Lately I’ve been inspired by the idea of Christian hospitality. In the past few months I’ve been making some baby steps towards playing hostess more regularly, not only inviting friends to my home more often but doing little extras to treat them as honored guests. As difficult as it is for a disorganized introvert like me, I’ve learned to delight in going the extra mile by tidying up the house or even by having a cold pitcher of frugal fruit tea ready upon my friends’ arrival.
When fellow blogger and good friend Mrs. Darwin showed up at my door this morning, it was a moment of realizing how far I’ve come in this area. The breakfast dishes had been cleared and put away, the table was ready for lunch, there was an array of toys on the porch for the children to play with, and I’d even thought to stock up on cheese pizza to have a kid-friendly lunch handy.
As the children dashed outside, I invited Mrs. Darwin to make herself comfortable in the living room. I offered her a tall glass of water with a splash of lemonade and lots of ice — the perfect refreshment for a summer’s day! In what was my crowning achievement in this new endeavor of honoring my guests through casual yet elegant entertaining, I’d whipped up a pan of Kalyn’s scrumptious mushroom feta breakfast casserole. I thought it might be nice for my friend and I to dine on more sophisticated fare than the children’s cheese pizza, and couldn’t wait to surprise her with this Martha Stewart-esque twist for our little playdate. I had to admit, I was quickly becoming an old pro at this whole gracious hospitality thing.
After popping the casserole in the toaster oven for reheating, I set a timer and turned to tell Mrs. Darwin about our lunch menu.
Unfortunately, I saw something on my kitchen floor as I walked over to her, and the sentence came out as: “Could I offer you some [expletive] SCORPION? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO THERE IS A [expletive] SCORPION ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR!”
It was at that moment that I realized: when I instituted my “no scorpion handling” policy this time last year, boldly vowing that I would never attempt to kill a scorpion again, there was one little detail I’d glossed over: WHAT, THEN, WILL I DO THE NEXT TIME I SEE ONE IF I’M NOT GOING TO KILL IT? The only other time I’d seen a scorpion in the house since then was when my mother-in-law was here, and she put it down the disposal. I found myself deeply wishing that I had pondered the question a bit more before, oh, finding one sitting right in front of me on my kitchen floor with six children under age seven in my house.
Noticing that I was backed against a wall, spending most of my mental energy trying not to spew profanity, Mrs. Darwin got up and suggested that we get rid of it. After listening to me hysterically list counter-arguments along the lines of “THESE THINGS DON’T DIE!” and “NO SERIOUSLY I AM NOT KIDDING YOU WE’LL JUST MAKE IT MAD!!!”, she pointed out that, short of packing all the kids up and leaving the house, we didn’t have a choice.
While I was contemplating the logistics of abandoning the house and putting it up for sale as is, Mrs. Darwin interrupted my thoughts to ask me to get her a big book. She was going to take control of the situation. She would kill the scorpion.
After grabbing the heaviest textbook from our bookshelf and tossing it in her general direction, I resumed cowering in the corner.
“IT’S NOT GOING TO DIE!” I predicted ominously while jumping onto a chair to protect myself from danger. “What if it stings you? What if it starts running right when you let go of the book? What if you miss? OH IT’S SO TERRIBLE I CAN’T LOOK!!”
After becoming increasingly frightened herself due to my naysaying and general hysteria, Mrs. Darwin finally dropped the book.
I immediately told her of the limited success this book-dropping technique had the last time I tried it, and asked if she wouldn’t mind jumping on it a bit. After my guest was done jumping on the book to make sure the poisonous arachnid was properly smashed, I asked from the safe confines of my kitchen chair if she wouldn’t mind moving it back and forth a bit for good measure.
We couldn’t leave the book there all day since it was right in the path of the children’s play area (THOUGH BELIEVE ME I THOUGHT ABOUT IT), so it was time for the moment of truth: we had to move the book. We had to see if it was still alive.
Mrs. Darwin hesitantly approached the book. “IT’S GOING TO MOVE!” I screeched as I jumped down from my chair and ran into the hall. She took a broom and pushed the book a bit. Nothing. She pushed it a bit more to lift it slightly, and we saw:
Hindsight being 20/20, I recalled that that time that I’d seen a scorpion survive a book dropping was when it was on the carpet. Ah, yes. As she now pushed the book away to reveal a pulverized, mangled, surprisingly liquidy scorpion carcass, I realized that perhaps dropping books on scorpions on hard linoleum works just fine. Perhaps it was not in fact necessary to have my guest jump on it and smear it back and forth. Lesson learned.
Mrs. Darwin then offered to deal with the mushy remains for me. In the spirit of Christian hospitality, I felt that it was the right thing to do to offer to get the dustpan for her rather than make her fetch it herself.
“It’s gone,” she announced as I heard the toiled flush from our guest bathroom.
Just then, the timer beeped. The casserole was ready. After I finished wiping what could only be described as scorpion juice off of my kitchen floor, I rinsed off my hands and resumed my sentence from a few moments before: “Could I offer you some mushroom feta casserole?”
And that’s how we do hospitality at my house.