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August 14, 2015 | Nonfiction

A Version of Dinner (in which)

Maggie Nye

A Version of Dinner (in which) photo

In which we listen to ourselves being recounted in the mouth of the boyfriend

In which we find ourselves represented in ways we did not intend and in which we have all had too many glasses of wine and laugh in petty mocking bursts

In which, perhaps, grains of saliva-coated cornmeal arc over the horsdevours and stick to the rim of the boyfriend’s crystal water glass

In which we decide we don’t like his account and endeavor to re-enact the initial event for him, as audience participant

In which we place him at our table, behind a place-setting labeled “I am The Mother”

In which we tell him, for the sake of verisimilitude, You must eat very little, only push food around with the back of your fork

In which we massage his shoulders and tell him, You are very tense, you must relax, you take on the world’s burdens

In which he sighs as though to say, Yes, I feel it now, they are so heavy

In which the man behind the placemat labeled “I am The Father” makes a joke at “I am The Mother”’s expense In which we place a cracker on “I am The Mother”’s tongue

In which the cracker dissolves into collusive laughter

In which “I am The Mother”’s laugher is in no way salted with hurt

In which the girl sitting behind the place-setting labeled “I am The Daughter” does not look at the boyfriend and confuse him for her brother

In which “I am The Brother”’s place-setting is a giant smoldering hole in the table down which the waiter has repeatedly dropped the seared scallops

In which the mother, who, now that her place-setting is occupied by the boyfriend, sits at the place-setting that says “I am The Boyfriend” and utters the words, We love our little girl

In which the man, who may or may not be the father, but who certainly sits behind the place-setting labeled “I am The Father” glares at the mother whose place-setting says “I am The Boyfriend” and hisses, You are supposed to be the boyfriend

In which the giant smoldering hole says, Isn’t this fun?

In which the giant smoldering hole is a master of self-conscious disclosure

In which we order every dessert on the menu including the extra-secret hazelnut chocolate replica of our family photo, finished with himalayan sea salt which the server insists does not exist, but which we are certain does, in fact, exist, with enough persistence and smiling

In which our family ethos is firmly asserted

In which our family ethos is confirmed

image: Amanda Goldblatt


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