1. Know your audience: There are different standards at play depending on the host(s) of the event...so let's just get this out of the way up front so that there is no confusion--white folks operate on slightly different rules. Don't get offended if you are reading this and are thinking, "Wow, that is an unwarranted generalization, possibly racist", because it isn't. White folks host summer parties where there might be some grill action, some pool action, and probably some business/networking; whereas black/brown people host cookouts for any random, arbitrary reason. I could write an entire post about the differences, but I will distill everything to these three (3) main points:
- There is never enough food at the white folks' BBQ, but there is always plenty of beer and chips. Eat before you go.
- Because there is never enough food, being a vegetarian or vegan at the white folks' party actually works in your favor. The opposite is true at the black/brown folks' gathering.
- Unless you are or will be related by marriage to the white folks hosting the event, there is always a networking component, so govern yourself accordingly.
But the shock of this last election finds him disillusioned to the point where you dare not say anything, even as he hints at his need to unload. The election of Montana Max has him so upset that he now defends Obama, Hillary, George W. and even Ronald Reagan, which is why you need to listen politely and have your escape plan ready to execute after about 15 minutes.
3. Special Dietary Issues: Eat before you come. While there will be plenty of food options available, just know in advance that if you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, have food allergies, etc., you are probably out of luck. Everything will have come into contact with meat, dairy, or whatever triggers your allergies at some point, so don't even ask. In fact, you should assume that unless you are at the white folks' party, the only safe thing to eat is the green salad with no dressing and the chips.
4. Attire: This is a matter of extreme importance, because you will always be judged by that really unfortunate outfit you wore to the BBQ, so play it safe. Maxi dresses with cute accessories are standard for the ladies; cargo shorts and polo shirts work for the guys. If you are not a maxi dress person, then wear your cropped pants and a nice tunic. But do not show up in the mini-dress that only slightly covers your behind, brand new high-heeled sandals, team apparel, or any kind of romper. And don't just throw on a tee shirt and shorts unless you are at the white folks' party for your kickball team. Because somebody's grandma is at the BBQ and not only will she notice, but she will say something directly to you if you are dressed inappropriately. You've been warned.