We had our neighbors over for dinner last night, and I was excited. I am primarily friends with the woman, whom I'll call Jane. She is currently a stay-at-home mom who is taking a break from a career in architecture, and is very smart, laid-back, and funny. She isn't obsessed, as many moms are, with the minutia of her son's life: she doesn't regale me with anecdotes about his feeding or bowel movements, doesn't want to compare diaper rash cream or trade pregnancy and nursing stories. It's a relief! We chat at length when we run into each other in the laundry room, gab on the phone fairly frequently, and have made many plans to go out for strolls together, plans which are always cancelled due to our kids' erratic nap schedules. I have only barely met her husband "Dave," but he seems pleasant and nice. Their son is a cute 7 month old who is cheerful and bouncy, a good playmate for my 15 month old curious and social daughter. I wanted to get to know them as a family, so last week I invited them all over for dinner.
I made the easiest thing I could think of, because it was a mid-week meal -- marinated flank steak with rice and a cold chopped salad. It takes about 20 minutes total to prep, 10 minutes to cook, and is a perennial crowd pleaser. Jane and Dave brought wine and dessert. Everyone sat down and talked comfortably together while the babies played on the floor, and my husband more or less held up our side of the conversation while I buzzed back and forth between the living room and kitchen, bringing out the cheese and bread, opening the wine, etc. It's the sacrifice a host must make, missing out on much of the conversation in favor of making sure the plates get to the table, I suppose. At any rate, I entirely missed the part where Dave explained what he did for a living, but I figured my husband would catch me up on everything when the night was over.
When we sat down to dinner, the conversation turned to our children's eating habits and food preferences, and how they relate to parental eating. We joked about their son becoming a vegan, and how horrible that would be, since both Jane and Dave are enthusiastic (though quite slim!) omnivores who eagerly took second helpings of my steak. I then upped the ante by saying, "which would be worse, your son becoming a vegan or a Republican?" Jane hesitated, and said, "well, I really love meat, so..." I continued on to say something else vague about how awful I think Republicans are, along the lines of vegans only restricting themselves while Republicans stick their noses into everyone else's lives and ruin it for everyone. There was some hemming hawing, mostly about how delicious meat is, and then my husband turned the conversation more fully onto food, expounding on various meats and fish he loves and would not want to give up.
Later, after a lovely, creamy pannacotta and offers to help us clean up, they took their son home to bed, and my husband and I sat down to digest and procrastinate. He gently poked me in the ribs and said, "Nice one about Republicans." I was mystified and gave him a confused look. He explained: "Dave went to a famously conservative college, and works for a major financial firm managing really rich people's money. Do you think he might be a Republican?"
I really hope that I didn't offend them. I don't think that all Republicans are evil, just the ones who run for political office. In fact, in my experience, most people I know who claim to be Republicans are embarrassed by their party's leaders, and since New York is so liberal, I tend to assume that most people feel similarly to me about the Republican party.
But I guess that's why they say Never assume. It makes an ass our of you and me. I guess I'll find out if they hate me if Jane starts ignoring my calls!