Other than a mutual hatred of the cold that takes us to Mexico every winter, what Jim and I share is a love of having dinner parties. Jim denies it, but he first fell in love with me at his own dinner party. How did I get there? Well he was dating my best friend, Elektra, or trying to, as we were all part of a Sunday night dance crowd at The Yale, infamous Blues Bar in Vancouver. I even told him, they made a cute couple on the dance floor, but I didn’t know him well. One night, after sharing a laugh together he asked Elektra if she knew me well, and she said I had been her best friend for 18 years. “Invite her to my dinner party,” he said.
At the party, there was increasingly noticeable attention paid to me, and less to Elektra. Not that it worried me a lot as Elektra had already told me that there was no sparks there for her, but it was a little embarrassing. I was not looking for something, I was just enjoying being at a dinner party that wasn’t my own for a change. But when I made a comment that indicated that I not only knew the artist Jim had on the stereo, B.B. King, but I knew the name of B.B. King’s guitar, Lucille, he started to fall heavy for me, and asked me out right then and there in front of all his friends. His friends, by the way, I had liked so much I had already invited them to dinner at my house in three weeks time, so it was kind of hard to say an outright no. The whole story of the final pairing of us is longer, but here it can be said that a mutual love of dinner parties was a launch pad, and continues to be a main stay in our life together.
Fast forward seven years and we are in our beloved town in Mexico for another winter and we want to have a dinner party. We want to introduce two American couples together that we know and love but they don’t know each other…yet. Huff and Eileen, former Californians, and Jimmy and Juanita, living between Texas and Mexico are all great people, but I am curious to see if they are going to hit it off, because you never know. In particular, I am concerned because Jimmy is a expert level surfer but, Huff is a jet ski expert. I don’t know enough about the battle over the surf, but I believe surfers and jetskiers are not always compatible. Am I setting up two species that don’t belong together? Like the faux pas of asking a very right-wing Republican to dine with very left-wing Democrat, but instead of political differences, am I setting up a surf turf war at the dinner table? I know that these are things Jim never considers or stresses over, so I take a page from his book and leave it alone.
The party starts with some beverages at the pool and gets lively quickly. Not only do these two couples get along but the stories and laughs are flying. Jim and I are not introverts at all, yet for the first time I felt like we were being polite Canadians and could barely get a word in edgewise to these gregarious Americans. Then the subjects of jet skiing comes ont he table, I look carefully at Jimmy, who I’ve known a little longer to see if he is trying to mask any disgust… Texans do play poker right?
Well, did I call that concern wrong, pretty soon it is out in the open that we have a jet skier with a surfer and they start to talk about the love of the waves that they have in common. Now, in addition to being a surfer Jimmy is a business owner in Texas and Mexico, and suddenly I see a side of this man who is in great shape in his 50s partly due to his avid surfing, in a whole new light. I had never heard him talk surfer dude talk before, suddenly if I had a dollar for every time he said “gnarly” and “bitchin” that night I would have made a tidy profit. But I don’t recall ever having heard him say these kind of words before.
Huff and Jimmy start to launch on their tales, tragedies and triumphs of the tides, and I am reminded of the scene in Jaws where they are comparing shark encounter stories (coincidentally, I just heard that 75% of shark attacks are on surfers, and I am sure jet skiers aren’t far behind). I bone up on all kinds of surf talk like Pointbreak and a Barrel and in the process learn that jet skiers often tow surfers out to their favourite surf spots. “Less paddling, dude!” The long and the short of it is, I did not need to worry about these two not getting along.
Well, so starts our friendship of couples… or maybe it can best be called dating. As Nora Ephron said, “couples date each other.” Well, if that was true we seemed to be having a threesome dating experience. Even when we were alone over at Eileen and Huff’s, inevitably Juanita & Jimmy would bang on the door and we’d all be together again. It was Juanita who noted that all of us owned corner lots within two blocks of one another. And while we have yet to build on our lot, Juanita said “Let’s form The Corner Lot Club.” Thus The CLC was born. Just for fun. I was so hoity toity and contradictory to the people there, that we just had to do it.
Out to the coolest, cheapest or best places to eat, sometimes all three in one, in our town or the four or five surrounding towns in the area, was part of our new group social adventure. Or having dinner parties and feeding each other, or one evening we fed the crocodiles together (see photos). The CLC is now our little institution. I Skyped with Jimmy the other day and they just went to a Chinese restaurant run out of someone’s house, someone who was actually Chinese which is a little more rare in our small Mexican town then say…Vancouver. See there are good things about Vancouver.
I guess the reflection today is how people’s lives change when you invite them over to dinner. Breaking bread with others will always be on of the great rewards of anyone’s life, from the poor to the mega-wealthy, aren’t we lucky.