My friends of many flavours

2008-08-14 00:00

Friends come in many flavours and my husband and I are blessed with a large and diverse assortment, ranging from the incredibly sweet to the downright acerbic with a few who are best described as sweet ‘n sour.

But it wasn’t until I was compiling a list of invites to the inaugural lighting of our long awaited pizza oven, that I suddenly realised how many of them have fled the homeland for pastures new.

A few years ago the pizza oven would have undergone several unveiling ceremonies, because although we enjoy this varied taste in friends, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they complement one another and entertaining everyone together would have been a recipe for disaster. It’s a bit like chocolate cake and caviar — fabulous on their own, but decidedly less so if mixed together.

Following several tortuous gatherings where we attempted to throw everyone into the mix, we decided to divide our friends into three categories — the posh professionals, the happy homemakers and the wild and wackys. This way there was no clash of flavours and we could still enjoy everyone’s company.

With a fine vintage wine in circulation, the posh professionals can swing an evening with the wild and wackys, but not the happy homemakers. No matter how you contort it, business economics and home economics do not amount to the same thing.

Likewise, seating the happy homemakers and the wild and wackys around the same table is simply asking for indigestion.

The happy homemakers are our Sunday afternoon tea companions.

Most of them have the nappy-brigade in tow and alternate between looking sleep-deprived and mildly shell-shocked.

Already dazed and bewildered, these folk prefer not to relinquish their few remaining faculties to the affects of alcohol, so late nights and raucous dinner parties are best avoided.

It’s all very decorous. We sip tea and engage in snatches of conversation while they hurtle around in pursuit of their offspring who take turns terrorising our pets or trampling the flowerbeds.

Domestic and family issues occupy centre stage, so nappy changing and nose wiping, the spiralling cost of sausages or how to remove Bovril stains from the couch, are typical areas of discussion.

A cordial afternoon of domesticity is a welcome respite following a Saturday evening spent with our wild and wacky friends, which is invariably quite the opposite. These non-conformist, anything-for-a-good time-mates are tremendous fun, if not a tad exhausting.

They’ll try anything once, don’t need to phone the babysitter every half an hour and aren’t interested in splitting the atom.

The posh professionals are the Friday evening dinner party set whose knack for scintillating repartee is second only to their cocktail-making skills.

Proceedings kick off with a dry martini and matching discussion about the state of the country, the economy or anything else that’s gone awry.

Having set the world to rights, everyone then feels at liberty to relax and move from dry aperitifs to something more effusive. The shift in mood inevitably leads to someone impressing the company with exotic holiday plans and amusing it with saucy jokes.

Despite an austere and sometimes snooty exterior, once their cogs are oiled, this group have been known to border on the wild and wacky — minus the belly rings and tattoos, of course.

Unfortunately, our smorgasbord of eclectic friends has dwindled over the past few years, leaving us with an alarmingly short party list and little choice but to toss everyone together in a sort of potluck goulash. Hopefully though, what with variety being the spice of life, no one will end up with a bad taste in their mouth.

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