Wednesday, December 10, 2014
'Tis the season
After living in Chile for almost four years, I sometimes forget that, in the US, it's not okay to arrive at a dinner or a party really, really late. I was only running slightly late, about twenty minutes, but when I arrived, the party was in full swing. There were other stragglers who arrived after I had, but the majority of the guests had arrived on time.
Everyone brought a dish to share and the hosts had prepared food, too. The tables were groaning, heavy with ham, turkey, enchiladas, posole, vegetables, desserts. You name it, we had it.
Many of us did not already know each other. We got acquainted while nibbling appetizers. Then, around quarter to seven, one of the hosts announced that it was time to eat dinner. People began filling plates and finding places to sit where they could balance them on their knees.
About half an hour later, I began to notice something, an exodus. People who had finished eating started to leave the party. By 7:30, half the guests were out the door and, by eight o'clock when I left, there were only a few diehards still there. I was home by 8:30.
I had fun at the party, but when I told this story to my Spanish teacher Vivi, she was incredulous. ¿A las seis? Her eyes went wide when I told her the party had started at 6:00pm. They began to roll around when I told her that I was home by 8:30. I could read her thoughts. ¡Que fome!
First of all, in Chile, a party like this would never have started until at least 8:00, more likely 9:00 or 10:00. And even then, most people wouldn't have shown up for another hour or so. They would not be ready to leave after only an hour and a half either. In fact, after an hour and a half, they might not have eaten yet and, even if they had, they would still linger long into the night.
After a Chilean party, the host might find their bed at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00am. Time well spent with people whom they had probably seen the week before.
Don't ask which is my preference. With friends, all parties are fun, but if I had my druthers, I'd probably split the difference and have three- or four-hour parties. I wonder which country in the world does that.