You go to a party wearing a Dinosaur Jr. concert t-shirt you recently unearthed in your attic. The host had loved it when she saw it a few weeks ago so you wear it in her honor. It’s in perfect condition. It’s from 1991. It’s a party sure to be filled with hipsters of all ages as well as the parents of some of your kids’ friends and classmates. Many of the partygoers will have been born in or around 1991. You turned 28 that year. You’re glad there will be other people your age there.
It’s a potluck with three bands scheduled to play so you decide to bring your peanut noodles. Mix peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, tamari, sugar, and loads of ginger. Don’t follow a recipe. Put too much of everything flavorful in the mix and whisk it all together. Taste and add bits of this and bits of that until it’s perfect but needs a tiny bit more sugar. Accidentally pour 4 times the amount you planned on adding. Add hot water and mix until it’s pourable. Cook any noodles capable of holding the sauce in crevices and rinse with cold water. Pour five times the amount of sauce any recipe recommends; it should pool at the bottom of the bowl. Cook something green – they had baby broccoli at the store – and scallions in oil. Add a little soy sauce and sesame oil and toss with the noodles. Mix in a little spicy sesame oil for an undercurrent instead of the wallop you prefer.
When you arrive there’s no room for the gigantic bowl of food you brought so you place it on a small table and fret over it not even being tasted let alone eaten. Watch when someone takes a small amount. Smile when they go back for seconds, especially when they take a larger portion. Move it to the main table when the pizza boxes are cleared – there are many kids at this party – and place it next to one of the two tin baking dishes containing chicken wings. Visit it periodically and notice the level going down ever so slowly. People start to ask who made it. They want the recipe but there isn’t one. You tell them to start with the instructions for Mark Bittman’s cold sesame noodles but ramp it up in every way. Someone you’ve never met comes up and asks if you’re the one who made the peanut noodles. You’re pointed to by people asking each other about them. Another mom tells you they’re hands down the best she’s eaten. You feel good.
Generally you feel invisible at parties but your kids are there too, moving as one with the others, so your identity as a mother is solid, and then there’s your food. Early on one twin asks for your iPhone to read on the kindle app. Their good friend has two better friends and they’re both there. You feel bad. The kid’s mom had walked away from you mid-sentence five minutes earlier so you think you know how your child is feeling. Soon enough the phone is returned and all is fine. The band plays in the living room and you see the kids running outside through the window. They’re shouting and playing and having a blast. They come in pink-faced and sweaty to take fistfuls of chips and cookies; a parade of oversized ants storming through having been alerted to the presence of yet another dessert.
You’re talking to someone in the kitchen when your son comes over and asks you to hold the bloody tooth that finally came out. He puts it in your hand. It’s sticky and small and still warm. He fills your other hand with gummy bears and runs off, saying he’ll be right back. You hold the tooth in one hand and the candy in the other until five minutes pass. You ask the person you’re talking to if you can throw the gummy bears out. Has it been long enough? He tells you they’re sour patch kids, not gummy bears. He’s younger and he knows. You toss the candy, shove the tooth in your pocket and wash your hands.
Drink beer and talk to people. Try to remember not to overshare or act like an ass. Sit in the living room when the bands are done playing and talk to a mom and dad of two small boys. The littler one is nursing. Talk about never making enough milk for your twins. You’d get home from work, go straight to nursing and within a quick minute or two they’d shriek and cry in hunger and frustration. Talk about mixing the formula as quickly as you could and watching them suck the bottle dry in two seconds flat, leaving them full and content. Finally she’s feeding me! Somehow you start chatting about how you had to learn about charting your fertility and how surprising it all was. You mean that stuff wasn’t the beginning of a yeast infection? one of your friends had asked years ago when you discussed this with her. You had thought the same thing. Talk about the photographs in the book you read with a woman’s hand showing the different stages of “fluid” and how gross you found it, despite it all being so extremely fascinating. Halfway through the latter monologue realize that the room has gone silent and everyone is staring at you. Do your best to wrap up the conversation. It’s time to go home.