I have a notorious little habit of showing up late. Indeed, it seems to be an ingrained Pomerantz tradition. As in, “Oh—we’re eating at noon but tell Pomerantz to come at 10 so at least they’ll be somewhat on time!” J This sticky little habit, combined with a longstanding tradition that Shabbos morning is my hallowed sleep-late treat (kindly granted to me by my children!) means that when I actually make it to a friend’s Kiddush on Shabbos morning before everyone’s long gone home, I give myself a good pat on the back! Well-deserved, no?
This week, I scored points by showing up to Rachel’s Kiddush at a pretty decent hour. As I schmoozed in Rachel’s living room this Shabbos, admiring her beautiful new daughter and the display of cakes, the conversation flowed easily—y’know, the usual: laundry, parenting, and, of course, jealously sighing about those women who somehow managed to send over their professional creations—fruit platters, mini tarts, and sinful double-chocolate ganache pie, to mention just a few. (I sent a humble, if tasty, banana chocolate-chip cake!) We were having a grand old time when I spotted my husband from the men’s side, sending that subtle, time-honored signal that means, “I’m going home, but we both know you’ll be talking for another hour at least!” It was then that I suddenly remembered The Promise.
Y’know—The Promise. I mean, how else does a mother obtain permission to leave the house sans children on a Shabbos morning if not with fervent promises of bringing some loot for those poor, abandoned, starving waifs back home? Er, at least that’s how it works in our house! Trouble is, if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s doggie-bagging. I know, I know, there are those out there with absolutely no compunctions about taking home entire platters of food (what’s a big evening bag for, anyway!). I am not a member of that particular club. But a promise is a promise, so I asked my hostess if she minded if I took home four small pieces of the aforementioned double-chocolate ganache pie. The crowd had thinned out considerably and the table was still well-laden, so my request was granted most graciously.
It triggered a memory of an article I wrote a few months ago. While the topic of the piece was invitation etiquette, one of the party planners I had interviewed had a wealth of wisdom to share on a different facet of the topic. I hadn’t been able to include it in the actual article, but it’s perfectly apropos right here, as you’ll soon see.
"When you come to a vort or a bar mitzvah, and you see all these beautiful cakes and cookies,” my interviewee began, “You should know that the ba’al simcha probably paid at least $1.50 per piece for each one of them. You’re perfectly entitled to sample the goodies—that’s the whole point of having them there. But what happens when women walk in, say mazel tov, and then take three, four, five of those fancy cookies for her kids back home?” She paused dramatically. “I’ll tell you what happens—you make your hostess look bad! She was figuring on a certain amount of cookies based on her guest list, and here you go taking a much larger amount which means that she’ll eventually run out. Guests who come when the tables are bare will walk away empty-handed, and the ba’al simcha will feel terrible about that. Not to mention how it reflects on the party planner! When people talk about the simcha later on, they’ll mention how there wasn’t enough food—‘and by the way, So-and-so was in charge of the event’…that’s the end of my reputation!”
I had never even considered that angle. Hmmm…. Talk about food for thought!