On being ... too much fuss?

By Ingrid Sapona

A girlfriend’s father has been in and out of the hospital lately and she’s been helping her folks out quite a bit so, thinking she deserves a bit of TLC, I invited her over for lunch. Though she jumped at the invitation, she stressed that she didn’t want me to go to any trouble. I told her that I thought she deserved a break and that having her over would be my pleasure. Before we agreed on the date she again reiterated that she hoped I wouldn’t fuss. To be honest, I was a bit irritated at her insistence because I welcomed the opportunity to fuss a bit. But, I contained my annoyance and told her not to worry.

As soon as we hung up I began planning the meal. I love cooking and, for me, having people over presents an opportunity to try something new or an old favourite that I don’t make too often. Part of it is that when you live alone there are some things you just don’t make for yourself because there’s a limit to how many days you can stomach something (even favourite foods lose their appeal by the fourth evening) and there’s only so much space in the freezer for leftovers.

Besides enjoying cooking, I love entertaining. It’s a chance to pull out the proverbial “good china” and there’s always decorating the table and the challenge of creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming and relaxing. (Truth be told, it’s also a great excuse to splurge on a little something in bloom for the table!)

A couple days after making plans with my girlfriend, my godparents phoned to invite me over for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in awhile and I was delighted at the thought. I always enjoy our visits and I know that they both enjoy entertaining and fussing over things. Joe, my godfather, loves to cook and I figured, like me, he welcomed having an excuse to put his formidable talents to use. We quickly settled on a date.

It turns out, I was right. My godparents knocked themselves out with an Asian-inspired three-course feast. Not only was the meal delicious, it was fun to share Joe’s enthusiasm. At one point, after asking him about the sauce adorning the fish, he popped out to the kitchen and returned with the recipe. He then described how he varied it a bit because he wasn’t sure I would like one particular ingredient. Later on my godmother let it slip that for days Joe had been contemplating the “menu he’d serve Ingrid”. I was honoured and happy that they know I truly appreciate the attention to detail and the effort they put into the meal.

Now, back to the get-together with my girlfriend. As it happens, the night before the lunch she phoned to ask if I’d mind postponing for a week because she wasn’t feeling 100%. She asked if it would be a big inconvenience and I reassured her it wouldn’t be. The truth was that by that point most of the meal was ready (I do as much as I can in advance so that when I have a guest I don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen), but that was ok. You see, I really didn’t mind because I had enjoyed all the preparations – the fact that I might have to re-make some of it later didn’t really matter.

So here’s my take on fussing over things. I think everybody fusses in their own way over things that matter to them. Some people fuss over cleaning their car, others fuss over dressing up. I happen to fuss over food and entertaining. The way I see it, fussing can be a form of self-expression and even a creative outlet. So long as your fussing is self-motivated (in other words, you’re not fussing because it’s expected of you) and so long as your fussing doesn’t rise to the level of an obsession or compulsion, I say go for it.

So, next time someone you know starts to fuss over something, I say sit back and let them. Afterward, be sure to revel in the outcome with them -- you’ll both be happier for it!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to looking for a new stuffing recipe -- the holidays are around the corner and I’ve got some things I’d like to fuss over …

© 2009 Ingrid Sapona


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