Tommy and I threw a cookout for the math grad students and post-docs last night, largely in an effort to build solidarity with the new first-years, but also because hey, it’s Labor Day weekend, and beer and hamburgers are fun.  The party was a smashing success.  Everyone had a great time, the food was delicious, and people are now excited about organizing more social events.  Apparently we set the bar. Score!

And I say we, but Tommy’s involvement was fairly limited.  He was kind enough to make a last minute run to Food Lion for ice, cheese and a two liter of Coke, and it’s entirely due to his suggestion that the post-docs were invited (I didn’t even think of it).  But the invitations, organization, alcohol provisioning, food purchasing, vegetable prepping, hamburger making and grilling fell to me.  Voluntarily, because I knew this party wouldn’t happen if I didn’t make it happen.  Voluntarily, because I didn’t want this to be another “byob and pay us back for the meat” event.  But then, when somebody disses your acquisition of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (even when he’s not helping pay for it), further comments that the Cottonwood Low Down Brown Ale you bought was a little too sweet for his taste (after drinking it), and finally drinks one of your (more expensive) bottles of Rogue instead of his own Sam Adams, it bites.

Do you remember The Little Red Hen?  In our Golden Book version there were a host of selfish and self-absorbed freeloading barnyard animals who refused to help in any part of the hen’s breadmaking.  

“Who will help me grind the wheat?” said the Little Red Hen.  “Not I,” said the Dog.  “Not I,” said the Cat.  “Not I,” said the Pig.  “Oh, not I,” said the Sheep.  And so the Little Red Hen ground the wheat into flower all by herself…

Naturally, at the end of story all the animals want to share in the loaf.  And the hen, a model social conservative, lets them smell the bread and then eats it – all by herself.  

As I kid, I loved that story.  My mom did, too, and I think I know why.  But the older I get, the more I wonder if the hen got indigestion.

What Tommy did makes me mad, but what am I going to do about it?  The only way to do anything is to compromise the hospitality and generosity I worked so hard to present last night.  And the only way to actually be generous, to not have simply put on a show, is to just let my resentment go.  What am I holding onto?  One beer?  A few hours of work and some money I could afford to spend?  

Or maybe I simply enjoy the righteous anger at having been ill-used.  Am I that petty?  Possibly.  But if that’s the case, I deserve a quote from Juliette: “Bitch, Puhleeze!”

That goes for you, too, Little Red Hen.

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