Monday, September 17, 2018

Of necessity...

Twenty-four hours earlier we judiciously resolved to leave the apartment by no later than 3:00 pm. That would give us enough time to have the car washed then arrive at our destination by 4:30 pm when we had been invited for a late afternoon Sunday dinner.  We poozled the liquor cabinet for two bottles of wine - both upmarket naturally - one white for him who drank nothing but; one red for posterity.  Dessert however was our instructed subscription. The wine was a calculated concession.  It was no secret our hosts had long ago abandoned teetotaling. As for dessert we deliberated various models - starting ambitiously with fresh fruit then nippily corrupting to Nanaimo bars, maple butter tarts or ice cream.  In the end we settled upon donuts - the reputedly "healthy" rendition from a local merchant. The wine would be the coup - though in my opinion arriving with a brown paper bag is a modern absurdity of social beneficence. One might as well proclaim insufficiency of the host's cellarette!

The journey into the City was somber. In the warm air and brilliant sunshine we were lethargic and pensive.  So many things to ponder. Summer is concluding. Red leaves have appeared. We depart three weeks hence. The telephone, television and internet are set for suspension. The insurer notified of the change of risk. The housekeeper commissioned. The prescription drugs ordered. Yesterday I decided against taking my new pillows, instead to use the ones I bought last year. The dignity of home is intractable. I withdrew a white cotton shirt from the closet in preparation for the day's outing.

We sat in the sunroom, each gingerly slicing the exotic cheeses and spearing the complicated stuffed olives with tiny plastic forks. Our conversation dissolved into current medical dilemma and over-the-counter pain killers. The soliloquies went full circle and concluded with the hallmark adage, "Old age is not for the pusillanimous!" Time to refresh the glasses. Then the energy of entertainment began to overtake.  Dry orders in callous tones issued from the kitchen. Knuckle taps on the kitchen window directed to the vagrant cook on the patio.  After a poignant delay the barbecue cover was removed and the burners ignited.  A huge steak retrieved from inside was boastfully mounted adjacent the grill. The sausage sizzled on the grate.

But first the escargots.  A ceremonious wedge of unsalted butter languished in cut-glass on a silver halo tray.  The salt dish was laden with geological shards of Maldon.  The aroma of fresh garlic in clarified butter was everywhere! The baguette pieces swiftly submerged in the remnant sauce and toasted crumbs of garlic.

By degrees the topics of discussion at table ambled from technology to politics to travel to children to the future and the past. The soporific effect of consumption was contemporaneously progressive. There was an unwitting lapse into a scene from "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" We helped to remove the dishes and clear the table. The focus of my playlist evaporated. Our hosts successively disappeared outside for a cigarette, the effects of which nonetheless prevailed until we later expunged the lingering contamination with a shower.

"A young man sits in a room. Outside it's a grey, rainy day. He looks at the rain and thinks that he is alone forever. Deep down, he screams. He screams to have someone on those rainy days. But that someone will never come, and he knows it."

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