Somehow Ziggy and I were the first to arrive at Jordan’s. But the table had ten chairs around it. Trying to do the dinner guest thing right, Ziggy and I had brought a bottle of gourmet olive oil instead of wine.
Jordan cooed appropriately over the oil and put it directly into a rack next to the stovetop.
“Where’s…?” I realized I had forgotten his boyfriend’s name again. “I don’t know why I can never remember your partner’s name.”
“Hm. The fact I don’t have one at the moment might have something to do with it?”
“Oh. Maybe. I guess I haven’t been keeping track. Ha ha.” I felt a bit of chagrin. “I confess, I’m not feeling the most social today.”
“He woke up with a bit of a headache,” Ziggy added.
“Yeah, and my energy’s low overall.”
“Here,” he said. “Do something useful and then see how you feel. The table needs to be set and these cucumbers need to be sli–” He stopped dead with the kitchen knife in his hand, looking at me.
“It’s all right, Jordan. I won’t have, like, flashbacks to the accident or anything.”
“But maybe you should handle the–”
“I’ve got the table,” Ziggy said, breezing over to it and holding up a square of linen. “You were serious about needing napkin rings.”
Jordan. “Yeah, I was.”
“I’ve got you covered.” Ziggy set about channeling Martha Stewart or something and I turned my attention to the cucumbers.
While I was slicing I heard the buzzer announcing the next guests. I was and yet wasn’t surprised to see Jonathan and Davide; Jordan built guest lists the way he built dance floor sets. The two of them handed over a bottle-shaped paper bag. I felt good about the olive oil, then felt silly about having feelings about the whole thing. But the cucumbers were sliced.
I shook hands with Davide, apologizing for my hands being damp, and then gave Jonathan a peck on the cheek. “You’re not at your folks’?”
“Just came from there,” he said. “They served at noon.”
“That’s the kind of thing my mother would have done.” Just thinking about it made my blood pressure rise. “Make everyone get up early to get dressed up for a holiday.”
“At least there was no church service associated with this one,” J said.
“Plus noon isn’t considered early for most people,” Ziggy said, twining his arm around mine. “How are you, Jonathan?”
“I’m well, and you?”
“As well as can be expected,” Ziggy said with a too-sweet smile.
The buzzer sounded again and Jordan called out that we should let them up. I pushed the button and waited to see who it would be. It was a short woman all in black crowned by a frizz of deep purple hair, which was a different color from the last time I’d seen her, so it took me a moment to register who I was looking at.
Magenta, on the other hand, had no trouble recognizing me. She threw her arms up in the air, proclaimed my name in her cockney-esque accent, and then hugged me hard. “How the fuck are you, mate?”
“Fucked up, as usual,” I answered. “You?”
“What is it with you Americans and your fecking holidays on a Thursday?”
“Hello, Madge.” Jordan swept over to take her coat. “I’m glad you could make it.”
“Make it! There’s nothing else you can do on a day like today because everyone in the entire country has fucked off.”
“Well, I’m glad I invited you then, so you’re not just stuck in a hotel, watching cable.”
“Likewise. Smells amazing, by the way. Ziggy!” If I thought she’d been excited to see me, she practically tackled Ziggy. After that, Jordan introduced her to Davide.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, shaking her hand.
“And I, you,” she said with a funny little bow. “Oh, honestly, Americans, I come here to get away from everyone in Britain being so polite they can barely speak a’tall. Can we stop, right now? It’s making my teeth hurt.”
“Hear, hear,” said Jordan from the kitchen area, where he had hurried to tend something. “Don’t make me get out the MDMA. You all need to relax. In fact, come help me carry this stuff to the table.” Jordan didn’t mess around. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, all came out of the oven in various dishes.
At the table it turned out Ziggy had folded the napkins to look like birds. “Look at these darling things!” Madge declared.
“I did those,” he said, taking a seat and shaking the napkin out. “Things I learned in my short stint as a caterer in art school.”
“Trav has a way of bringing out everyone’s hidden talents,” she said with a laugh.
Thank goodness for Madge, honestly, because everyone being too polite had been making my teeth hurt, too. Things were considerably looser for her presence. We quickly settled into eating and talking and she regaled us with tales of Wednesday’s Child’s recent tour through Finland, Iceland, and the Netherlands. (“Fucking Scandinavian high goths, so hardcore.”)
We stayed around the table for dessert and coffee. I was mostly quiet and content to let the more flamboyant personalities in the room carry the conversation. So was Jordan, I noticed, but that was Jordan’s way.
A round of smaller desserts and more coffee followed as we lingered. And then the buzzer sounded again. Jordan gave a Mr. Spock “fascinating” sort of look. “I’m not expecting anyone else.”
He went to answer it while I worked on melting a chocolate bonbon in my fresh cup of coffee.
(P.S. It was not Digger.)
[Note from ctan: You guys doing all right out there? Everyone survive tax season OK? It’s been a madhouse here but things are starting to calm down a little! -ctan]