If you haven’t read the post below, you need to do that. Otherwise this won’t make sense.

Seventeen. That was the count of people here at one time. My hubby got home from teaching his late English class at 9:00. At 9:02, the first neighbors came (I think they were watching for him to return.) The next ones didn’t show up until 9:45. They stayed until midnight. I made a local spinach/cheese pastry thing, a macaroni salad (also local), and brownies. I also put on a pot of tea. When tea time came, I started to pour the tea and got only 5 glasses full… my pot was too small. So, with two teapots going, I felt like the tea guy who runs around town all day giving businessmen tea. I think everyone drank a sum total of 900 glasses.
Speaking of hot beverages, I was teaching at the hotel today and caught a peek at a report they were copying. It listed how much of each beverage they sold and how much money they made from that beverage. I didn’t see what time period the report was for, but I’d assume it was a week. They sold 500 instant coffees and made over $2000! They’re pretty proud of their sad little instant coffee. One time I got it there and they gave me hot water in a mug and a little packet of instant coffee. They didn’t even mix it up for me! That cost me about $3.50. I should have gone to the grocery store across the street, bought my own packet for 15 cents, and just ordered free hot water. Next time I’ll know.

But, we’re not talking about the exhorbitant rates they charge for hot beverages at the 5-star hotel. We’re talking about the seventeen people in my house.

It ended up going really well. The men all sat around the table and talked a LOT — often faster than my hubby could translate to my brother. I sat with the women and we covered the hot new topic: How fat I’m getting. I knew this week was Children’s holiday and another holiday commemorating WWI, but I didn’t know it was National Tell mab She’s Fat Week. At first, one neighbor told me. But, she can be tacky, especially if she feels that I’ve not been attentive enough. Then, the sweetest woman in the building told me I’ve put on weight. She at least told me nicely and then said it “suits me.” Yeah, right.

Cultural note: It’s not that rude to tell someone they’re fat. It’s not exactly polite, but they do it all the time. If I had been in a room full of Americans and they all told me I was fat, there would be a catfight starting. No, it would be an all-out WCW Smack-Down. Here, when they asked me if I was pregnant, I just grabbed my tummy and said “This ain’t no baby! It’s FAT!” Then, we laughed and I gave them more tea, all the while muttering “I may be fat, but yo’ ugly” under my breath. With a smile.

I did decide to make brownies from scratch. It takes the same amount of time as a cake mix and I didn’t want to use one of my precious mixes. And, I didn’t want anyone asking me for the recipe and figuring out my box-mix fraud scheme. They did see a bottle of maple syrup brought over for us. So, I gave them a spoon of it. They thought it was strange… especially when I told them it came from a tree. I don’t know the word for sap, but if I had, that would have really thrown them.

The funniest thing: Cologne. How many of you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well, in that movie, Windex is everything. I truly think that they ripped that off from this country and their cologne. It’s lemon-scented, mostly alcohol, dries out the skin, and I think it smells horrendous. They think it’s manna from heaven. I’ve seen people administer it to cuts and bruises, pour it in water and give it to injured people, put it on babies’ heads, and — of course — liberally apply it on their heads and shoulders knees and toes (knees and toes). Here’s the usage that really takes the cake…. While I was pouring my nine-hundreth glass of tea, I spilled a few drops on the couch. No big deal. I get a rag and begin to dab at it as my mother taught me. (“Dab, don’t rub…. Rubbing it just makes the stain go deeper.” In this, my mother is backed up by Helpful Hints from Heloise.) They started asking if I had any cologne. I told them that I was unfortunately out. I didn’t tell them that I’ve been out for over 1 year and won’t buy anymore because I hate it. They might wonder how I live without it. Well, one neighbor jumps up and runs next door to get her cologne for me. I dab it on a cloth and dab the couch. That just won’t do. Apparently, they’ve never read Heloise’s Helpful Hints. They poured it on and scrubbed the couch. I must admit that the tea stain is gone.

It’s been replaced by a cologne-stain.

Overall, it was a good evening and my bro was a real trooper. He didn’t complain or fuss. And, they thought I had the pastry made instead of making it myself. So, I’m proud of that. We were all so tired at the end of the evening, the boys went to put their jammies on. I decided that was the time to show my brother my village gear. So, I put on my village hammer-pants and headscarf and went out to show him. Because he wasn’t impressed enough, I did the MC Hammer dance and began singing “Can’t Touch This.” Although that isn’t as good as my friend Papa Steve’s Sir Mix-A-Lot a la Ed (Don’t ask…. they won’t release the video footage for anyone to share), it’s still pretty good. The best thing about village pants: Drawstring. No matter how fat I get (according to the neighbors), my hammer pants will fit!

Now, here’s the recipe for the macaroni salad I made. (Kids, don’t try this at home without adult supervision.)

Cook a bunch of elbow macaroni. Drain.

Add 2 big spoons of mayonnaise.

Add 2 big spoons of yoghurt.

Cut up some pickles and put them in.

Add garlic and herbs (dill is best, italian seasonings would also work).

Before serving, pour olive oil on top.

Sounds just yummy, doesn’t it?