For many people the clash of economic theory and home entertaining can trigger a sharp upswing in the Household Anxiety Index. Not that Ben Bernanke seems to care.
But there's no reason to panic. We're here to walk you through it.
If you are like most people, the rekindled debate among competing economic theories has thrown your dinner party planning into disarray.
From the seating arrangements – classical-Keynesian-classical-Keynesian? – to the menu, there is virtually no part of the evening immune from potentially awkward clashes of methodology or ideas.
It goes without saying that the demands of completely unfettered, free-market style entertaining cannot be reconciled with the requirements of etiquette. No one really wants to compete for pie, no matter what their philosophical views.
And while some guests may not approve of overt attempts to orchestrate the course of the evening, a little central planning can greatly reduce the risk to your social currency.
A well-planned cocktail hour will start things off on the right note no matter what the Fed chairman says. Trendy, Depression-era cocktails, however, should be avoided, as these are likely to spark protracted bickering over the wisdom of government intervention in the economy.
Wine is a safer choice. While the trade-offs are subject to debate, a good rule of thumb is to open a Keynesian bottle first. Fans of the champagne loving John Maynard Keynes would rather spend too much than live to regret a lesser vintage.
This can also serve as enough of a distraction to keep them out of the kitchen, where they are prone to bouts of tinkering that may or may not improve the state of the moussaka.
Stick to topics of broad general agreement: the real cost of a thing is what you have to give up to get it, a rising tide will lift at least some boats and nobody looks good with a Greek haircut.
Be sure that your planning includes extra dessert, no matter how many guests have offered to bring one. This will smooth over any embarrassment over the fact that the disciples of Adam Smith and the Austrians, acting on nothing more than individual motivation, have all brought pie. No one knows why this happens, but it is every host’s nightmare.
Does everyone get an equal piece of the pie? Should the pie be larger? Is pie even a good idea? What do you do with all of the leftover pie?
These are questions that can throw the best laid table out of balance. But a quick-thinking host can restore equilibrium by substituting other baked goods for the surplus pie.
As Milton Friedman might have said, it is very hard to fight over cupcakes.
This piece first appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.
from the economic indicator archives: It's not the economy so much as the pull-up bar, Stocks rally to reports of sixth-grader's birthday repeat
You know how when you open your washing machine and Cheerios fall out and you shake your head in mock exasperation because even though there is cereal in the laundry you recognize that it is the sort of thing that comes with the territory?
And then you think, it won't be long and they will be all grown up. Soon we will have nothing but fond memories of finding Cheerios in the washing machine?
I mean, WTF? The boy will be in college in a few months. The girl is learning to drive. It's not like we're washing bibs in there. It's like we're washing bibs in there.
from the art supply stockpile:
People are always telling me, "Suburban, you are like the perfect wife."
Okay. That's not true. My friends are always telling me I am the worst wife ever. But there is no possible way they have done the kind of research that would be required to support a statement like that. As far as I know, no such research even exists. Who would do it? And what sort of criteria could pass for objective?
I think I am as qualified as anyone to say that Mr. Kamikaze is a lucky man, plus or minus a few percentage points for margin of error. But I am not one to rest on my laurels. You don't get laurels that look like this by resting on them.
Even so, I am always looking for ways to be an even better wife. Than some.
After 11, 14, or possibly 20 years of marriage, I find it often comes down to the things I don't do. I don't buy him tickets to the theater or the ballet unless I know there will be nudity. I don't ask him to go shopping with me. I never ask for his opinion on matters of fashion, personal grooming or song lyrics. I don't tell him my dreams, unless they're dirty, and I don't expect him to remember what I want for my birthday, Christmas or Valentine's Day. I write it down for him and tape it to the front of the refrigerator. Then I e-mail it to him at work. Then I just buy it for myself and tell him thank you.
I'm not saying it's a perfect system. It's just better than yours. Possibly. It's also possible I am doing everything completely wrong. In which case, you should probably do it differently.