How NOT To Plan a Summer BBQ in 15 Easy Steps (Plus Bonus Swimming Pool Etiquette! Uh, NOT!)

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Yup, Summer is Upon Us! Here’s how NOT to Plan a BBQ Get-Together!

  1. Feel guilty remembering last July when you were grilling steaks in your backyard, the newly moved-in next-door neighbor popped his fat head over the fence and yelled, “Mmm, something sure smells good!”
  2. Resolve to invite anyone who lives within “Wafting Aroma” distance.
  3. Rethink leaving notification flyers under everyone’s welcome mat on their front doorstep because that’s what pushy realtors and obnoxious cable companies do. Instead hang “Everyone is Welcome to Our Backyard Cookout” posters on group mailboxes.
  4. Hide your shock when the postman personally delivers bills/letters to your porch and then asks if it’s okay to bring his cousins and their kids?
  5. Overhear through your open window two mothers chatting on the sidewalk below, “Do you know her? I don’t either. How lame. Maybe she has no other friends.”
  6. Realize you wrote “Potluck” on the invites to promote camaraderie and teamwork, but now everyone will probably just think you’re cheap. Also since you didn’t do that organized Martha Stewart trick where you divide the alphabet into A-L = side dish/drinks and M-Z = main course/appetizer, there will now be 17 containers of Costco white chocolate macadamia nut cookies on your dessert table.
  7. Knock on individual doors because you forgot to put RSVP info in your flyer. Act surprised when the first neighbors (The Coopers?) thank you for inviting them, but then they remark they’ll only come if they’ll know someone else there. Reassure them that the O’Donnell family will definitely be attending, because you know they like them. Break a sweat running to the O’Donnell house and casually mention the Cooper family will be at your BBQ and you hope they’ll come too?
  8. Pray that the Coopers and the O’Donnells never EVER bring this topic up in conversation with one another.
  9. Go in your backyard and fret that your plants are dying, your lawn furniture is tattered, and everyone else’s property is surely a better place to hold a BBQ than yours. And what’s there to do back here after scarfing down burgers? Absolutely nothing.
  10. Re-landscape, buy patio seating, and put in an underground swimming pool with a built-in waterslide.
  11. Make the case to your husband that you need to repaint your home’s interior as neighbors need to walk thru your entire house to get to the backyard because if they go via the side gate, it stinks due to trashcans. Keep talking about Benjamin Moore “Swiss Coffee Shoreline” color palette when he interrupts and says he’ll simply relocate the garbage barrels inside your garage.
  12. Phone a marriage counselor when the divorce papers are delivered.
  13. Field phone calls from your siblings and parents who complain they were looking forward to a quiet family reunion BBQ but now you had to go and invite a bunch of strangers so now they’re not coming.
  14. Traipse around the entire neighborhood canceling your event when the local weatherman claims an unseasonable rainstorm is hitting San Diego this weekend.
  15. Ask what looks like your mailman’s grandma to please pass the butter for the corn-on-the-cob and then tell the mailman’s cousin’s children that you’d appreciate if they’d use their indoor voices while sitting at your formal dining room table.

Do’s And Don’ts To Get Along Swimmingly At a Community Pool!

This season you may be visiting a group swimming pool, so here’s my official list of Do’s and Don’ts, which you are encouraged to take with a grain of salt. (Or if your pool isn’t a saltwater based system– a capful of chlorine.)

  • DO arrive at the community pool with proper identification and whatever keycard you need to get through the gate. DON’T shout out to nearby sunbathers on lounge chairs from behind the bars, “Listen! I really do live here. I can prove it. Maybe you know my neighbors, The Coopers or The Odonnells? You can call them to verify my residency. Ready? 760 – 944 …” And DON’T rattle off a list of neighborhood trivia (like previous fires, burglaries, times car alarms go off in the morning, or who the mailman is sleeping with) as further evidence. If you’re desperate (and you really do reside in the development) DO make your best puppy dog expression at the individuals sitting under the umbrellas nearest the fence and offer to share your oatmeal cookies or fudge brownies with them if they let you in.
  • DON’T bring oatmeal cookies or fudge brownies to a pool! It will exacerbate the current ant problem. But DO bring “Ants on a Log” (the old peanut-butter on celery sticks with raisins to get kids to eat healthy) because the ants will view this snack as a prophetic bad omen and march off the premises.
  • If it’s forbidden to play “Marco Polo” (and it should be!) DON’T tell your children it’s okay to start shouting “Parco Molo!” at the top of their lungs instead. Just DON’T. Also while swimming, DO offer friendly salutations to people you recognize strolling by, but if they casually inquire, “So how’s the water today?” DON’T automatically answer with that tired cliché, “Like a bathtub!” There are many other ways to describe a warm pool so DO be creative. DO say, “Like a beach in Hawaii” or “like toasty hot cocoa.” DON’T say, “Like about 85 kids recently peed in it.”
  • Remember license plate holders that proudly declared, “My other car is a Porsche?” DO post a sign on your chest claiming, “My other bathing suit is a string bikini!” DON’T recline on your back overtly reading scandalous books with inappropriate covers for others to gawk at. But DO make phony dustjackets that say, “Dog-Paddling for Dummies” or “10 Wholesome Short Stories to Read at Public Swimming Pools” to slip over your provocative novels, because you shouldn’t have to miss all those juicy chapters!
  • DO use the outdoor shower that’s usually provided before you jump in the pool because that’s its primary purpose, to clean off your yuckiness. DON’T assume the shower was built for your personal grooming habits after your swim, which means DON’T bring a deep-conditioner, a razor, a loofah brush, an acne facial mask, a fogless mirror, and a luxurious bathmat. DO bring a rubber-ducky cuz that’s just plain cute.
  • And finally, DO let that family (with the really sad eyes and a bag full of oatmeal cookies and fudge brownies) with no key or ID into the community pool, because it’s probably my six kids and me. And I swear (on my other bikini) that we really do live here!

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