Oh, Gourmet’s done it again. Like clockwork, they tantalize me with an unattainable outdoor fantasy on a monthly basis. Sure, this looks casual on the surface, but lakeside parties with a Spanish-inflected menu don’t just plan themselves. “Rollin’ on the River,” they call it.
A snippet from Ruth Reichl’s letter from the editor is very telling, “…we remembered how it feels to have the sun smiling down while you’re dangling your legs in cool water, sipping green-grape sangria, and munching on spicy slices of perfectly medium-rare tenderloin.”
That sounds lovely, but I have no such memory. And it’s not even for lack of trying. Three summers ago I attempted to wrangle friends and acquaintances into renting a lake house just around this exact time of year. I couldn’t get any takers. I haven’t bothered since. The only way things get done is if I just plan and do them myself for my own enjoyment.
And it wouldn’t work anyway. I know too many vegetarians and chorizo even in the wax bean and pea salad wouldn’t win me any favors. And then there would be someone who would insist on bringing hot dogs or chili. On the up side, there probably wouldn’t be any shirtless dudes in fisherman hats or dragon tattoos in sight. (I do find it strange that Gourmet focuses so heavily on 20-somethings in photo spreads when their readers’ median age is 50).
It wouldn’t work because I am an anti-catalyst. Not only do I not make things happen, I make them fall apart.
The inability to drum up interest in a cheap summer share (Poconos or Adirondacks not the Hamptons) is one of many things I feel remiss about. Years ago I detailed a comprehensive list of things I hadn’t done by 25. Stupid things like never having been to summer camp (do kids really go away for an entire summer? I did day camp and one-week camp with Girl Scouts in grade school but it was nothing like Meatballs) and never having been on a real date (being picked up, taken to dinner that doesn’t involve nachos, having the guy pay and not putting out beyond kissing) which was finally rectified in my late 20s. Oh, I’d also like to sip lemonade on a porch swing while I’m dredging up fully obtainable experiences that never present themselves to me.
Now I’m on a tangent for sure, but weddings are a realm where I feel very much like an outsider. Every summer, everyone around me bemoans the slew of weddings they must attend or participate in. And every summer I’m taken aback by this.
I’ve been to a whopping three weddings in the past 15 years: two were my sister’s, and the other was for James’s sister. The only wedding I was actually in took place in 1981 when I was my aunt’s flower girl. Even both of my parents who re-married in the early ‘90s went wedding-less.
Is it that I know the wrong people? I swear I know people, just not many married people.
So no, I do not foresee any weddings or meals served on overturned rowboats for summer 2008. Which isn’t to say that 2009 couldn’t totally surprise me.
Finally, I apologize to Googlers looking for alfresco porn and end up here with only a dock-side picnic to ogle.
Update: Gourmet.com has just posted a behind the scenes look at some of the food styling for this photo shoot.