Saturday, November 11, 2006

No Room...No Room!

I was invited to dinner with family friends who were visiting New York City. I was to meet them at an Italian restaurant in the Village. When I arrived, expecting to see only two people seated at a small table, I was shown to a large one where seven were sitting and polishing off a second bottle of wine.

FAMILY FRIENDS: Ah! Alice! Sit, sit, sit!

I managed to squeeze into a chair at the end of the long table. One of the men at the table looked at me and asked, Who are you? It's a good thing we weren't at a hookah bar, that's all I'm saying.

FAMILY FRIENDS: Everyone! This is...Alice. Alice, this is...everyone!
ALICE: Well, this does make it easier to remember your names.
EVERYONE: Hello! How are you! Happy to meet you!

They spoke as one and I was marvelling at my first encounter with synchronized speech. Then they returned to the conversation I had interrupted. Now, they spoke one at a time. It concerned losing bone mass as one ages. Well, I've heard worse dinner conversations.

FAMILY FRIEND #1: Well, I know that I have shrunk at least two inches in height since I was a teenager.
FAMILY FRIEND #2: You always say that! But I think you're wrong.
FAMILY FRIEND #1: No, I'm not! I'm not as tall as I was. You can't tell me it's not true.
FAMILY FRIEND #2: It isn't! You're just walking humped over like some old thing. You're not old yet, so stand up straight, for fuck's sake!

The women at the table agreed with Family Friend #1. They said they also have noticed they aren't as tall as they once were. The men scoffed and laughed at their wives. I had nothing to say on the matter because I was still trying to figure out who these people were, and I'm still the height I was...forever. The battle raged on.

FAMILY FRIEND #1: And just think, in twenty years, I'll probably shrink even more.
FAMILY FRIEND #2: Yeah. It's called decomposing!

One of the men at the table looked at me and saw that I wasn't drinking.

MAN: Do you want more wine?
ALICE: More? Well, I haven't had any yet.

He seemed to lose interest in me then and turned back to the others and added his two cents to the osteo-centric conversation.

I ordered lamb chops, as did the man who offered me the non-existent wine. Everyone else ordered osso bucco. Yeah. They did.

MAN: What! We both ordered the same dish? Why, we have a bond!
ALICE: Er...o.k.
FAMILY FRIEND #1: See? I knew that you two would get along!

The dinner lasted two hours, and at one point I felt that Family Friend #2 might suddenly announce, Clean glass, clean glass, move one seat down! Yup. It was that kind of night.

And, I never did get any wine.

'I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in an offended tone, 'so I can't take more.'
"'You mean you ca'n't take less,' said the Hatter, 'it's very easy to take more than nothing.'

-- Alice in Wonderland