February 9, 2006

Karl was only in Colorado for a few days, my pets, so I knew I had to lose no time. Chance encounters at Hancock Fabrics would not be enough to cement the bond between Karl and Suzette, but how else could I bring these two soon-to-be lovebirds together? Mini golf sounded a bit silly for someone of Karl's caliber, and I couldn't afford an outing to a fancy restaurant. A trip to the mountains might not show Suzette to her greatest advantage, since she was deathly afraid of insects and dirt and pine trees.

I was sitting at my kitchen table when inspiration conked me on the noggin. Literally! My kitchen bookshelves are not the most sturdy; I found them on the curb in front of Crazy Old Couple's house. We've lived on the same street for twenty years, Filthy and I, and I have yet to learn the real names of Crazy Old Couple. I do know, however, that they boast quite the Hummel collection and that every Saturday night, they fight like two starved cats over a chili dog. Anyway, "Parties for All Occasions" got pushed off the shelf by "Cut-Up Cakes" and "The Tea Lover's Compendium," and bounced off my coiffure, only to land on the table in front of me.

What did this event make me realize, mes amis? I saw that first, I would have to do something about those shelves before Filthy found me buried beneath cheesecake recipes and old issues of "Bon Appetit." Second, a dinner party would be the ideal opportunity to throw Karl and Suzette in the same room, at their sparkling best. It took me all of ten minutes to organize a menu, a shopping list and a decorating plan. The results, I fervently hoped, could last a lifetime.

A Rum Baba Torte Flambe would resign my beloved spouse to make nice in front of the guests. Candles (vanilla and banana bread-scented) would add a romantic shimmer to the dining room. Now I just needed guests. I asked Taffy and her husband, and Taffy said, "If I'm not barfing my lungs out, I'll be there. And Ken loves your cooking."

"How are you feeling, dear heart?" I could see that Taffy was looking a bit green around the gills.

"Oh, it's nothing that eight more months won't cure. Do you want to start a betting pool?"

I looked at her blankly. I confess that my mind was consumed by appetizer recipes and sophisticated yet lighthearted musical selections.

"You know, to bet whether Junior here is a boy or a girl?"

"What do you think it'll be?" I asked Taffy.

"I say a boy. He's breaking my heart already." And with that, Taffy rushed off to the employee restroom.

I think it'll be a girl.

In short order, I had Lois, Suzette, Taffy and Ken, that nice Mrs. Strauss and her great-nephew Frederick, Filthy and our neighbors the Chapmans signed up to attend my dinner party. The Chapmans would bring the Strawberry Hill and Suzette said she would bring Pictionary. It would be a scintillating evening, indeed.

Now I just needed the guest of honor.

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy