Dinner guests brighten future
As I sprinkle Parmesan onto the chicken cacciatore, and slip it back into the oven, it looks delicious. This is a good thing, because Emily, our good friend, Georgia’s granddaughter, is bringing Jason to dinner with her. Jason recently graduated with a degree in culinary arts, that is to say, he’s a master chef. If the dinner doesn’t go well, there’s no place to run, and no place to hide.
The doorbell rings. Georgia glides gracefully into the room. I relieve her of two bottles of red and white wine. Next, Emily crosses the threshold, looking much like a Bergdorf-Goodman model rather than a full-fledged ranch hand. Finally, “Chef Extraordinaire,” Jason gains entrance. Other than self-inflicted tremors, I’m confident we’ll have a very nice dinner party.
After everyone admires the gorgeous table Orllyene has set, I hear, “Can I do anything to help?” from Jason and Emily. These are hot blooded, eager young Americans, living out here in the wild west, so I say, “Sure, thanks. Jason, would you take the platter of chicken cacciatore out of the oven, and Emily, here’s the bowl of couscous, and the fried green tomatoes are on the stove.” Orllyene retrieves her beautiful, and absolutely delicious salad from the fridge.
We settle at the table, and I pop a question Jason’s way. “Jason, would it be unthinkable for me to ask you to serve the chicken?” And with gracious acquiescence, while smiling like Brad Pitt, he replies, “yes, I’d love to.”
The meal evolves into a banquet. The fried green tomatoes disappear Houdini-style. When I ask, “would anyone like seconds?” I have two takers. Jason cut and split three cords of wood for his mother, who lives in Bridgeport, this very day. Emily has spent the day rounding up cattle in the Bodie Hills. Intrigued by Emily’s decision to insinuate herself into the workings of the R.N. Fulstone Ranches, I ask how she spends her days. In rapid fire she speaks of inoculating cattle, breeding, calving, acreage under cultivation; the whole gamut of the ranching business. When I press Jason for culinary specifics, his saga of tri-tip broiling; from marinating to searing the meat, and the art of letting the meat rest, is pure James Bond. Unable to contain herself any longer, Emily reports proudly, “Jason can make a tri-tip taste like prime rib.” My admiration for each of these capable young people is well founded. Each is so well informed, motivated and optimistic. What a pleasure they are.
The frivolity of the evening never falters. Only the couscous is a tragedy. This is my first couscous attempt. It has the texture of hardening concrete, and the flavor of milk of magnesia. For dessert, the molasses cookies, and tapioca pudding are a redemption.
As the evening draws to a close, Orllyene’s words say it all. “We need to be around young people like you.” And she’s so right. We are the past, and they are the future, and the future looks very, very bright.
Ron Walker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.