Torturing the Guests

William Macy in Edmond


Over the weekend, we hosted a small family birthday party. We had chosen the movie Edmond for the post-dinner entertainment, confident that none of our guests had seen it, since no one has, except for us and some disgruntled reviewers.

As we watched the movie, I began to regret choosing it. Maybe the guests weren’t in the mood to watch someone kicking the shit out of a pimp while screaming “Nigger! Coon!” or stabbing a waitress with such gusto that the squishing sounds are even worse that the images. I felt guilty for imposing such an ordeal on six innocent (or at least, fairly innocent) people. The movie is a bleak and punishing exploration of White Male Rage, but my husband and I find it hilarious.

My nephew and his girlfriend watched with wide grins on their faces, so that was a relief. I’m not too sure about the others. At least I found a reviewer who regards Edmond as a black comedy. See it at your own risk.

After the movie, we continued to eat and drink. The conversation turned to music festivals and LSD. I recalled a guy I knew who took some acid at a rock festival and never returned to his normal self. His blue eyes remained bugged out with paranoia and who knows what.

Now my nephew took issue with my description of tripping as a psychotic state. He argued about the meaning of psychotic. He denied that the patterns you see on LSD are hallucinations. The argument became increasingly energetic. Others joined in to try to define the word hallucination. My husband got our nephew to agree that if you saw a talking cow, it would be a hallucination. Unless there really was a talking cow in the room, then no.

The nephew’s adorable girlfriend gave an improvised performance of an acid-induced anxiety attack brought on by needing to pee.  Her body language was perfect. It reminded me how grateful I am to not be tripping.

Now we started to argue about using the word ‘read’ as a noun. I find it unbearable. Don’t ask “Is it a good read?” when you mean “Is it a good book?” or “Is it a good essay?” Our nephew strenuously defended this usage, just to be annoying, but complained about using ‘gift’ as a verb. Voices were raised and dictionaries consulted. The word ‘curator’ turned out to mean something so broad that if you buy into the Merriam-Webster definition, you can rightly call yourself a curator of anything you’re in charge of, like nail polish or goldfish.  Fuck that. I need the OED definition, or something else that I can agree with.

The guests stayed until around 2 a.m., but I couldn’t help feeling that somehow I had failed miserably as a hostess. But maybe tormenting people is preferable to boring them? I don’t know. However, that’s been my assumption and operating procedure for as long as I can remember, and I’m too old to change.

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14 Responses to Torturing the Guests

  1. caroline says:

    sounds like an excellent party, and I loathe the modern usage of the word curate in all it’s variations. so unspeakably pretentious, unless you are speaking of the parish healer.

  2. Dana says:

    If people are having a terrible time, they don’t stay until 2.

    I am a paranoid hostess too now for everyone but family. Hell , I’m even freaky about parents of my kids’ friends, fearing we’ll expose ourselves and our kids will be social lepers.

    I’d rather have friends that ask me to think about stuff than ones who just want me to stuff my face and be nice. How boring is that? Come to think of it, that’s how I manage dinner at my mother in law’s. sigh.

  3. Beth says:

    Voices raised? Dictionaries consulted? That alone sounds like a perfect night to me, and one that I have all too often — with my friends, though. Immediate family and I scream about politics and/or what Nancy Grace is obsessed with now, but the extended family never has anything so interesting (or maddening) to discuss except who drank too much last weekend and one-sentence assessments of Michael Moore films. Give me your party any day.

    Points against your nephew for spending a breath defending, “Is this a good read?” Ugh.

  4. ali says:

    I like the way “read” is used on RUPAUL’s drag race. I think “curate” is misused if the speaker affects an air of professionalism about their collection, whatever it may be. But whatever. It sounds like the perfect evening!

    I’ll check out my nearest hipster rental place for Edmond.


  5. Suspended says:

    The only person you’ve been torturing is yourself. Cut yourself some slack! It sounds like a perfect evening to me, and one I’ve not had in a long, long time.

  6. Sandra says:

    Did you serve snacks and drinks? Did your bathroom have toilet paper? If you answered yes to these questions, you did fine.

    Patni and I pretty much only use the word “curate” sarcastically, like I use the word “sir”.

  7. xve says:

    I feel like we need gift as a verb, becasue how can we “regift” if we can’t gift?

  8. Muffy says:

    Sister, I would have stabbed a waitress to attend a party hosted by you. Must watch this movie…

  9. Cricket9 says:

    Sounds like a great evening to me. Nothing worse than insipid and polite conversation about things you don’t give a shit about, like what someone’s husband/children/grandchildren like for breakfast, or about some guy known only to the narrator, who did very well in real estate in Florida. Seriously, I sat recently through a few lunches, considering stabbing the company with the fork out of boredom. Your party tough – a black comedy (or not?), lively discussion about drugs and hallucinations, words’ use (almost) everyone hates – I wish I could join. No worries, you’re a great hostess.

  10. Cricket9 says:

    BTW, Ali, nice wedding outfit from that Paco Rabbane’s collection…

  11. Nephew Russell says:

    We didn’t stay until 2. We stayed until (almost) 3. You succeeded wildly as a hostess.

    And you’re still wrong about hallucinations, psychosis, “read” as a verb (which I defend on the grounds that it’s not interchangeable with “book,” “essay,” “piece” etc.–there’s a substantial change in meaning when you switch them), and everything else that I’m right about.

  12. Beth says:

    I think everyone else involved in this terrific party should join Nephew Russell and re-hash the night on your comments page. See, Sister, they can’t stop talking about it!

  13. Cricket9 says:

    I like feisty nephews.

  14. Julie says:

    I too hate ‘read’ as a noun. I also hate it when people mix up averse/adverse, and leery/weary/wary.

    I especially hate the proliferation of people adding ‘Go ahead and’ to an already adequate sentence.
    For example, I just read “Go ahead and put a new box of baking soda in the fridge.”

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