“I don’t like eating out at families for Shabbos,” my Flatmate said. “I hate being the nebach case at the table.”
“You think that’s why people invite us?” I asked. “Really?”
“Well why else do you think they do?”
“For the pleasure of our company?” I replied, suddenly doubtful. Maybe my company isn’t all that scintillating. Maybe the only reason people invite me over is because otherwise they imagine me alone in a dark room with cracked walls, lit by a single, dangling, lightbulb, sitting at a wobbly table eating dry bread salted by my own tears.
Then I laughed. That was ridiculous. Who could imagine I had such a pathetic existence? No, they definitely invited me over for a much-needed break from discussing community politics and preschool options. They probably appreciate having someone new around to provide a more youthful perspective and broad-ranging conversation…
Friday night, as we proffered our parting thank yous to our hosts, the hostess leaned in and urged us to invite ourselves over any time. “You know Elisheva, who lives a few doors down from you? She has a hard time finding meals for Shabbos. She told me that sometimes she eats all alone. I feel so bad! But sometimes the week just gets away and I forget to invite people. So don’t feel uncomfortable about calling, okay?”
Pop. That was the sound of my bubble.
Okay. So maybe they don’t invite me for varied conversation. Maybe, I go to them for varied conversation. The truth is, if you want to imagine me in a nebach situation, it would be a teeny drop different than the dry-bread-in-a-dark-room situation.
You’d have to imagine me in a brightly lit, spacious apartment, at a table brimming with food and surrounded by friends, all carrying on an LCD conversation about… dating. It sounds so familiar, I suspect we had the exact same conversation last week.
“Hey, anyone try any new recipes lately? Read any good books?” I try.
“Um, how’s work?”
“Ugh, not on Shabbos.”
“Goethe? Post-modern art? How about that government shutdown? The weather?”
“C’mon. This is what I come here for,” a guest says. “To get in my weekly crabbing about dating.”
Diaper brand comparisons? After-school daycare? Bring it on.