Drying the dinner dishes at a furious pace, Max clattered them onto a stack then threw the dishtowel on top. Arms akimbo, he huffed. “Every time I think about how Baron blocked me from that sixth Golden Radish Award, I burn!”
“Take it easy,” I said. “At the state you’re in, we won’t have a dish left.”
Earlier at dinner, Max had been persistent in talking about the brunch he promised our challenging neighbors, Regina and Baron. He started planning it after our disastrous visit to their house to welcome them to the neighborhood with my Mexican chicken casserole.
I was singed, too, remembering Regina’s flippant attitude toward the casserole and her imperious manner. Secretly, I was on Max’s side and wanted to show them up, too.
Finishing the dishes, Max pulled out a chair and sat at the work island pencil and notepad at hand. He started writing “We’ll start with champagne – a good one! But not expensive.”
Max had been persistent in talking about the brunch he promised our challenging neighbors, Regina and Baron.
I joined him at the island and shook my head. “These are my rules: no champagne, no duck, no brie. Those are Regina’s favorites. I vote Ritz crackers topped with a squirt of Cheez Whiz.”
Max looked at me over his reading glasses. “I know the perfect dish: Apples Sylvia! Just the right balance between a tart and a quiche – apples, finely sliced onions, hickory smoked bacon, slivers of gouda, a medley of caramelized chopped nuts on a butter crust. Max tapped his lip with the pencil. “It was always a show stopper whenever we served it.” His mouth twisted into a devilish grin. “We’ll partner that with my Special Margaritas!’
“Max – no!” I smacked my palm down on the counter. “You can’t do that!”
He chuckled. “Worked wonders on my sister Myrna.”
I remembered when Myrna, who Max calls “Princess Rain on My Parade,” was invited to Cutlass and Bobo’s house and Max volunteered to make his Special Margaritas. She wound up singing torch songs on top of their piano. In the morning, when she had to catch a plane back home, she inched her way through the airport clutching the walls wearing two mismatched animal print flats.
I smirked. “It might not be such a bad idea after all.”
“That was practice, my dear Sylvia,” he said, tossing the pencil down. This time I’ll master the Special Margarita!”
Passing him on my way to the bedroom, I kissed him on the cheek. “Max, you are the Devil incarnate!”
“Flatterer!” he said, over his shoulder.
When I was alone, I unpinned the note attached to my bra with Aunt Daisy’s wise advice to me from her column.
“Sounds like your neighbors are not ridin’ high in the saddle if they need to put you down. If they live in a world of labels, they don’t think much of themselves.
Bide your time. Whittle at it little by little. The less you worry, the easier the answers will come.”
What harm could a few of Max’s friendly, neighborly Special Margaritas do?
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.