On Friday night, we went to a ‘dinner in white’ at a nearby chateau. It was a jolly affair, at an ancient chateau entirely surrounded by a moat.
We set up our table, alongside the others. We gathered for drinks. We saw old friends. And then we prepared for dinner.
Why “white?” The dinner marks the occasion of the Assumption of the Virgin. It’s held each year in this rural area of France. Everyone brings a full dinner service – table, chairs, candles, etc. etc. Then, after setting up outside, under the stars…there’s a twist. Couples switch around so that your editor ends up having dinner with a woman to whom he is not married.
Having dinner with someone else’s wife can be a delight. At least, you have nothing to argue about. But how much of a delight it is depends entirely – or perhaps mostly – on chance.
In our case, we were terribly lucky. In front of us was a charming woman who turned out to be a relative of many people we already knew. So we kept up a lively conversation about cousins, uncles, aunts…family tragedies…and upcoming marriages. On our right, was a cute woman with a bright smile and a friendly manner. On our left, was another charming woman with a shrewd, fast wit.
Time passed quickly. We crossed swords with the woman on our left – over education policies. We chatted with the woman in front of us – about family, the weather, local trends, food and whatever. We flirted with the woman on our right:
“Do you come to these dinners often?” we asked.
“About as often as you do,” came the reply, “once a year.”
“Well, the dinners suit you. You look very nice in white.”
“Thanks…but I really don’t have any choice. It’s a ‘dinner in white,’ after all. If I had a choice, I’d wear black.”
“Why…because you have a black, cruel heart? Or is it because you are in a sad mood? I hope not. And if so, perhaps I can cheer you up by telling you joke. How many Belgians does it take to change a lightbulb?”
“I’ve heard that one.”
“Then why does the guy from Belgium go to sleep with one full glass of water next to his bed and one empty glass?”
“I don’t know…why?”
“Because he never knows if he’ll be thirsty or not when he wakes up in the night.”
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