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  • Flaming Pineapples

    September 23, 2009

    Warning: The following post contains hyperbole and mockery.  No actual pineapples were harmed in the writing of this post.  This post is not intended to insult those who love flaming pineapples, coconut bras or themed parties. Although it probably will.

    * * * *

    It always starts out small.  It does.  “We’ll keep it simple,” they say. “Just getting together,” they say.  “It will be fun,” they say.  But at some point, there will be a flaming pineapple. Mark my words.

    A number of years ago, I was in a supper club with five or six other couples. The gal who invited me enticed me to join by saying, “We’ll keep it simple. Just getting together. It will be fun.”

    That sounded good.

    “Every month, someone will host the supper in their home,” she went on to explain.

    “And they will plan the menu and the theme.”

    Theme. A chill ran up my spine. I know what theme means.

    Theme means that someone, at some point, under the influence of estrogen, will go all Martha and do something uber-creative, like carve a watermelon into a sailboat for a centerpiece, and she’ll make place card settings out of peppermints and pipe cleaners, and she’ll greet you at the door wearing a sailor suit while Anchors Away plays in the background.

    The watermelon sailboat ratchets up the Martha factor exponentially for the next hostess and each hostess thereafter.  Things begin to escalate.  Before you know it, there will be a flaming pineapple for a centerpiece and the hostess is wearing a coconut bra and a hula skirt.

    And then next month, when it’s your turn to hostess, you spend 30 days racking your brain to come up with something that could top a flaming pineapple. And you begin to measure your value as a human being against the creativity of your table favors.  And then you are left to hang your head in shame, because who can top a flamPhotobucketing pineapple?  No one. Only Martha.

    Earlier in the week, I got an email from Sean’s room mother asking that each mom sign up to host a monthly luncheon at school for the kindergarten class.  Then I got an email from another mom who suggested each month have a theme.

    So I signed up for May, the last month of school.  That should give me plenty of time to learn how to properly ignite a pineapple.

    * * * *

    Post script:  I’m supposing that I was still on the email list only because word hadn’t gotten around that I sent my child to school this week with a lunch of bacon and cookies.  Wait… I think I just settled on a theme.

    41 Comments »

    1. Kathy says:

      Loved this post. It is so true, the creative ones always try to rope us into going to much more trouble and expense than we had planned. Themed is one thing, but don’t ask me to come in costume.

      September 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    2. Julie at Elisharose says:

      As a creative type, I just have to say that we can’t help it. It’s not that we want to outdo anyone. We just get a little idea and it sort of develops a life of its own and before we know it the centerpiece is on fire! I’ve been there! I know! I’m sorry! I wish I could stop. The year I stood on a ladder and made a circus-type tent with crepe paper on the 10′ ceiling of my dining room for my 3 year old’s birthday party was when I knew that I was hopeless.

      Now, I will say that I can squeeze a nickel 10 ways from Sunday, so my creations are never expensive. They have, however, been more elaborate that was necessary. Forgive me. And yes, I have come in costume. Often. : )

      September 23rd, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    3. Tam says:

      I have total confidence in you, AM. I know you will come up with a lovely meal and a fine theme. And may the “forks” be with you.

      Sorry–just could resist. You’re little guy is too funny.

      September 23rd, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    4. Marian says:

      SO funny. So sadly true. I have disengaged from such nonsense– I can do what I can do within the context of my life right now, and that’s that– but I’ll admit that the guilt still catches up with me now and again.
      Perhaps an even better strategy would be to sign up EARLY, for THIS month, before things escalate. “What? The first one’s the day after tomorrow? No problem. Of course, I’ll have to just throw something together on such short notice…” You’d have a ready-made excuse for lameness, you’d be done for the year, and you could just sit back for the rest of the events and watch the flaming and wearing of tropical fruits ensue.

      September 23rd, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    5. Steffj89 says:

      im curious about the whole kindergarten luncheon thing? what is the reasoning? what is it? my kids eat at school every day, i dont know that I could bring myself to help cater a schhool lunch type thingy
      once a year for birthdayss is bad enough
      steff

      September 23rd, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    6. Amy says:

      You hit this one right on the mark. I’ve been having a bi-weekly prayer and Bible study in my home with a group of women for the last few months, and I have to say that in the last few hours leading up to our meeting each time I tend to want to throw together a “flaming pineapple” type of event when it’s not necessary or practical….thank goodness I have a husband to talk me down a notch and also two toddlers under foot that make it virtually impossible to accomplish that kind of feat. Plus, I’m finding that simple, but thoughtful entertaining seems to work better at making people more comfortable where no comparison traps are set.
      Sorry – didn’t intend to write a narrative here.
      Amy

      * * *
      I used to be the worst about it. I’m an uber-creative and I love to throw a party, still do, used to hand-make table favors and bake take home gifts wrapped in coordinating hand-stitched cloth, etc. But now, I don’t know if it’s a function of being older or having a kiddo, or the combination of both, but I’m more into simple elegance. A pineapple? Yes. Flaming? No. The urge to pole vault over the top is there, but I ignore it. 🙂

      September 24th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    7. Lysa TerKeurst says:

      Oh my stars, oh my stars… I am seriously about to wet my pants over here. This is one of the most true, hilarious posts ever!!!!!

      You must submit this as an article for publication. Of course, we would love to have it over at P31 if you’re interested.

      Love you and miss you friend.

      September 24th, 2009 at 6:11 am

    8. Sunny says:

      Funny and oh so true. Men compete but women escalate.

      I love the subtle symbolism; the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality and the flaming pineapple perfectly sums up Marthaism on steroids.

      September 24th, 2009 at 6:31 am

    9. Brigitte says:

      Urg. And I’m already freaking over my daughter’s November (therefore, probably indoors here) birthday in our teeny tiny house.

      At least for a May thing at school, the last party of the year, you could fall back on a generic “Summertime” theme. Don’t ask me what that entails, though!

      September 24th, 2009 at 6:34 am

    10. Kate says:

      Kindergarten luncheons??? Why??

      September 24th, 2009 at 8:36 am

    11. happy geek says:

      Do the cookies and bacon thing. I double dog dare you.
      He goes to a new school in the fall anyway:)

      September 24th, 2009 at 8:44 am

    12. Jeana says:

      OH, you kill me! It’s not everyone who can pack a lunch that is both food and pun.

      “Whatcha eatin’?”

      “Bacon, cookies.”

      Watcha doin’ later?”

      “Bakin’ cookies.”

      September 24th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    13. Rebecca in Colorado says:

      I feel so much better now. We and another family are prepping a medieval feast to celebrate the end of our home school unit. She sent me a link yesterday to the Perfect Family’s Feast, and I was feeling extremely inadequate.

      If I post pictures of our event, I’ll be sure to note that anything looking impressive is certainly a fluke.

      September 24th, 2009 at 9:13 am

    14. NAM says:

      My sister just linked me to a bacon cookie recipe:
      http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/09/bacon-cereal-and-orange-juice-breakfast-cookies-recipe.html#continued
      I thought it was weird enough that my child-that-does-not-eat may actually try it.

      September 24th, 2009 at 9:19 am

    15. HarryJacksMom says:

      go with the bacon! Jeana said it 😉 Between you and my DH, I just might survive this ledge! Thanx

      September 24th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    16. Great-Granny Grandma says:

      Have been away from Blogland for a while and am just easing my way back in. You write so well, I have been enjoying every missed post on your blog since my last visit.
      And this last posy gave me a good chuckle. It is so, so true.

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    17. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      I am so far on the opposite side. Birthday cakes are picked up on the way to the party – hope they have something that works. Paper plates, etc might match, might not. And we might just have frozen pizza.

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    18. Karen says:

      So hilariously true!…What in the world compels us sisters to such utter nonsense?
      Why is it “keep it simple” becomes code for something out of a spread seen in Southern Living?! I am just as guilty…but really am working on truly “keeping it real and simple”.
      Do ya think bacon and cookies would work for a preschool Christmas party theme?!

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    19. Iota says:

      I have a theory that it’s important NOT to be too creative, as it leaves less space for the kids’ imaginations. Although I expect they imagine all kinds of things when the flaming pineapples are brought out.

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:41 am

    20. Shannon says:

      Dude, bacon is a protein, and cookies contain flour, which is totally a grain.

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    21. Kathy says:

      Those uber-creatives can not help it. Times were I would start with a simple idea and it blew up in my head to chicken wire and strobe lights somewhere between the car, the grocery store and Hobby Lobby.

      But thankfully, with age, and tiredness, it is easier to tell it “no”.

      September 24th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    22. fern says:

      Sometimes, I try to sign up to be the first for these type of things–that way I can set the bar real low. I think I am doing a service to all the perfectionist mothers out there.

      I also learned to sign up quickly for bringing things to school parties, etc–I prefer to take paper goods–although I did manage to screw that up when my son was in 2nd grade. I thought I would just send paper cups and plates that I had in my house to the Halloween/Fall Festival. The martha-wanna-be room mother had other ideas. I was supposed to send holiday cups, plates, napkins, but they could not have skeletons, pumpkins, or any other “halloween” symbols on them. She actually called me the day before the party to make sure I had the “right” things. I sent solid orange–and boy was I looked down upon. I really didn’t care too much–I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Do 2nd graders really care what the paperplate looks like? And why are we giving them cupcakes in school anyway?

      The last I heard, the whole class has now grown up and gone off to college or other adventures–even though they had orange cups and plates instead of fancier ones. I do suppose that if I had sent generic cups and napkins (and no plates, as I had intended) the kids would have failed and would now be hanging out on street corners or sitting in their mother’s houses playing nintendo. Oh no! I just realized that if I had sent the fancy stuff they all would have gone to Harvard! I guess I really did screw it up.

      September 24th, 2009 at 11:27 am

    23. Elizabeth says:

      This was hysterical. I guess it all depends on your motivation for said flaming pineapples. If women really love and enjoy doing all that party crap and it doesn’t drain them of all power, energy and life right out of them, then I’m all for it. But for those of us who are grateful Martha Stewart is not our mother-in-law, you just make it fun and simple. I want my kids to remember a smiling non-stressed-out mother at events and not one at the end of her “handmade with cotton I picked myself” rope.

      September 24th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    24. @michaelswonmom says:

      I’m surprised that @MichaelsDaddy hasn’t commented yet. He is a lover of all things Hawaiian and I am sure he will want to know how to ignite a pineapple.

      September 24th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    25. zoom says:

      This made me laugh really hard. About 2or 3 years ago one of my husband’s friend’s wives suggested that we start a monthly dinner club. You could hear the air leave the room, as the other wives ( me included) needed to breathe into paperbags to keep calm.

      We love getting together. But at restaurants, where the only thing I have to worry about is if I want frozen or on the rocks, with salt or no salt.

      September 24th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    26. melissa says:

      Can I just say that my sweet son had a birthday gathering this past weekend, and he helped me decorate the cupcakes. The urge to direct the decorating was powerful. The desire to pole vault was pressing in. The lesson to let my sweet son guide won out. He had a great time, and we went simple, simple, simple.

      Maybe Sean can take the lead, and if he wants a flaming pineapple (or something else of a kindergarten equivalent), let him figure out how to make it happen. It could be a lot of fun that way… 🙂 Good luck and keep us posted!

      September 24th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    27. Heidi says:

      Planning a party of any kind is stressful (I definitely didn’t take after my mom, who loved hosting parties).
      In fact, I’d probably be the one to set the bar low again if things started getting out of hand, with women trying to out-do other women. Hee.

      September 24th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    28. Janette says:

      I love the creatives. I want to be like the creatives. I’m jealous of the creatives. I am a creative, in a sense, but sometimes my motivation stands behind my frustration and exhaustion. And, there’s always someone more creative than myself. Just like “there’s always a faster gun in the next town”, I heard someone say in Dodge City, once. True story. And they were not part of a melodrama, either!

      My dream is that everyone, EVERYONE, will be happy with the simplicities that life has to offer. That everyone won’t feel the need to over-snack our children after every field event, etc. That life is good enough for everyone. And that we’ll spend our creative energies giving to those who don’t have enough.
      A physician once told me after he diagnosed the chondromalacia in my knee, while assuming I was a avid runner, that “some people run because life isn’t good enough”. I told him I was not a runner (anymore), as such, but that I would take his comment under advisement. (I may have rolled my eyes a bit, when he wasn’t looking.)
      Yet, it stuck with me, that people are always finding ways to make their life better. I guess that’s what makes our world a wonderful place, but I wonder what our world would look like if everyone was truly satisfied, inside and out!

      September 24th, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    29. The G-Ma says:

      Oh, AM, Ah do so love yer hyper-bowl and sarcasm. These are such excellent literary devices, exceeded only by allegory and plagarism. But you don’t go there.

      Maybe these monthly adult parties should be themed like the kindergarten luncheons. Only no plates. Eat with your fingers, don’t spit, clean up your own mess. Say please and thank you.

      Despite the crumbs, bacon and cookies is splendid. Are splendid. Count me in.

      September 24th, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    30. Shirley Cohen says:

      OOOH…sorry, I am the one happy for the occasion, because I can’t cook, or care to bake, but give me some paper, scissors and a glue gun and I can go to town… I’m also willing to help you look really good in a coconut bra and some orchids in your hair, and I can even find some of those umbrellas and colored straws for the ‘real’ coconut cup drinks. Do you think everyone could wear a Hawaiian shirt, or is that asking too much?
      I hate to admit it, but I am sure in the middle of the night something will come to mind and I will have to wake up to remind myself, STOP it’s not your problem, nor is it really happening! I did see a blog with a recipe on how to make sushi candy…

      September 24th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    31. Lynn Prtorich says:

      I sent my son to school with a butter sandwich with sugar on it for a year. It’s the only thing he would eat. He’s 25 now and people still talk about how I gave him butter sandwiches to eat.

      I could happily live on bacon and cookies.

      * * *
      I was going to be one of those moms who never let her kid eat candy or go to McDonalds. Right now, I’d let him eat cardboard covered in powdered sugar if he’d just eat something, anything.

      September 24th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    32. momof8 says:

      Oh man, May? The grand finale? Could you please take your camera? And, um, bacon and cookies? Really? Cool. In Minnesota we have chocolate covered bacon at the State Fair. Do you do links? http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=515823
      I hear they deep fry it at the Texas Fair.

      * * *
      Honey, we deep fry everything in Texas. And then we cover it in cheese.

      September 24th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    33. Roxanne says:

      Bacon and cookies sounds good to me. . .but ONLY IF I can have flaming pineapple for dessert.

      * * * *
      Silly girl. You can’t eat the centerpiece!

      September 24th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    34. Tom says:

      When confronted with a predicament such as this, my general rule is to crumple like a Dixie cup. In this situation, that would mean the theme would be no theme at all. You tell your guests they must try to figure out the theme based upon the decor and dishes served. It’d be hours of fun. Maybe even days.

      Myself, I’d do the flaming pineapple every time. As my dear wife pointed out above, the Hawaiian motif always works and I don’t have to buy anything new. And it gives me an excuse to wear a Hawaiian shirt and light my Tiki torches.

      September 24th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    35. Kathy says:

      Honey, we deep fry everything in Texas. And then we cover it in cheese.

      Or gravy.

      ***
      AND gravy.

      September 24th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    36. The Confused Foreigner says:

      I was once quietly kicked out of such a supper club. I was really really busy at that time and often forgot about it until the last minute. (Everyone was supposed to bring something within that month’s said theme) … I think I got kicked out for lameness. It was done quietly and decisively. One month I was not notified of what the next month’s meet date was and it was never mentioned again in my presence. I guess I deserved to get the boot, but I was a little hurt about it then. Now, in light of the fact just thinking about cooking something themey makes me brain tired and just a tiny bit fearful…. everybody was probably happier after the parting of the ways.

      Bacon and cookies! yum 🙂

      September 25th, 2009 at 1:44 am

    37. Kathy says:

      Honey, we deep fry everything in Texas. And then we cover it in cheese.

      Or gravy.

      ***
      AND gravy.

      ****

      How stupid of me. Of course!

      September 25th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    38. Heather says:

      And here I sit, the type A who is thinking of what theme you could go with. “Of course summer!” I think to myself. She could have the cupcakes with the waves and the shark tips on them http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/summer-cupcakes?autonomy_kw=blue%20cupcakes
      Maybe the kids could draw flowers on the white paper table cloths or you could just make bright colored tissue paper flowers with pipe cleaners.
      Maybe she would want to make the candy cup caps with a graduation theme! Oh! That would be fun! http://www.bakerella.com/candy-cup-caps/
      And oh yes, this is not my turn to be the crazy mom with the coconut bra…that will come soon enough. My daughter is only 1. Hope all the flaming pineapples along the way don’t burn too many moms. Hang in there. I’m sure it will be delightful however you choose to celebrate.

      September 26th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    39. Shannon says:

      I am all over the EARLY parties so that the bar is set way low. Like, on the ground! A flaming pineapple would never enter my simple little mind….

      September 27th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    40. Joanna says:

      Serve bacon and frog legs and then say it’s the end of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Wonder if Kermit got that swine flu??

      Why are you groaning?? 🙂

      September 28th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    41. Julie says:

      I thought this was great! I love your line “women under the influence of estrogen”. It’s true. I am 56 and can look back and laugh now at what moms come up with sometimes! May–a great theme for May is “bakery”. Stop by your store bakery and pick something up on the way to the event!

      October 23rd, 2009 at 7:26 am

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