When my husband and I lived in Boston, we attended a lot of readings at book stores. We didn’t have any extra money back then and the readings were free. Also, there was free cheese. So when I started planning my own book launch, I knew cheese would be a part of it.
I am not what you would call a party planner. I messed up the spellings of at least half a dozen e-mail addresses on my evite, and I was never sure if I had too many activities or too few. Plus, I’m bad with numbers. I never knew how many people were actually coming, and when I was calculating the amount of food I’d need, I wasn’t sure there’d be enough.
“What if I run out of cheese?” I said. It became a running joke: “The cheese, the cheese.”
“People are coming to see you,” said my friend Mary. “No one will care if you run out of cheese.”
But when Wendy Shang took me to Costco (my first trip!) I was afraid people would care so I bought a lot of cheese. Too much cheese.
When the party was over, I took the perishables to Susie’s house. Susie is one of several friends who works or volunteers with AFAC, the Arlington Food Assistance Shelter. We’ve gone there a couple of times, to bag groceries. A lesson, we thought, for our kids.
Susie brought the cheese with her the next morning. The family who got it had children, including a little girl. The girl wouldn’t let them pack the cheese in a grocery bag, Susie said. She just held onto it, saying: “Queso! Queso! Queso!”
Which is when the cheese stopped being a joke and started being a lesson — but not one for my kids. One for me.
**I know when people hear the word Boston this week, their mind goes to just one thing. I’m not writing about that today, but it is on my mind, along with my love for that city, especially in spring.