The 11th Hour offer…
There’s politeness, etiquette and then there’s the dinner guest routine that we all have to endure: You know it when you have them over for a big family dinner and you’ve gotten everything done and ready to serve: You’ve chopped, stirred, basted, glazed and grated, snipped and shredded, spiced, seasoned, hinted at, swore at and cursed, cooked, turned over… stuffed… and not always in that order… but you’re just about to put everything on a plate and you hear this from the other room: “Can I do anything?”
It’s the 11th hour offer…
Can you do anything? What, now, when I’m serving up, not at the beginning before the cursing? It’s not as if they didn’t know what I was doing for the last hour. They are smart, cunning; they know that when they hear the clatter of plates and the clanger of cutlery that it is safe to assume food is on the way. There’s nothing else to be done.
You know what you do right? Listen to this: You make sure before you start that you have a huge sack of potatoes waiting by the back door. A stool, a manual peel — one that gives you blisters — and a bucket of water. When that person asks “Can I do anything.” You tell them “Yes you can. Come in to the kitchen. Your help is greatly appreciated.”
You should see their faces when they leave their arm chair and walk on into the kitchen, especially when you give them the potato peeler; you put the apron over their head. Likely they would not have moved a muscle. They won’t believe it. It’s as if you just asked them to taxidermy a very large case of road kill.
“Thank you so much for offering…” I would say as I set them down on the stool.