Monday, September 6, 2010

A Luncheon Date

Dear Diary, If I hadn't been there I would never have believed it!

Moments before noon a gentle knock on the door announced Hazel's arrival. Anne had dusted and polished until the dining area and lounge sparkled. Those gorgeous perfumed stocks in shades of purple, deep pink, and dark red arranged in a cut crystal vase created a glorious scene on the side table. Anne had contemplated placing them on the dining table; their perfume permeated the room and she felt that their perfume might detract from the luncheon. Cushions were plumped, ornaments readjusted to their best advantage, and I rubbed all wooden surfaces with furniture polish until the room was simply perfect.

Hazel is a charming woman; had I not known her from childhood days when she often arrived at school not wearing shoes as the family had suffered some form of economic crisis, I would have been completely overwhelmed with her graciousness. Conversation flowed. Anne offered sherry, but Hazel declined. I was pleased. We needed to keep our heads if this afternoon was to go the way we hoped.

Lunch was simple. A quiche Lorraine and a salad served with fresh bread rolls. Anne somehow found time earlier in the morning to bake a carrot cake that took pride of place in the centre of the table, walnuts decorating the cream cheese icing looking delectable.

Another knock at the door; Dear Diary, Anne played her role so well. She had threatened me with banishment back to Niece's if I dared laugh, or even let on this lunch had ulterior motives.

Anne hurried to the door not giving Richard time to waltz in as normal. Chatting to Hazel about the paths our lives had meandered since schooldays I could hear Anne welcoming Richard.

"Richard," she gushed, how lovely to see you."

No mention Dear Diary, about his presence being prearranged. I am positive Hazel had no clue his arrival was by invitation.

Anne, chatting to Richard in an animated manner entered the dining room. Very cunningly, I thought, she hastily introduced Richard and Hazel, stressing 'Hazel', and hurried out to the kitchen, to check on the food, she said, when I was well aware all the food had been prepared and ready for the past half hour!

Such a shame she escaped! Richard's face was a picture. His complexion changed from a shocked white, to an embarrassed red, as he stuttered and stammered his greeting. Hazel had never met Richard, as we suspected, and had no idea that he admired her. However conversation didn't flag as Hazel was indeed a woman of the world and knew how to make anyone at ease.

As the meal got underway Anne, so innocently, enquired from Hazel what time of year she had planned to hold her wedding. At that query poor Richard, and by now I was beginning to feel rather sad about his obvious distress, swung around to face Hazel.

"You are planning marriage?" Richard enquired.

"Oh yes Richard, I have a lovely man friend and plan settling down with him. Of course there has to be a hiatus for decencies sake you know."

Richard didn't know where to look. I was watching Anne who clearly was enjoying his embarrassment. But Dear Diary, I am not one to allow a joke to go too far, and offered a salve to him.

"Richard," I began, Hazel's marriage was in name only. She has had a male companion for many years. Now that Mr Hardcastle, Garfield, has passed away, they are free to marry."

Much to my relief Anne obviously decided the joke had gone far enough, and steered the conversation in other directions. As Hazel had no idea that Richard fancied her, and Richard had no idea I knew of those fancies. All in all, Dear Diary, the afternoon concluded with no ill feelings on anyone's part, though I must confess Anne and I had a giggle in the kitchen once Hazel and Richard had departed, both going their separate ways, and both declaring the lunch very tasty and pleasurable.

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