There were 10 of us in that dinner--8 guys and 2 girls. I myself had no idea how the event would turn out. The invitation just came: dinner at a friend's place, but with a difference. This time, the food would be catered, there'd be linen, flowers and candles, it'd be a sit-down affair, and we were all to come in white. You can picture me cracking up when I first heard of it. E anliit 'ata ng unit ni Chris for a sit-down dinner, I said. But the real reason was, I'd never gotten the hang of stuffy dinner affairs with gleaming cutlery, dainty (and often bland) food servings, all that fancy stuff. Prim and proper is not my ideal mode for meals; relaxed and casual is.
Imagine how flabbergasted I was, and all the other guests, when we arrived at the venue. The place had been spruced up, the table decked out with white blooms and flickering candles, the plates and silver all set for a romantic night, the wine ready for popping. I half-expected a violin quartet to emerge from the bathroom to serenade us!
It was lovely. The touching part was, only two guys were mostly responsible for it. J. and L. were the only couple in the group, and the special dinner was their idea. They had badgered us weeks before to block off the date, promising us a different evening on a day mostly devoted to lovers of the romantic kind. They wanted to honor their friends, and now we were told to just sit back and relax, because it was their show to run.
J. and L., by the way, are two young and rather hunky fellows, but they are also two of the sweetest guys I know--daredevil drivers on the road (we always say our prayers whenever they're at the wheel) but also capable of whipping up a mean meal--or in this case, ordering a fine one. For this evening, they started us off with delicious soup with pasta (I insisted on a second serving), followed by appetizers of fish fillet and beef with vegetables. Halfway through I was full, but still ahead were the main course--lengua--and the obscene dessert--moist chocolate cake with strawberry toppings. I'm describing them in a very plain way, but really, all these treats came in artful servings. (Two days later I was weighing 4 pounds heavier. But anything for friends.)
We had so much fun savoring the food, the talk, the laughter, the company. J. and L. also remembered to hand each of us a printed card of our zodiac forecast, with a long-stemmed rose to accompany it. I'm not into flowers, much more the horoscope, but I so appreciated the gesture. Man, did they think this through! At the end of it all we had to give the couple a round of applause and our tightest hugs, for a Valentine dinner that made each of us, their friends, feel individually special. Ahem, with fellas like these, who needs The Effing One?
Postscript: Fate just had to remind me, though, that my life is a Woody Allen movie. After dinner Chris popped a question in a horrified tone: "Ay, whose shoes are these?" They were mine. Stupid me, I had taken them off and placed them in a corner under a floor lamp, without realizing a candle was burning inside it. By the time we took notice my shoes were already buried under a mound of white candle droppings. They were black suede Florsheims. Kinda heartbreaking, but I wasn't about to let it ruin the great evening, so we all just had a good laugh. I went home not caring that I wore weird-looking shoes. Bakit ba, e masaya ako. Anyone want a pair of Dalmatian-spotted Florsheims?