As if I were in a novel

We were at a 65th birthday last night. It was a wonderful celebration held in a Jugendstil villa right in the middle of town. There were many famous and (self-)important guests invited, and we began the party in the garden. Many men were in white linens, the women in colorful, summer dresses. We sipped champagne until the first speeches were held.

Our places were arranged with care, couples were split up and the tables had young and old, different careers together, but careful to have at least two people speaking the same language at the same table. The tables were named after people that the birthday boy had written papers about at some time during his career. I sat at the Olaus Rudbeck table in a high-ceilinged room with beautiful stucco and a bay window. We ate excellent food and drank very good wine and engaged in witty, intellectual conversation.

I suddenly had the feeling of being a character in a Thomas Mann novel. And of course, I was expecting that we would be hearing lots of gossip or have some nicely scandalous happenings. Not much of that - the children (both with degrees, one a doctorate) gave very funny speeches, as well as the older brother and a best pal.

Then a former national politician (who had given his most recent book as a present, how gauche) stood up to give an unscheduled speech. He of course referred to his own position and tried to be extremely witty, I found him extremely tiresome.

But that was pretty much it for scandals, unless you count the young woman accompanying the elder brother. She was from the US, working on her doctorate, and in general quite well behaved. I was in line behind her when she was pouring coffee and spilled some on the saucer. She exclaimed "Oh dear!" and grabbed a white damask napkin to soak up the liquid. Damask! Coffee stains won't come out of that! A few minutes later we were standing near the bowl of strawberries, damp with water. She ate a few, and then *wiped her hands* on the damask table cloth. How uncouth!

The food was wonderful, and the conversation interesting - really a very nice evening. But I'm afraid that other than in this blog, there will not be a novel recording the evening. How times have changed...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this!