To say that I was dreading the dinner party was the understatement of the century. Pinpointing the source of my dread was another manner in and of itself. We had been friends for well over a decade by now, and there was no reason for me to dread being around these people. They all cooked like they were on "Chopped Champions", and in that circle, there is never a lack of wine and signature cocktails. I didn't even mind that every single dinner party we did had a theme; Roman, Greek, Tuscan, French Riviera, Fiesta... we had done them all. And along the way, my best friend, the ringleader of the group, and her husband would turn the whole affair into an "old-fashioned slideshow viewing party".
Oooh, there it was. The source of my dread. The dumb slideshow. That was easier to figure out than I had thought.
On their trips, without fail, Shelly would take picture after picture after picture. When they got home, her husband Rich would compile every single picture, the awful ones included, into a 3 hour long power-point presentation complete with a 5 minute intermission and music "appropriate" to the pictures of them standing in front of places that they only half remember, or of "hilarious" moments that still crack them up, but they are unable to explain to anyone else. It was sheer torture sitting through them once every six months or so, when Shelly would get incurable wanderlust, and require that Rich sweep her off her feet and send them someplace "romantic and fun and relaxing". Her words, not mine. Shelly knows what she wants in life, and doesn't hesitate to spell it out for people. It's the thing that I love most about her.
I looked down at the shiny piece of technology that was currently trying to shake my hand away from the rest of my body. Why cellphone providers thought their "vibrate" function needed to be as powerful as to permanently sever ones appendages, I will never understand.
"Hey Claire, it's Shelly."
"What's going on, Shelly?"
"It's about the dinner party tonight."
"Are you guys cancelling?"
"Well, no, not exactly. It's just... we need a favor..."
Famous last words. As soon as I heard them, I should have shut that whole conversation down. Then again, this was my best friend and her husband. Saying no to them was almost as bad as having to tell your sweet elderly grandmother that you were living in sin. It just wasn't something you did... the telling part, that is. You just pretended to Granny that you two maintained separate residences. Almost as if the words came from someone else entirely, I hear myself ask, "What is it that you need?"
"Well, you see, this morning our main line clogged, and our house filled with... that's not important. Our house is disgusting right now, and Rich really doesn't want to reschedule. We were hoping we could move everything to your house???"
"Shelly, I'm not sure that's such a good idea. My house isn't exactly clean right now, and I'm not sure it could really fit all 12 of us comfortably."
"Oh, come on, Claire. We're all friends, and have been for a long time. Nobody is going to judge you, they are just going to be so glad that we can still have the party."
No they wouldn't. They hated the slideshows as much as I did. However, we all were dead set on having the favorite dish of the party every time we got together, or the favorite signature cocktail. If you had to suffer through 3 hours of torture, you should at least do it with good food and drink in your belly. "Dave really wouldn't like it."
"Since when do you let Dave dictate what you can and can't do? For Pete's sake, the two of you are married... we all know that means that you tell him what's happening, and he goes along with it. Just tell him that I'll be over at 5:15 to help you clean and set up."
"Okay, thank you so much, Claire! I owe you one. See you in a few hours!" And just like that, it had been determined: Dave and I were now hosting the slideshow party from Hades. The very thought made me feel dirty and uncomfortable enough to want to take a shower. With a sigh, I looked down at the project I had been working on for my boss, and put it back in my inbox. I guess I was taking a personal day today...