No one came to Soup Day today. Sort of.
For those who don’t know, every other week a group of us get together at Barbetta’s house and she feeds us soup for lunch. In the five or so years we’ve done this, I have never missed a single Soup Day.
And today was no exception. I was there, as usual.
But no one else was.
Well, Sandy showed up for a few minutes, inhaled some soup, cut my bangs, and left.
But really, it was just me and Barbetta.
Now, if you didn’t know any better, you might think that only two people at Soup Day would cut things short because we’d run out of things to talk about.
But you would be wrong.
When Barbetta and I are alone together, we talk non-stop. For hours upon hours. And it’s only with great reluctance that we end the conversation and part ways.
Barbetta’s husband, Jeff, knows this and uses it to his advantage. Remember Jeff? He wrote the story about Dusty Lizard selling secrets to the Chinese government at Li’s Buffet. Here are the links to the three part story: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Barbetta turned 40 last year and she wanted a party. Barbetta loves throwing parties and is always looking for excuses to do so. As soon as she turned 39 she announced to Jeff. “I want a surprise party when I turn 40.” And every few weeks, she would remind Jeff, “Don’t forget my surprise 40th birthday party.”
And so Jeff quietly started planning the surprise party.
It worked, too. You’d think she’d have caught on to when the party was, being that she knew it had to be coming right around her birthday, but she didn’t. In fact, the night before the party, she actually cried on the shoulder of another Soup Day member saying that Jeff had apparently forgotten to plan her party.
But he hadn’t forgotten, and the party was on its way.
What was my role in this? My role was to stall her before the party began so that all the guests could arrive at her house before she got home, and yell “Surprise!” when she walked in the door.
But Jeff was a little disappointed to realize that if I was going to stall her, it would have to be for a full hour and 15 minutes. The plan was for her to pick up her son from my house, who was visiting with my son, and that’s when I’d stall her. But the timing was a little messed up. And she would be at my house a full hour and 15 minutes before she needed to be.
So, Jeff told Darling Husband and me, “Well, stall her as long as you can, but it’s ok if she gets home before the guests. At least she’ll be able to freshen up before they arrive.”
But I was confident I could do it. Yes, Barbetta may have liked to freshen up, but she also wanted a Surprise Party. And what’s a surprise party without someone scaring your hair grey by jumping out from behind your couch yelling, “Surprise!”?
So, I made plans. First, we deliberately hid her son’s shoe. That way, when she arrived we’d have to “find it.” I figured that could go on for 15 minutes, if I distracted her with conversation, before she’d say, “Oh, forget the shoe. Give it to us later when you find it.”
That would leave only an hour. I could ramble on about stuff for another 15 minutes, minimum, after the shoe was found, and she wouldn’t even realize the time had gone by. My plan was to push that 15 minutes of rambling as loooong as possible, and just when she was realizing, “Oh, I have to get home,” I would pull out my secret weapon.
More shoes. New shoes. (Red shoes, blue shoes.)
Barbetta’s great weakness is shoes. She has magic feet. She can walk into any store and buy any size 6 pair of shoes and it will fit her foot without pinching or falling off. Any pair at all. And because it’s so easy for her to find shoes, she likes to find lots and lots of them. It’s not easy for me to find shoes that fit right, so I don’t like to buy a lot of them, and don’t have any particular fascination with them.
But I had just bought a pair of new shoes, and Barbetta loves to look at people’s new shoes. So, my secret plan was to say, “Wait! Before you go, take a look at my new shoes!” And when she was ooo-ing and aah-ing over them, I’d say, “I wish I knew exactly what to wear with them. Wait! While you’re here, let me try on a few outfits and you look at them with the shoes and tell me if they look ok!”
She wouldn’t have been able to resist! Someone asking for shoe fashion advice? That’s her specialty. No way would she be able to leave.
And then, I would take my sweet time trying on a bunch of outfits until the full hour and 15 minutes had gone by. She would leave, the guests (all except me, who’d be behind her on the road) would yell, “Surprise!”, her hair would turn grey, and everyone would be happy.
But poor Darling Husband didn’t understand. He didn’t understand that Barbetta and I can go for a solid 4 hours (as we did today) talking non-stop and still feel that we’d barely even scratched the surface of the conversation.
So, Barbetta arrived to pick up her son and we looked for his shoe. (15 minutes.) We jabbered for a few more minutes (10 minutes.) I, very suave and off-the-cuff, said, “Why don’t you sit down for a moment?” Once she was sitting, it would be harder to leave. We talked some more (15 minutes).
And here’s where poor Darling Husband didn’t know any better. Because Barbetta sort of acted like she was going to stand up. But every time she did, I’d bring up a new topic of conversation that I knew she couldn’t resist, and she’d settle back down. I knew she didn’t want to go, but she was afraid she was infringing on my time. But Darling Husband didn’t know that.
So 45 minutes into my hour and 15 minute stall, he said, “Well, I’m sure Barbetta wants to go home now.”
Which she, obviously, interpreted as, “Barbetta! Get out of our house! Why are you hanging around? I’d like some time alone with my family, since we watched your kid all day.”
I tried to recover from his gaffe and said, “No, no! Stay! We were having such a nice chat!” But she didn’t want to upset Darling Husband, because he so obviously wanted her gone, so she left.
I gave Darling Husband a ????? look, growled at him, and we got dressed to get to her party, where Barbetta, all freshened up, greeted her guests at the door.
Picture of the day:
At one point during our 4 and a half hour visit today, Barbetta got up to use the bathroom, and I took the chance to take a quick picture of me sitting alone at the Soup Day table. I guess the picture could have been better, but Barbetta came back and, strangely enough, I wanted to talk to Barbetta more than I wanted to fix the picture.
Oh! And we went to Li’s Buffet today. I used to post a picture on Facebook every time we’d go to Li’s Buffet. This would drum up a lot of business for Li’s, because people were so intrigued by the fact that I posted a picture a week (or twice a week, or even thrice a week) of the same restaurant. People started going to Li’s, just to see what the fuss was about, and also to see if they’d catch us there. Like a tourist attraction. Or the Loch Ness Monster.
But I haven’t posted pictures from Li’s in a while, and I haven’t seen anyone I know at Li’s lately, so I’m starting up my Li’s pictures again:
In the above shot Jin is at the cash register behind me. There are three guys sitting at a table speaking what sounds like French. They were fascinated with us because later Jin came to our table and started telling us little puzzles for us to figure out. (6 tigers have to cross a river in a boat. Only two tigers in a boat at a time. A tiger must always be in the boat for the return trip. But if you leave some tigers alone together they eat each other. How do you get all 6 tigers across the river without some of the tigers eating the others?)
The French guys kept staring. Probably wishing they had puzzles to do, too.
Right before we left, there was a lovely patch of sunlight that fell right across Darling Husband’s face, so I practiced a window-light shot.