It was a game changer, a paradigm shifter. Things will never go back to the way they were, and it’s all because of what she did.
I’m talking, of course, about Dianne Feinstein and her amazing breakthrough in home entertaining.
Move over, Martha Stewart -- there’s a new Hostess with the Mostest in town!
Or should I say Hostess with the Leastest? Because that’s what the Feinstein breakthrough was: Doing more with less. A lot less.
If you’re like most people, the idea of having guests over to your house fills you with trepidation. You think that every one of a hundred details has to be perfect, and you worry that you can’t possibly measure up. Not to your more socially adept friends, who are willing to entertain at the drop of a Champagne cork. And certainly not to those national icons of divine domesticity -- Thanks, Martha! Thanks, Rachael! -- who make it all seem so effortless.
Dianne Feinstein has changed all that.
You’ve heard by now how the senator from California offered up her Washington home last week for a secret fence-mending meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. How tensions had been high and getting higher between the two candidates and their respective camps, and how Feinstein had realized they needed a chance to start patching things up, away from the glare of TV lights and the buzz of helicopters.
You’ve heard all that, but what’s gotten much less attention -- and much less appreciation, if you ask me -- is exactly what Dianne Feinstein did to prepare for this crucial, so-much-is-riding on-it, future-of-the-party party.
I’ll let her tell you herself:
“I received them, put them in the living room in two comfortable chairs facing one another and left.”
Oh, and she put out some water.
Then she left them there, just the two of them in the room -- no staff, no interpreters -- and went upstairs to do some work. When they were done, an hour or so later, they called upstairs, and she came out long enough to wish them well and send them on their way.
Haven’t you always wished that you could entertain like that?
A couple of chairs, and a couple of glasses of water. Tap water? Bottled water? Imported? Domestic? Carbonated? Non-carbonated? High sodium? Low sodium? She didn’t say, and -- here’s the point -- she didn’t seem particularly worried about it.
If it had been Martha Stewart, the water would have had to burble up that same afternoon from the artesian well she’d dug in her backyard with tools she’d hand-forged in her very own carriage-house steel mill.
But the Dianne Feinstein way? It was water, plain and simple. Coasters? Napkins? Fancy hors d’oeuvres? (Trail mix?) No sign of any of it.
What an achievement!
And admit it -- how many times have you thought about inviting some people over, only to find your yourself worrying, “What’ll we talk about?” “How will I keep the conversation going?” How many times have you actually had people over and found yourself wishing you could just go upstairs?
With the Dianne Feinstein way, your worries are over! At long last, entertaining is easy again!
You do have two comfortable chairs, don’t you?
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.