was not a neighbour.  No, she was someone who had clearly been a Holiday Rep in a previous life and hadn’t stepped away from the in-home sunbed ever since.  She was lovely, just not my cup of tea.

Wine.  Glug!

This was a sales event where the products were a range of single-function kitchen gadgets.  Avocado-peeler, anyone?  Hm.  I’ve always managed fine without a specially-curved ergonomic blade made of fossilised trilobite-excretia, thanks.

K-man tired of being observed after half an hour and politely took his leave.

Glug!

I already had the feeling that I was at a friendly version of the Annual General Meeting of the Stepford Wives’ political section. Then, things took a turn for the even more cult-ish.

“Now.  Who has the i-Slice?”

Hands shot up.

“Do you love it?”

“Yes!”

“Tell us why you love it.  What do you use the i-Slice for?”

Rinse and repeat through the adjustable measuring-spoons and the *gasp* ice-cream scoop with anti-freeze in it, ‘discovered’ by our Pampered Chef 7 years ago.  Some of the fifteen-or-so assembled women had clearly been to numerous evenings and possessed the entire product catalogue.  They were salivating for the new! products! Their kitchens must be heaving at the seams.

“It’s like Desperate Housewives around here you know!  Ha ha ha!  Do you watch it?”

No.  Glug!

While the 1970’s-style cooked chicken cubed on a baguette brushed with olive oil and spices and topped with mozzarella was baking, we were told how great it is to work for Pampered Chef or to host your own evening (these are delicately nuanced distinct activities, it seems).

Yes, you get free incentive holidays or jewelry, you’re your own boss, and you get free kitchen products!

Ooh, Aaah.  Glug!

I have every respect for women who want all these things, but I am not one of them and so I was focussing on how I might extricate myself and claw back some of my evening.  There was no way.  Even with my limited understanding of protocol, I knew I would be heading straight for Pariahville if I just got up and left (let alone without buying anything!).  Of course, the entire sales-strategy is predicated upon this.

Eventually it came time to sell your soul order your gadgets.  I got away with only a slightly-lightened wallet.  In response to questioning about my desire to become a Pampered Chef or host an event (!) I rated my feelings a 2/10, which I view as unfailingly generous.  It was 11pm and I just wanted to go home.

I’m going to take my new generous-in-spirit approach to life and say that it was nice to be invited, it was a little glimpse of a world I will never inhabit, and I will simply politely decline future events.  Protocol-compliant or otherwise though that might be.

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6 Responses to “In Which Clueless Couple Attend Modern-Day Equivalent of the Tupperware Party”


  1. 1 Ashley July 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I was going to write a comment of the fun ways you could mess up a party like this, but then I thought, if you would like to develop some neighborly goodwill, maybe organize something yourself, on your own terms?

    For example, gathering a group of neighbors to work together on a volunteer project. Working at a soup kitchen or a block-wide garage sale with proceeds to charity, or cooking/preparing meal & supplies packages to hand out to homeless folks?

    Now – this might give them more opportunity to be all up in your business, but it would score you some neighbor points and make an impression as to the type of activities you’d like to do. And if no one wants to do it, maybe they’ll stop asking you to their stuff because they feel guilty for not getting involved with a worthy cause.

  2. 2 Jonathan July 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

    “Here! Have a cold glass of MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.”

    Best. Quote. Ever.

  3. 3 Lena July 5, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Glug indeed! Love your writing & those parties are just torture.

  4. 4 pilgrimchick July 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I truly wonder if ANYONE actually enjoys events like this one. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

  5. 5 Another Mother July 6, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Getting a good chuckle over your Pampered Chef Party. I am a suburban housewife who does not cook. I LOVE to announce that one – just to see the look on their faces.

    I have been suckered into going to a jewelery party and a rubber stamp party. Watch out for those!

    However, I am a good neighbor. And if you lived near me – You would have been welcomed with a pot of flowers and a good bottle of wine.

    I always enjoyed your writing at the Women’s Colony.

    P.S. – I think we purchased our in-laws at the same store.

  6. 6 Jenn @ Juggling Life July 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

    I am the epitome of suburban and even I don’t go to Pampered Chef parties!


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