I awoke this morning with an unmistakeable sense of regret. The nostalgic and all too recognizable consciousness was uncomfortably similar to the instant remorse I used to feel upon reviving from a late night of heavy drinking. So much for leaving it all in the past! Those indelible demons will no doubt linger for years to come!
The despondency was however quickly expunged when I weighed myself on our mockingly named “Thinner®” digital bathroom scale and discovered that last evening’s sumptuously rich meal with Monsieur le docteur in the Village of Ashton had apparently added a negligible one-half pound to the diminution we have so far accomplished on our newly subscribed (mainly) vegetarian diet. What relief! Advancement in these dietary matters is too hard-won to be dismissive of even a temporary fall-back or forgivable capitulation. Yet the happy avoidance of anything but a slight stigma has exponentially heightened the pleasure of the lavish feast. We were initially knocked aback by a velvety caviar mousse-like cream smeared copiously on crusty French bread. For hors d’oeuvres we were further distracted by slices of a variety of hot, barbecued sausage, freshly cooked beets with goat’s milk cheese, a rich British Columbia brie, extraordinary feta cheese and a fine South Africa olive oil for dipping. When we repaired to the dining room table our plat principal was a delicate pasta dish infused with homemade pesto, garden garlic scapes and tiny Danish shrimp. After all this provender we nonetheless acceded to a mixed berry pie from a local farmer’s market. Meanwhile outside the stone house the wind rose and fell across the meadow ushering in dry, cooler air. Findlay, the black labrador pup, didn’t stir under the table.
Our rambling conversation throughout the evening was diffuse and far-ranging. There were just the three of us, a communication to which I have become accustomed when our host’s partner is absent for one reason or another. When he initially called to arrange the convention, he heralded it as a “Boys’ Night”. We embraced the singularity of the venture by touching upon sensitive topics which do not normally qualify for admission at larger social gatherings, things like how to raise children, the mystical – and sometimes fictional – sense of belonging to a community, the possibility of divergence in a relationship, the hopes for the future and the precariousness of it all. Our relationship spans at least thirty years and we have known our host’s children since birth. We too have shared the account of their progress and the metaphysical distraction of the younger generation.
Intermittent gatherings such as this are now infrequent. Our circle of friends has narrowed considerably, an amortization fuelled by retirement and the cultivation of curmudgeonly habits and highly personalized preoccupations. As a result I am temporarily broadsided by such hedonism and it requires absorption to regain my balance in what has increasingly become an uncomplicated and admittedly predictable sphere. Small wonder that an outing such as this is so enticing and that we embrace it with earnest abandon!