"...Tandoori chicken and foie gras, and lots of jazz, and he adored the Savoy, but shad roe, the colors were gorgeous, aloe, shell, citrus, Morgan Stanley..."
I clasp my hands back where they were, pressing even tighter. Once again hunger overtakes me and so humming loudly to myself I reach again for the spoon, but it's hopeless: Evelyn's voice is at a particular pitch that cannot be ignored.
"Gregory's graduating from Saint Paul soon and will be attending Columbia in September," Evelyn is saying, carefully blowing on her pudding, which, by the way, is served cold. "And I've got to get him a graduation present and I'm at a total loss. Suggestions, hon?"
"A poster from Les Miserables?" I sigh, only half joldng.
"Per fect," she says, blowing on the pudding again, then after a sip of Cristal she makes a face.
"Yes, dear?" I ask, spitting a pumpkin seed that arches through.the air before gracefully hitting the dead center of the ashtray instead of Evelyn's dress, my original target. "Hmmm?"
"We need more cassis," she says. "Will you get our waitress?"
"Of course we do," I say good-naturedly and, still smiling, "I have no idea who Gregory is. You do know that, right?"
Evelyn puts her spoon down delicately next to the plate of pudding and looks into my eyes. "Mr. Bateman, I really like you. I adore your sense of humor." She gives my hand a soft squeeze and laughs, actually says, "Ha-ha-ha...," but she's serious, not joking. Evelyn really is paying me a compliment. She does admire my sense of humor. Our appetizers are removed and at the same time our entrees arrive, so Evelyn has to take her hand off mine to make room for the plates. She ordered quail stuffed into blue corn tortillas garnished with oysters in potato skins. I have the free-range rabbit with Oregon morels and herbed french fries.
"...He went to Deerfield then Harvard. She went to Hotchkiss then Radcliffe..."
Evelyn is talking but I'm not listening. Her dialogue overlaps her own dialogue. Her mouth is moving but I'm not hearing anything and I can't listen, I can't really concentrate, since my rabbit has been cut to look... just... like... a... star! Shoestring french fries surround it and chunky red salsa has been smeared across the top of the plate - which is white and porcelain and two feet wide - to give the appearance of a sunset but it looks like one big gunshot wound to me and shaking my head slowly in disbelief I press a finger into the meat, leaving the indentation of one finger, then another, and then I look for a napkin, not my own, to wipe my hand with. Evelyn hasn't broken her monologue - she talks and chews exquisitely - and smiling seductively at her I reach under the table and grab her thigh, wiping my hand off, and still talking she smiles naughtily at me and dips more champagne. I keep studying her face, bored by how beautiful it is, flawless really, and I think to myself how strange it is that Evelyn has pulled me through so much; how she's always been there when I needed her most. I look back at the plate, thoroughly unhungry, pick up my fork, study the plate hard for a minute or two, whimper to myself before sighing and putting the fork down. I pick up my champagne glass instead.
"...Groton, Lawrenceville, Milton, Exeter, Kent, Saint Paul's, Hotchkiss, Andover, Milton, Choate... oops, already said Milton..."
"If I'm not eating this tonight, and I'm not, I want some cocaine," I announce. But I haven't interrupted Evelyn - she's unstoppable, a machine - and she continues talking.
"Jayne Simpson's wedding was so beautiful," she sighs. "And the reception afterwards was wild. Club Chernoble, covered by Page Six. Billy covered it. WWD did a layout."
"I heard there was a two-drink minimum," I say warily, signaling for a nearby busboy to remove my plate.
"Weddings are so romantic. She had a diamond engagement ring. You know, Patrick, I won't settle for less," she says coyly. "It has to be diamond." Her eyes glaze over and she tries to recount the wedding in mind-numbing detail. "It was a sitdown dinner for five hundred... no, excuse me, seven hundred and fifty, followed by a sixteen-foot tiered Ben and Jerry's ice cream cake. The gown was by Ralph and it was white lace and low-cut and sleeveless. It was darling. Oh Patrick, what would you wear?" she sighs.
"I would demand to wear Ray-Ban sunglasses. Expensive Ray-Bans," I say carefully. "In fact I would demand that everyone would have to wear Ray-Ban sunglasses."
"I'd want, a zydeco band, Patrick. That's what I'd want. A zydeco band," she gushes breathlessly. "Or mariachi. Or reggae. Something ethnic to shock Daddy. Oh I can't decide."