Laverne's View

Laverne’s View: The Art of Casual (??) Entertaining

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My girlfriend, Bobbie, e-mailed me and said she was on her way out to pick up a coffee cake. She had company coming for breakfast in a little while.  I wrote back and asked her to teach me how to be that relaxed. I would have bought that coffee cake the day before and had it on a doily, on a cake dish, already sliced and covered with plastic wrap.

The rest of the meal would have been pre-cooked and frozen a week earlier, and two days before company was scheduled to arrive I would have had those foods defrosted, broiled, baked, poached, nuked, toasted, un-molded, and garnished with parsley, cherries, whipped cream, nuts, powdered sugar, and drizzled chocolate and covered with foil, labeled for easy identification and refrigerated.  The correct serving utensil would be resting on each plate ready to scoop, cut, or stab, as required.

The table would have been set for a week, ensuring that china dishes and crystal goblets would be covered with a fine layer of dust by the time guests arrive.

The night before I would have filled the coffee pot with water and measured 12 scoops of coffee……even though only four guests were expected.  Cream would be in a small pitcher, sugar would be in a matching sugar bowl, Splenda packets arranged in a circle, and lemon wedges would be artistically arranged on small plates, and if I were serving buffet style, silverware would be laid out in an intricate abstract design, with napkins folded in some kind of Origami shape that took me three days to create.  And by the time my company arrived I’d be totally run down, wiped out, exhausted, and counting the moments until they leave.

What I love is the idea of entertaining.  In my fantasies I’m surrounded by friends and loved ones, and taking bows for the magnificent array of succulent foods I’ve  prepared with Martha Stewart ease and perfection.  I am so relaxed I don’t even hear the oven bell signaling that my souffle’ is ready, and my cream brulee’ is cool enough to serve. 

But, real life has me running in frenzied circles, apprehensive and out of breath.  Despite the fact that I’ve referred to a detailed written list of foods I’d be serving, which includes the time each one is to enter and exit the oven, something is always raw in the middle or burned on the top, and I have never had a dinner when, after guests have left, I didn’t find something I’d forgotten to serve still sitting in the fridge. 

I remember a time when I baked a chocolate cake using a cake mix.  My impatience had me frosting the cake before it had cooled, which resulted in chunks of warm cake crumbling off from the top of the cake and mixing in with the chocolate icing.  It look liked it had exploded, but after a necessary moment of crying, I decided to serve it anyway.  But first I walked around the table showing each guest the picture on the cake box, so they would have some idea what the hell I was serving.

Then there was the time I had 23 people over for a holiday meal that was to include my famous chicken soup and light, fluffy, matzah balls.  Something went wrong – I’ve never known what – and the matzah balls never puffed up and floated to the top.   Instead they remained marble sized and clung like small, heavy anchors to the bottom of the pot, which prompted my heartless grandchildren to giggle and refer to them as golf balls.

I wish I could be like my daughter, who always manages to whip up something from nothing, for however many unexpected people happen to ring her bell. But, I’m not, so if you plan on paying me a surprise visit make sure you don’t arrive empty handed.

One wonderful thing about being my age is that where I use to take great pride in saying, “Thank you. Yes, I made everything myself,”  I now am capable of mustering up that same feeling of pride when I say, “Yes, it is good, isn’t it?  I made none of it.  The soup and lasagna came from Villa Capri, and all dessert are from La Parisian. I did, however, boil the water for tea.

Editor’s Note: Laverne H. Bardy is a syndicated humor columnist. Visit her at She’s the author of “How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?” Her articles appear regularly on She blogs for the and is also a columnist for,, and Copyright, Laverne H. Bardy, published with permission.







Laverne H. Bardy’s humor column, Laverne’s View, has been syndicated with Senior News Wire Services since 2004, and is read in newspapers throughout the United States, Canada and India. She wrote for 50 Plus Monthly, a regional New Jersey newspaper, where loyal readers laughed at her humor from 1999 to 2009. Currently she blogs for Huffington Post’s “Fifty” section, and writes for us here at, as well as and

Laverne began her writing career in the mid 1970’s, when she was asked to write and edit Hotline, the Parent/Teacher newsletter at the school her children attended, in Livingston, New Jersey. During that same period she wrote one play, collaborated in writing another, and worked with the Livingston school system’s psychologist to write a series of Behavioral Modification skits that were presented to parents and teachers of the student body.

Laverne wrote human interest stories for West Essex Tribune and The Newark Star Ledger for a stretch then went on to join the staff of Northern Horizon’s newspaper.

Some publications Laverne’s work has appeared in are Reader’s Digest, Mature Living, Montage Magazine, Northern Horizons,Woman’s Hockey, Big Apple Parents’ Paper, The Daily Record newspaper and New Jersey Jewish News. Anthologies include Chocolate for a Woman’s Courage, Rocking Chair Reader, Bedpan Banter, Story House, and Craft of the Modern Writer. She is currently working on a book, How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?, a compilation of her columns, life stories and ramblings. Laverne was interviewed by Bottom Line Retirement, twice.

When she is not writing Laverne gives talks and humorous readings in coffee shops, libraries, and for various organizations and workshops. Some of her topics include: Growing up in the Fifties, How to Get More Humor in your Life, and The Joys of Aging. Talks about the joys of aging don’t usually last more than thirty seconds.

Laverne was nominated for publication in the 2006 edition of Marquis Who’s Who of American Women.

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