You haven’t really moved in to a place until you’ve hosted a dinner party. That thought lingered in Franny’s subconscious. She couldn’t explain why – her own parents had not been given to throwing parties of any kind, seeing the world as a fairly dangerous place that was best left outside the securely locked and bolted doors to one’s home. And as an adult – am I really an adult yet, Franny pondered, whatever that is – Franny’s circle of friends in the city tended to meet over coffee or brunch at a restaurant, or share drinks in one of the many bars meant for busy professionals who had no time or inclination to cook.
Yet there it was, emerging from perhaps a collective unconscious, as Jung had written about, the notion that securing herself in her place required hosting a dinner party. But other than Leo, Franny could think of virtually no one to invite. Maybe that’s it, she wondered. When you have an actual guest list, it’s a sign you’ve made yourself at home.
Franny surveyed the two upper cabinets that served as her pantry in the tiny kitchen. Amazing, how little you need to start life over. Leaving her husband of ten years in the house they’d shared, Franny had packed only her clothes, half the bedding, the red and white dishes she’d been given by her mother, and her books and papers. Oh, and the giant, expensive, multi-functional pasta pot with steamer and strainer that she and her ex-husband had talked themselves into buying from a far too fancy kitchen store for far more money than they could spare, and then had stashed in a lower cabinet and ignored. The stainless steel pot was pristine, and Franny could hardly wait to stain it with use.
That was another reason to throw a dinner party – she could use that pot. Perhaps make a multi-level meal of pasta and steamed vegetables, well-seasoned, and doused in a delicious sauce. Franny felt that she needed delicious sauces and lots of seasoning on her food. Bland was over for her.
What about her neighbor, Alison? Franny had not encountered the young woman since helping her gain entry to her apartment with one of Franny’s few butter knives. The butter knife had disappeared into Alison’s apartment along with Alison. Perhaps if she invited the young woman over for dinner, the butter knife would come back.
But I’d also have to invite the boyfriend, Franny thought, the one who Alison was too embarrassed to call for help.
She closed the cupboard doors and set about dressing for the cold. A walk. I’ll take a walk, and I won’t come back until I’ve thought of eight people to invite for dinner. Okay, six, Franny determined as she put on her snow boots. By the time she was two blocks away, Franny reduced the size of her required list to four.
Leo, Alison, Alison’s grumpy boyfriend, and one other person. Franny thought about the apartment manager. She’d been nice enough, but Franny knew little about her. Would she also have a boyfriend who needed to be included? And would he also be grumpy? Franny did not think she could tolerate two grumpy boyfriends at her very first dinner party.
Then a thought struck her as a bolt from the blue. Maybe Leo could bring a guest. Leo knew everyone in town, and, for all Franny knew, he might have a girlfriend. That’s it! Franny pounded one mittened fist into the other mittened palm. She dug her mobile phone out of the inner pocket of her parka, stripped off one mitten, and dialed Leo’s number.