Over the Christmas holidays I made an attempt to do some baking. When my mother was alive we’d spend a week in the kitchen cooking before Christmas, but I was just her assistant and unfortunately I never really learned how to function on my own in a kitchen. I burnt the first batch of cookies I made this year and the second batch I made tasted awful. I thought that watching every episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations over the last couple of years would improve my cooking abilities. Obviously I was wrong. All Bourdain’s terrific show has done is make me want to travel more and eat at fabulous restaurants. Besides my dislike of cooking, I also hate cleaning. The sad truth is that l’ll never be the domestic goddess that my mother, grandmothers and great grandmothers were. This isn’t something I’m particularly proud of. It’s just fact.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I’m also a terrible party host as well as a terrible party guest. I find myself usually struck dumb at parties, which means I drink too much in an attempt to entertain myself. Board games have become popular at parties again but they bore me to tears whenever I’m forced into playing them and no matter how wild the party guests may think they are, conversations often revolve around jobs, babies, home ownership and cooking when you’re my age, which isn’t particularly bad but it can get a little tedious after a few hours.
So why am I telling you all this? Because it explains why I enjoy Phyllis Diller’s 1966 book Housekeeping Hints so much! This funny book was a gift last year from fellow Flickr user Mjlaff and I can’t thank her enough. Since I received a brand new sparkling Epson scanner for my birthday, I thought I’d share some of Phyllis Diller’s timely wisdom with you all. If you’re planning a big party tonight to celebrate the New Year, you won’t want to miss reading some of Diller’s selected housekeeping tips and party planning tricks. Like me, Phyllis Diller shuns the Cult of Domesticity and she also has a wicked sense of humor. So without further ado, here’s some helpful party tips from one of the leading pioneers of stand-up comedy accompanied by some wonderful illustrations by artist Susan Perl.
Shopping Made Easy:
– “Spot a domestic looking woman in the supermarket and copy what she’s got in her grocery cart.”
– “Don’t buy products that advertise that even a child can use them. These failures have a greater sting.”
– “Pick up a cook book at a rummage sale so you have one that looks used.”
– “Above all, don’t feel you’re lying when you use the term ‘home-baked’ if the bakery is in town.”
Dial M for Messy:
– “Always have a lot of souvenirs around from far off places, even if you’ve just sent for them from a mail order house. It will give the impression of being a world traveler who hasn’t been home long enough to have thoroughly cleaned the house.”
– “Blame a lot of things – like soiled wallpaper, greasy walls, and a dirty basement – on the previous owners (or renters), even if you’ve lived there for 25 years.”
– “Do not have company when the sunlight is streaming through the windows. Everything shows up. Entertain at night or close the drapes and break the cord.”
– “No matter what anyone drops behind the couch, don’t let them retrieve it, whether it’s a wrist watch or a diamond ring. Offer to replace it. What’s money when compared to your ruined reputation?”
The Hostess with the Leastest:
– “No matter what time your guests arrive, pretend they’re early, so naturally you’re not ready for them.”
– “Discuss religion and politics at your dinner party so people get into heated arguments and don’t notice what they’re eating. They may also think that the arguing caused their indigestion.”
– “Never serve meals on time. The starving eat anything.”
– “You can easily find yourself in a group of women exchanging recipes and discussing knitting patterns. The only safe way to avoid this is to drift over to a group of men. If they’re exchanging recipes and discussing knitting patterns, leave the party.”
Happy New Year!