The tale of crab dip and a pashmina



I hope some day soon I’ll look back on last night and laugh. For now I’m still mortified and perhaps telling you the story will allow the healing process to begin.

It’s quite ironic that this post immediately follows the one in which I told you how I don’t care what people think…

Last night Nick and I attended a dinner party. It was the annual couples dinner for the international ladies group in town.

I’ve attended lunches, cultural tours, and just earlier this week a coffee morning at someone’s home with this group.  At the coffee morning I brought along a store bought cake (which I felt a little embarrassed about, but there were other non-homemade items as part of the spread) When I arrived, I was greeted by the host and taken to the kitchen to grab a plate for my contribution, offered tea or coffee, and then left to mingle with the ladies. I figured this dinner party would be similar.

Now, I’m an introvert. Small talk is not my thing. But I’ve managed to enjoy these little gatherings and for now it’s learning about the ladies and hearing some of their stories, and I can do that.

But then last night.

I’d asked in advance if arriving late would be rude.  Party started at 8:30 and we had plans that would go until at least 9:00. Then it was a 25 minute walk. I was reassured it was “come and go as you please” and of course Italian parties go extremely late into the night. We walked in the rain (Nick sans umbrella) and arrived a little after 9:30 to the address.

We had no idea what buzzer to ring. I only had the lady’s first name. I only had phone numbers for two other ladies. Neither of which answered their phones – I mean what woman keeps their phone on them at a party? And who would be able to hear it if they did? By a chance of good luck, two teenage girls come running through the pouring rain with a large dog. They are speaking English. And they talk about “the party”

“Are you the daughters of Elena?”

“No, but we know her.”

Great! They took us in and showed us the way to the apartment. We’d made it.

Part of me wishes we’d turned around and gone home and never encountered those girls.


We stand in the (second) long entry hallway and see the crowd of at least 80 inside. Immediately I knew we were ridiculously under dressed.

I was in a cream colored sweater, leggings, and my usual flat swede boots. I’d walked, it was cold and rainy. I was trying to be practical.

Every woman was in a dress.

Ok, not every woman, but there certainly weren’t any sweaters. This was a fancy party. I’d missed the memo. Or rather, I don’t think there was a memo, it’s just not how we roll for parties. We go to friend parties. Causal affairs if you will.

“At least I have a pashmina. That’s fancy right?” I say to Nick after I point out to him our lack of fancy-ness. It was a desperate cry to feel better about my faux pas. I wasn’t fooling anyone with my pashmina.

You see, when I was choosing my clothes I lamented “I don’t have any tights . I should wear a dress”. Nick reassured me it would NOT be a little black dress party and I didn’t need tights.

I needed tights.

Luckily Nick was wearing a nice jacket which hopefully made up for his casual shoes and t-shirt. A few other men were in jeans and thankfully he wore his new jeans without any holes in them.


No turning back now, a friend spotted us and floated over towards us in her long floral dress. She directed us towards the wine and I hoped maybe she’d drank enough already that she wouldn’t notice my sweater.

I asked her what we should do with our food.

“What did you bring”?

“A crab dip”

“I’d say that belongs on the starter table which is over there.”

And then she floated away as beautifully as she had come.


Nick and I had a pow wow.

We’d brought the dip in a tupperware. Our slices of bread were in a ziplock bag. We needed a plate to put this on. To arrange it and make it presentable. That was the plan. But how do we execute this plan? We’re past the point in the party where food is being arranged. I don’t even know who the host is. Or where she might be.

We carried our bag of food with us, made our way to the wine table and poured ourselves a glass. Glancing at the starter table, we noticed most of that course was finished. I should’ve listened to Nick when he’d suggested we bring dessert since we’d be arriving late. However, my brownies would’ve been laughable compared to what ended up on the dessert table.

The final plan: Leave the dip in the bag.

Grabbing a random plate and plopping out my dip on an almost empty table would be more embarrassing than me trying to pass off a pashmina as fancy.


So there we were. The youngest in the room. The most under dressed. This didn’t help my small talk confidence. At. All.


But we survived. And in the end I’m glad we went. I’m glad Nick met some of the ladies I’ve been getting to know, and if anything the night was a little window into a world we’re not normally part of.

We’ll be back next year.

And we’ll be fancy.

I will buy tights.

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