Last week my son had some mates over to celebrate Australia Day so I invited their families to join us. It was a great day; I made meat pies, sausage rolls and pavlova and we broke out our stash of Tim Tams to share. A fun time was had by all.
I always like meeting new people and I particularly like meeting the parents and families of my kids’ friends. To me, a family says a lot about the kids and we like socialising as a family unit: it keeps us together and connected.
What made this BBQ different was the talk. Being the hostess with the mostest (self-proclaimed!) I was fluttering in and out of various conversations, which sound a little like this:
“Leonardo DiCaprio really is a genuinely good guy… I worked with him on …”
“…Despite what people say about him Tom Cruise is an absolute professional and he knows what he’s doing … when I worked with him on …”
“… those hookers can tell some stories … seriously doing it in the bathroom at his own party!”
“When she quit Scientology the fallout and threats were shocking.” “She was brave to do it. Good for her …”
“She always wanted to be an actress so it’s the next best thing…”
None of this was name-dropping or ill-timed, gossiping or even one-upping each other. It was just BBQ talk with people “talking work” or at least talking about what and who you know. Mr Hollywood and I could even weigh into the conversation–go figure! There wasn’t one person that couldn’t.
Fresh “off the boat” I still find this bizarre. I actually stepped out while I got the meat pies out of the oven and just listened, taking it all in. When we were about to move to LA I joked we’d be exposed to all of this. It was supposed to be a joke. We just couldn’t imagine that would be us; it couldn’t possibly be; how could it be? Not us, where we’d come from or who we are and all of a sudden–five seconds later–here we are.
What made it the same as anywhere in the world though was the fact that they were all normal, real-life people.
The other interesting thing is the concept that the world really is a small place. Out of the five families here, three people went to the same boarding school. In England. All three people went to the boarding school from different parts of the globe (ie not all from here). Get out of town! Seriously?
As a wise friend said to me when we moved to Shanghai. Never talk about anyone here. It is a small world and no matter how hard you think you can’t be connected back to them you will be. It’s good advice anyway don’t you think? If you can’t say anything nice don’t say it at all.
Another friend’s husband used to cut us off if he thought we were “talking about someone”, even if we did our best to spin it that we were merely recounting a factual story. He would just gently say, “uh …” and put his pointing figure up to his mouth to signal “shhh”. We’d get really annoyed and try to finish the conversation before we were shh’d again (and it wasn’t a condescending shh by the way, just well-intended). It worked, we stopped and moved on (most of the time!).
Over the years though it’s caught on so now I try to live by that motto. Life’s too short to get bogged down by negativity anyway.