Pork roasted in cheap Budweiser and black-eyed peas.
Spinach noodles laden with heavy cream, garlic and salt.
Red wine flowing freely.
Miles Davis crooning from the record player.
Dozens of dishes left half empty to sit; eaters distracted by conversation, eye contact, an occasional cigarette.
Winston Churchill, the 3-legged black cat, making his way from lap to lap.
Children bored with grownup conversation finding other, possibly naughty, things to do.
Yard dogs barking at the occasional passersby.
8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, the hours whizzing by.
The dishes still sit but the instruments come into view.
Singing, dancing, laughing, playing.
Warmth and love flow into the wee hours of the humid summer night.
Critters appear, dismayed by the intrusion upon their nightly feasting.
But not at my house.
Where the counters are all wiped clean.
The lights are off, everyone in their beds, bellies full from eating every last bite on their plates.
Souls empty; no music, no laughter, no love.
At my house we ate in silence, avoiding the wrath of our matron, obediently cleaning up the moment the last tasteless morsel went into our mouths.
Oh, to be free and loose and safe in the lack of control of a Loving Family Dinner.