When the doorbell rang and it was one of Daddy’s business friends, we enjoyed it as much as the adults. We immediately left homework or other activities aside, greeted all of these “father types” with a hug and a kiss, and then sat down to enjoy a bit of attention ourselves during the visit.
Our home was nothing fancy or intimidating, just comfortably lived in. Because Daddy’s business approach was genuine and all inclusive, he considered our home an extension of his business. Daddy wanted guests to feel comfortable dropping by, any day, any time, and through any door. Thus, he expected his household to be prepared.
Whoever stopped by, Daddy automatically walked into the kitchen to prepare a highball or pour a glass of red, then instructed Mom to slice the salami and some cheese and set a plate within easy reach.
Daddy especially enjoyed the men’s camaraderie; Daddy had been very bashful as a young man, so he wanted to make sure every visitor made himself at home. Daddy would fling a piece of sourdough toward our guest; while the bread was in flight, he’d yell:
Don’t be bashful!
A slice of salami or cheese followed right after. Our visitors soon learned to either help themselves quickly or plan to catch the home staples in mid-air!
One of Daddy’s pet peeves was not having enough for dinner to extend the offer to any unexpected visitor. If Daddy walked into the kitchen and Mom hadn’t cooked an “extra” chop or serving of that night’s meal, he could get really upset. This was harder on Mom than it was on anyone else; Mom didn’t shift as quickly or as easily as Daddy wanted her to, though she did make every effort to support Daddy’s expectations in the long run.
Truthfully, our guests didn’t really care about any refreshments. They knew they were always welcome. Our home was cheap entertainment for most of them, a respite from their own family troubles and a comfortable stop at the end of a tough day…certainly; one could forget his troubles after a half-hour around our household!
Mom enjoyed the attention too, but for most of the visit, remained in busy homemaker mode in her kitchen. Consequently, she was unaware of the potted plant inventory that Daddy and a business friend decided to take during one of these visits. Because our living room was well filled with plants, antique vases and several family photos, our business associate told Daddy that our house looked like a funeral home – then proceeded to prove his point by counting all the potted plants around the perimeter, setting the stage for any and all follow-up banter at Mom’s expense.
When they had each stopped after reaching twenty-something in the living room alone, the men gave Mom their results. Mom made it perfectly clear that she was not going to let anyone get the best of her regarding her beloved plants or children’s or grandchildren’s photos! And, she added, if she wanted to find a way to add more, she would!
Daddy never stopped laughing over the funeral home comment. Obviously, such visits were a bit of respite for Daddy as well as his friends whom, in hindsight, I’m totally convinced were more able to laugh and relax around us than they could in most other places.
Heaven knows, at least when company was there, Mom wasn’t finding fault with the way Daddy’s shirt was buttoned, or how his pant cuffs were dragging…