On Thursday, as I sat eating lunch in the Haymarket, my phone rang. It was M. from London.
"Where are you?" he asked.
It turned out that he was also at the Haymarket, having arrived from London the day before, so we walked down Kungsgatan and stopped and had coffee at a cafe, and he told me all about his brother and his movie and our mutual friends, and we decided that he should come to dinner on Friday.
So, I left work at 4 p.m. on Friday and bought everything I needed to make eggplant parmesan for eight people, and rushed home and chopped tomatoes and an onion, and cut eggplant into thin slices and fried it, and made bechamel with plenty of nutmeg, and grated cheese and kneaded dough and tossed salad, and as the guests arrived, put on the finishing touches and wiping sweat from my forehead and cursing the husband for showing up after all the guests, at last took a glass of wine along with M., and C., the fashion photographer and the sea captain and the children's book author.
Then A., the TV producer and I walked around the apartment, and she showed me how she could turn on the lights with her toes. She has, thankfully, very clean toes, the nails laquered a rather vivid orange.
"Dammit," she said when she'd finished. "I wished I'd bet you that I could do it."
Feh, I said. I would've known better than to make a bet with her. She always wins.
Then we sat down to eat, three conversations going on at once coalescing into one loud canon on politics, everyone a bit hot under the collar despite the occasional breaks to go out and smoke cigars on the front balcony, and when R., the pop star showed up, she was shocked to see we were only eight and not 20, because when she had talked to the husband on the phone before she arrived it had sounded a real cacaphony from her end of the receiver.
And even though I tried to steer the conversation away from politics by standing up and telling people to shut up already and listen to M. tell us about his movie, it just devolved into a conversation about religion. Which was just as bad.
But really, everyone survived.
The thing is, I've been thinking that what I'm best at is being the perfect host. Even if I can't get people to stop arguing about politics.
Too bad I can't get paid for it.
The Swedish phrase for the day is maten är klar. It means, more or less, dinner is ready.
- by Francis S.