One of my recurring daydreams is about the perfect dinner party. I think it was inspired by old photos of artists, philosophers, writers and poets sitting around looking pensive, or laughing, or locked in deep conversation. They are all smoking, opened bottles of wine are scattered around. They all wear hats. Being a hopeless-romantic for a bygone era of bohemia I contrived to make my indie dinner-party daydream a reality.
I had invited all of my friends, so I set the table for four. In terms of theme, I went for an eclectic, shabby-chic arrangement. I removed the dining table chairs and replaced them with an inflatable armchair, a massage chair that my neighbor had thrown out, a beanbag and a bar stool. The table was laid variously with jars for drinks, a set of chopsticks; a plastic spork, some serving utensils and one knife and fork. I removed the cork from a bottle of wine and replaced it with a candle.
The meal was to consist entirely of cheese. That way we could begin at the deeper ‘end-of-the-night’ conversation and skip the awkward warm up conversation that usually takes place over entrée and the first half of main course.
I asked my guests to wear their most bohemian outfits. Mine consisted of a full length, floral patterned, sundress and a beret. I had told the guests to come at 9pm, that way we could get to the kooky late night antics quicker. They arrived at 9:10, “about fucking ti –,” my face fell a little, they were all wearing almost identical flannel.
“Wait, why are you dressed like that? Didn’t I say bohemian?”
“C’mon Rupert this is bohemian…” my friend said.
“No, Ed, this is bohemian,” I said doing a twirl in my dress.
“Can we come in? Please! It’s 9pm we are hungry and it is cold,” Sarah asked.
We filed down to the dining table, “Please everybody take your seats, we will dance and sing shortly,” My friends did their best to make themselves comfortable in the random furniture, “No not the blow up chair, Merata, that’s mine, you can have the massage chair,” I pointed at the worn out massage chair.
I brought out the cheese and wine, “Voila!” I said placing it in front of my guests, “dinner is served.”
“Is that it?” Ed asked looking at the cheese patter, “mate we’re hungry.”
Sarah picked up the wine and examined the label, “Rupert, what is this?”
“It’s Ukranian wine, apparently it’s what Ukrainian artists drink.”
“Why is there a skull and crossbones on the label?” She unscrewed the cap, sniffed it and recoiled.
“Oh god, it smells like fish-oil, why does it smell like fish-oil?” she rubbed her nose.
I had a whiff and flinched, “Look I bought like a dozen of these, let’s just drink it with Pepsi or something.” I went and got a few bottles from the fridge, filling each jar with a mixture of Ukranian wine and Pepsi.
“There is wine in here,” said Ed lifting the wine bottle candle.
“Put that down,” I ordered, “that’s the candle.”
Aiming my iPhone at them I said, “Okay, before we begin. I want to get a photo for instagram.” I noticed Merata was pitching from side to side in her massage seat.
“What’s wrong, Merata?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I think the massager in this chair is broken it won’t stop,” she arched her back and grimaced, “it really hurts.”
“Okay, just take the inflatable chair,” I told her. “Okay, now everyone get ready for the photo.”
They smiled at the camera, “no don’t smile, just look natural.”
“What is natural?” asked Sarah.
“I don’t know like an artist would look: stern, or pensive, or something.”
They did their best and I snapped a depressing picture.
We sat around eating the cheese as best we could with the utensils I had provided. Sarah tried to pick up some brie with her flimsy spork accidentally snapping it, Ed made an effort at the crumbly cheddar with his chopsticks but it kept disintegrating, Merata’s serving spoon proved unable to slice the blue cheese, I was having a great time with my knife and fork.
I took a sip of my fish-wine-pepsi and winced, “God that’s so disgusting,” I muttered before turning to the group, “So guys, what do you think of Futurist art?”
“What?” asked Merata who had given up with the serving spoon and was now just eating with her hands.
“You know Futurist art,” truth be told I didn’t know what it was either, “it’s art, about the Future… I think.”
Sarah cut over me, “have you guys seen the latest 30 Rock?” The other two said they had and they began talking about it.
I tried to speak over them, “I recently read of Das Kapital, it really made me think,” I began trying to recite a quote from memory but jumbled all the words up. In any case the other three weren’t paying attention. I sat there in my dress and beret wondering why my bohemian evening did not resemble my daydream.
The night went on like this. The cheese was eaten by hand and the jars of wine sat undrunk. My attempt to get everybody to pose naked for a Polaroid photo failed and nobody paid attention to my modern-interpretative performance of Chekhov’s The Seagull. My final effort to make the bohemian night spark was a synthesizer performance. I played the lowest note, bluuuuuuuuuuuugh, then let out a high pitched wail then I played a higher note, ziiiiiiiiiiiii then I groaned. I was arbitrarily hammering away at keys and blurting out sounds, when the light suddenly switched on.
“Rupert, sweetie, it’s 11pm and your father and I want to go to sleep now, maybe it’s time to say goodnight to your friends,” my mother said, she nodded at my friends.
“No mum, we are having a bohemian night of revelry,” I motioned at my friends. Sarah had fallen asleep on the beanbag and Ed and Merata sat watching us in silence.
“It’s okay, Rupert, we should get going,” said Merata. Ed shook Sarah awake, they all got up and made their way to the door. I stood there in my sundress and beret, I begged them not to tell anybody that I still live with my parents.
“Don’t worry, Rupert,” said Ed patting me on the shoulder, “everyone already knows.”