14.8 A Consumable
Providing a consumable creates an automatically shared experience.
In a nightmare about hosting, I sit in a stiff-backed chair across a slightly-too-small table from a person who is looking me directly in the eye. What do we talk about? Why are we here?? Why am I not wearing pants??? (Told you it was a nightmare.)
Happily, reality is not quite as scary as that, but we all have trepidation in company, feeling we don’t know what to do or say. There’s hope! Once we have our guest, our setting and our time frame, we can turn to the fourth element of creating a welcoming space for the dear humans: a consumable!
Providing a consumable creates an automatically shared experience. Food and drink are the most obvious. We meet at a pub for a beer and fried stuff. (Poll: pickles, mushroom caps, or mozzarella sticks?) Let’s say your guest chooses the spot - great! They feel comfortable in familiar surroundings. Let’s say you choose - great! You are sharing something you like, which is a very real vulnerability move. Beer and fried stuff make it easier for awkward humans to be near each other. We all eat! We can all talk about what we eat! And remember: this is all just an excuse to share who you are and what you have with another glorious immortal being … who just really loves ranch with mozzarella sticks!
Beer not your speed? How about The London Tea Room in downtown St. Louis? Commenting on the rich, floral, herby perfume of all the teas as you walk in, picking a table, looking around and settling in, our inner alert mammal gauging and becoming convinced of our security (it’s what we do!). All these behaviors ready us for connection, and when the Earl Grey and fresh scones with Devonshire cream arrive, well! We share our en-meated ability to raise simple wheat and leaves to the attention of immortal beings, bringing significance to the consumables and a moment of connection between people. Powerful stuff!
(Also - visit St. Louis so you can stop by the London Tea Room. We miss it terribly. If you feel moved to send the author a thank you gift, order me some loose-leaf …)