Fashionably late, I understand. I’ve never been any good at it, but I get it. You arrive a little late, after everyone else is there, and you make an entrance.
Me? If the invitation says 2:00, I’m within spitting distance by at least five till. I might even have to drive around the block a few times to give the host time to put the vacuum cleaner away.
Bad traffic? I’ve put that into the equation. No parking? I’m early enough to never have to worry about it. And sure, I might be the first one there. That’s fine. The host gets to quit worrying that no one’s going to show up and I get to stake out a spot right next to the shrimp plate.
It’s served me well for 50 years. I arrive early enough at wedding receptions to switch my assigned seat. At movies to never have to sit in the front row. And at parties when the shrimp plate is still full.
But things are apparently a little different in Mexico.
So far, most of my invitations have beeen for kids’ birthday parties. Big extravaganzas where the whole family is invited. And because they seem to start at 4:00, when the grandson’s parents are still at work, it’s my job to get him there.
He’s excited and I’m prompt, so we show up for the first party at 4 p.m. on the dot. He’s wondering where all the kids are and I’m wondering if maybe I was supposed to turn left instead of right at the first OXXO. Not only are no other guests there, but when we finally find the hosts they’re still blowing up balloons and clearly surprised to see us. It seems we arrived unfashionably on time.
We try to do better the next time. I change his clothes twice, put my make up on at home instead of in the car and drive in the slow lane of traffic. But even with the best of intentions, I can’t seem to get anywhere later than 15 minutes after the time on the invitation. We’re still the first ones there and the shrimp plate (better known as the popcorn bowl at kid’s parties) isn’t even out yet.
The next party was on a weekend and I was relieved of my driving duties. My daughter, who wasn’t listening when I taught her the importance of both thank-you notes and promptness, managed to arrive a full forty-five minutes after the start time. Way beyond fashionably late in my book, but still 30 minutes before the person who invited her showed up.
I’m pretty sure there’s going to be another invitation in my future and I’m not quite sure what to do. I think we turn our clocks up an hour pretty soon. Maybe if just forget to change my watch ...