Dear Helen Hartman,
I came home from work dead tired and just wanted to rest in peace but I had a dinner party planned. Even though my feet were killing me, I worked my fingers to the bone to make everything nice but the whole thing ground to a grave ending. Many of the guests were late. Others were just lifeless. While others departed early. I’m not expecting heaven on earth but I’d love to know was there anything I could have done to resurrect the party without causing myself a lot of grief?
UnDear to the UnDead One,
It doesn’t take a lot of brai-ai-ai-ai-nnns to know what the problem is here.
|Not enough Valium in your home canned fruits and jams?|
If you read the news - okay, if you scan the shout lines on the sites you go to for celeb gossip - you know they are everywhere. It’s only reasonable to assume some of them will be showing up at your home eventually.
|Oh great here come Lois and Ned, I heard they've become mindless, droning Zombies - of course with them it's not that much of a change, really.|
Being the host or hostess extraordinaire that you are, you will want to be prepared. Never fear, Helen has the answers to all your Zombie etiquette - or Zombetiquette - needs.
Oh alright, Adele Whitely Fletcher has the answers, from the Amy Vanderbilt Success Program for Women (this one copyright 1963) but Helen has had the presence of mind to adapt those answers to the modern age – let’s take a look at what I am calling a Success for Life-lessness booklet:
Planning the Successful Dinner Party
|Not like those stinkos that you're so famous for throwing!|
The promise of the booklet is that having a dinner party requires no magic. And yet it includes THIS illustration:
|Clever hors d'oeuvres servers or Dinner party Voo Doo done adorably well?|
The booklet and I cannot stress enough that the entire weight of the success of the party rests squarely on the slumped, well-rounded shoulders of the hostess (according to the booklet, the ‘host’ part of the equation is pretty much useless and must actually be directed by the hostess).
|"OH, Larry, you're paneling yourself into the wall Again! Where would you be without me?" |
"In here safe from the Zombie Apocalypse - aka dinner with your parents - that's where!"
The mistakes you made, Loved One, could have been avoided had you read just the first page of this booklet.
It’s all Helen bothered to read. Yet she’ feels confident telling you where you went wrong. Where you went horribly, horribly wrong.
|I'm telling you, I actually considered telling the first zombie I saw that this hairdo was actually a big ol Jiffy-Pop jackpot of brains and to dive in - anything to get out of her last party!|
Apparently you are supposed to carefully consider things like
1) Do not try to kill too many birds with one dinner party.
|Sheesh, you blow up ONE Tur-duck-en and they never let you live it down.|
2) Have you added a few good talkers to your list?
|It's pronounced Bee-yatch, bi-atches. You'd know that if you were a good talker like myself.|
3) Do the women heavily outnumber the men?
|Hiya, Gordie. Yeah, usually we try to have a strict "more gals than guys for our manage--a-zombies' but when we instituted the "no fat chicks' policy, it got harder to enforce.|
Then there are pages about proper ways to write an invitation (zombies, don’t need invitations, they just show up), how to greet your guests (if they are zombies, Helen suggests with a shotgun in your hands) and table settings, blah blah blah.
Flipping through pages, flipping through pages, Okay, menu. If you are entertaining zombies this should be a no brainer. Literally, no brains, people. Helen suggests you serve this (not from the booklet)
|Yes, you are reading right. Raw hamburger with anchovies garnished with slices of buttered rye bread, If that doesn't kil the appetite of even the most zombified among you, nothing will.|
Conversation – the Life Line of a Dinner Party. This section begins with something about acting interested in what people have to say. Yawn.
OOoo here’s something up Helen’s alley – conversational taboos!
Discussions of illness and operations, the author reports, are “most unfortunate. They must be stopped somehow.”
|I don't know if it fell off at the hairdresser of I lost it in a feeding frenzy but long story short, that's why I get twice the wear out of a pair of earrings now.|
Sigh. So in other words, the living may have to spend the whole evening not just dodging the gnawing teeth of the undead but also side-stepping their tongue wagging on and on about moldering flesh, skin conditions and what body parts have rotted or been ripped away. BORING.
Then comes the time to say good night. True to the advice that's it's rude to slam the door as soon as your guest leaves, the booklet goes on for 25 more pages.
|Pile another pork cop on, Martha, we're going to be here a while.|
No, no, save yourselves. Go on and have that party without me. I'll stay here and keep reading.
|All right, I won't be reading. I'll be napping and having my fav recurring dream - the one where they've invented zero calorie booze. Mmmmm another Irish Coffee, I believe I will!|
In short, you want Helen’s best advice for insuring a successful Zombie dinner party? It's just like any other endeavor - make it your own, be yourself, chose wisely the company you keep and all will be fine. In other words:
Adhering to a bunch of somebody else's rules for what makes the ‘perfect’ party bites –