I return home from Monte Carlo Deli with my bagful of delights: prosciutto, salami, cheese, fig spread, olives and artichoke hearts; also a few loaves of the mini rustica bread they run out of midway through each day.
Two weather-worn Adirondack chairs are permanent fixtures on our front lawn. So is a small plastic table. The wife found a $10 rocking chair at a yard sale some time ago. It never made it past the front porch. I pull that out on the lawn, along with a fold-up camping tray I keep handy for such occasions.
In hope and anticipation, I bust out camp chairs and the swing-bench that kills my back and squeaks annoyingly.
Dining room table? Living room couch? Perhaps. We'll see.
I open the wine, pour myself a grande and let it breathe as I place the assortment of antipasti on the assortment of plates and tables.
And then I wait.
It won't take long.
First to arrive is Scott the Southern Sophisticate, focused and ready. Besides a touch of gentility and Gatsbyesque charm becoming his roots, he brings with him the heaviest plate in the world laden with more enchanting edibles. Seriously, this plate is made of an atomic element not found on the periodic table.
Minutes later his wife, the Ohio Farm Girl, shows up, bubbly, cheery, glass in hand. That's good. I'm almost out of wine glasses and she's had the unfortunate condition of being in proximity to all my broken ones. Curious.
On cue, The Rockette and Goldenvoice arrive. Our token neighborhood “showbiz” folk, they bring more wine and merriment. We'd ask them to move to the Westside, but they're just so normal and friendly it makes you sick.
Our collective offspring, some of which I've never seen before, immediately run amok. We forfeit them the house, garage and backyard. Just leave us our front lawn in peace, and stay away from power tools. That's all we ask.
Soon the air is filled with the astringent, strangely satisfying blend of night-blooming jasmine, citronella candle and the banter that comes with time, survival and familiarity.