I always love to host a mahjongg game at my house. There's nothing to it, really. It's always a wonderful experience when the girls come over. We play and chat and nosh and play some more. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.
First I decide when. Friday nights work best for me, even though I work full time. I do so envy my retired friends (and one self-proclaimed "bum") who get to lounge around all day and play whenever they want to. That's my goal, but for now I have to be content with a sort of regular Friday night game, a tournament every month or so, some online playing when I'm not burned out from sitting at a computer all day, and an occasional weekend invitation to fill in. So Friday it is, although Saturday night is another alternative. It's not like I hit the clubs anymore.
Next it's "who" - Who's available? So-and-so is in Florida. This one goes to the country house. That one works alternate Friday nights. Sheila has a wedding. Myra who just recuperated from knee surgery now injured her wrist. I send out an all-purpose e-mail on Tuesday, Wednesday the latest. Then I go through the responses: Who else is playing? Is so-and-so playing? She was so slow last time. Oh, I can't play with (blank). Can I let you know on Thursday? Do you still have that dog? I can't come unless someone drives me. How late are we playing? Don't ask me to pick anyone up. Can you give me a lift? Does your husband still smoke those cigars? I couldn't breathe last time. Can you turn down the thermostat? Can you turn up the thermostat? What's the pie? I pick ahead, is that all right? Can I bring my friend? She hasn't played in fifteen years, but she'll pick it up quick.
Eventually it shakes out and five people say they can make it. I send a confirmation e-mail to all five so everyone knows who else is playing, and although no one has walked out on me yet, we don't want anyone to feel ambushed.
Ack! It's Thursday night! The girls (and possibly guy) are coming tomorrow after work! I run around frantically picking up dirty socks, chewed-up dog bones and vacuuming up popcorn kernels. Dirty ashtrays get washed. What? Friday morning already? Better clean the cat box now and tell the other half the girls are coming tonight. "But I want to watch my horror movies," he says. I tell him to watch them upstairs. "And no smoking."
Friday lunchtime - time to buy the nosh. This has evolved into a highly sophisticated art form. Factors to consider: Who is on Weight Watchers? Who is pretending to be on Weight Watchers? Are the salty people coming or the chocolate people? Was it carrot cake Arlene didn't like or banana bread? Does Rena take decaf or regular? Seltzer? Diet Coke or Pepsi? Should I bother buying fruit since hardly anyone eats it? Well, I can have it during the week. Rhonda will like the chocolate covered pretzels. (Who am I kidding? I like chocolate covered pretzels.) God, nuts are so expensive now! How come Trader Joe only has ten-pound bags? What will I do with the leftovers? Better get things the birds and squirrels will eat, I don't have any grandchildren - yet. (Are you listening my only child who is 31?)
Okay, back to work. What? You want me to work late? But the girls are coming. What's more important? Whew, made it out by five. An hour to get home (yes, an hour on the subway even though I only live eight miles from work). Spread out the goodies, set up the table, count my $7 in quarters, dimes and nickles. Five minutes left to wolf down a chicken leg for dinner. There's the bell! Quiet, Barky! Down! Down!
Everyone arrives on time. Oh, no, Sharon bought a microwave dinner from the Zone. I didn't clean the microwave! Aahhhhh....oh, well, now the world knows about my subpar housekeeping. But we play, we chat, we nosh, we play some more. A good time is had by all.