You're All Set

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,
and as being heirs together of the grace of life;
that your prayers be not hindered.

    — 1 Peter 3:7


One night, there was a big party at our house. We were the hors d’oeuvres stop for our neighborhood’s annual progressive dinner. Sixty-five snappily dressed guests met for nibbles and saw our house looking its best. Mighty fine premises, they said. Mighty fine indeed.


What they DIDN’T see was my Frenzied Hag of the Western World act the week before, using my body as a human hammer to get this dump into shape. If it weren’t for parties, I’d NEVER clean up around here.


Gardening, spray-painting, wire-brushing, dusting high, dusting low, vacuuming . . . I worked like a dog, especially picking up the 17 zillion maple hulls out of the irregular flagstones on our back patio.


But seconds before the first guests arrived, I caught sight of Maddy, our 3-year-old, out there grabbing fistfuls of wet sand and throwing them up in the air – “HAPPPP-py New Year!”


All over my precious patio that I had JUST swept!


One fistful of sand plonked onto the living room window and slid down, leaving a trail of grime that would be our guests’ first glimpse of our lovely, peaceful home.


That’s when the tick on the right eyelid began.


Two minutes later, the lightbulb over the buffet burned out, creating the ominous specter of guests having to peer haplessly at the food.


The tick on the left eyelid began.


The twitch on the mouth came after 90 minutes of so-so slush from the rented margarita machine. It was too liquid. It was too warm in the afternoon sun, to freeze up into a good snow-like texture. People were good sports and drank the slush anyway, but I was upset.


Then – naturally — the sun went down and the slush iced up . . . at the precise moment the guests had to “progress” to the next house. So they left. I was stuck with a boatload of leftover margaritas. I mean, a 55-gallon drum of leftover margaritas.


Shaken, not stirred? Neither. I twitched. It was a great party and I should have been proud and happy, but as usual, I obsessed over the few things that went wrong. Madame Perfecto strikes again.


And where was my husband during all of these party-prep trials? My rock, my fortress, my handyman, my margarita machine mechanic?


Out of town, of course.


At least, he wasn’t just off golfing. That’s his usual M.O. when a big party is coming up. You’ve seen the cartoon: husband sets up ladder, paint can, paint brush and drop cloths, and as he leaves the house with his golf bag over his shoulder, he calls to his wife: “You’re all set!!!”

No, this time he had been called away on a mission of critical importance. Not to a far-flung battlefield. Not for work. It was to a softball tournament, to support our daughter’s team, of which he is a manager.


Oh, make no mistake: before he left, he took a half-day off work and whizzed down his Honey-Do List. He whipped the yard into shape. He took the storms off the screen porch.


As he was leaving, he even flipped on the air conditioner for the first time this year. As he walked out the door, he said jauntily over his shoulder:


“You’re all set!”


Don’t say that! That could be a big jinx! I hate when you say that!!!


I felt a chill of margarita-like proportions. But it was nothing compared to what my feet felt at 7 this morning. The party was over, and I fell into bed, exhausted, for a good night’s sleep.


However . . . the softball daughter had forgotten to turn off her alarm clock before she left town. So it buzzed loudly at O Dark Thirty. I leaped out of bed, my tired bod still leaden from all those party preparations, and staggered downstairs to turn it off.


Two steps into her room – squish, squish – and I knew the nearby air conditioning unit was backed up and leaking badly onto her carpeted floor.

Icy water was soaking the off-white carpet, sending shock waves through my bare feet. The Arctic wetness drove my cardiogram into the mega-millions. Worst of all, the water was beginning to stain the beautiful beech baseboards.


Oh, no! And the hubs was out of town for the weekend! I’m on my own! I’ve got to act fast!


Then I thought of the wet vac out in the garage. I could haul it down there. I could use it all day and well into the night to suck up this flood and save the day. I could do it! I could beat this thing!


I was . . . all set!


Hmmph! I didn’t WANT to be all set. I wanted HIM to be all set!!!


But THEN I remembered the boatloads of leftover margarita slush I had stashed in plastic sacks in the freezer.


Hmmmmmm! Gotta use it up sometime!


Yes, indeedy. I was all set after all! †

By Susan Darst Williams | | House & Garden | © 2020