She set each bottle up perfectly on their mini bar while Todd straightened the bar cart next to their television.
“Babe,” she said from the kitchen, “Can you put on a playlist? Katie just texted me and said they’re in an Ubes on the way over.” Without responding, Todd looked down at his phone and searched his Spotify for “dinner party playlists.” He put the first one on that came up.
“Charcuterie board? Check.”
That afternoon, she spent the better part of an hour at the bodega near their apartment finding the perfect meat and cheese combinations that would signal to her friends that she was well-versed in the world of meats and cheeses. “Don’t you dare start picking at this before anyone gets here,” she told Todd numerous times before anyone had arrived.
Todd walked over to the kitchen with a glass of wine in-hand. “Can I turn the game on? I know Finn and John are going to want to see it.”
“Yeah, Todd,” she responded sarcastically. “Let’s just put sports on and have all the guys huddling around the TV rather than interacting like adults. That will totally make for a fun dinner party.”
Before Todd could respond, a knock came to the door and she straightened her hair in the reflection of the microwave door before answering.
“Oh my Godddddd,” she said after cracking the door. “I love love love that top.” It was her passive-aggressive way of saying, “I bought that shirt months ago and you just copied me, so obviously I love that fucking shirt.”
Katie handed over a bottle of $8 wine that had been sitting around her apartment for the better part of a year. “Just a little something-something for the hostess with the mostest!”
“Ohhhhh,” she remarked, “Mama like.” She took it by the neck and placed it away from the rest of the wine she’d gotten from the same bodega as the meat and cheese.
“Soooo, can I get you two anything?” Todd had already given Finn a local beer (he was earlier chastised for suggesting they just drink Miller Lite, so he headed to the store and bought a beer he’d never heard of before – a summer lager). Katie obliged and asked for a glass of cabernet, before realizing that her counterpart wasn’t drinking one.
“Not drinking tonight?” Katie asked.
“Ummmm,” she hesitated. “Let’s just say that after last weekend, mama needs to tone it down a bit. I think it’s just sparkling water for me for the foreseeable future.”
Katie laughed before asking, “Are we not responsible enough to day drink anymore? I was hungover for, like, two full days.”
Another knock came to the door.
“That must be John and Caroline.”
Upon opening the door, she was surprised to see two more people. “Oh!” she screamed. “Look – it’s Spencer and Victoria!” She had invited them the day of but didn’t anticipate them to show up at the same time as Caroline and John.
Todd and Finn were in the living room area whispering about how they could put the game on without being ridiculed. Upon seeing John and Spencer, they returned back to the kitchen and opened two more beers for them.
“Yeah,” Todd mocked, “Apparently we can’t drink Miller Lite because it’s not *classy* enough for a dinner party.” His comments immediately yielded negative looks from the female contingent but it didn’t deter him from returning to the stronghold he had in the living room. The rest of the guys joined him.
After pouring herself a glass of wine, Victoria complimented how good the apartment smelled. “What’s for dinskis?” she asked.
“Just a little Whole 30 chicken casserole recipe I got off Instagram,” she announced. “Seriously, it was, like, so easy.”
Victoria took a seat on one of the bar stools that was tucked underneath the island and kept her back to the rest of the room.
“I see what you’re doing here,” she told the girls.
Coyly smiling at one another, Caroline finally chimed in and said, “Whatever do you mean, Vic?”
Victoria leaned forward on her stool and whispered, “You’re trying to set me up.”
They laughed, and after taking a single olive off the otherwise untouched charcuterie board, Katie told her, “We’re not sure what you’re talking about.” But at that point, it was clear and the fix was in.
“Shhhhhh,” Caroline hushed everyone, “Todd’s coming over.”
“Babe,” he said, “You mind if I bring this meat and cheese board over to the coffee table? We’re starving and it doesn’t look like anyone’s eating it.”
With her hands on her hips, she looked at him judgingly and said, “Todd, first of all, it’s a charcuterie board. Second of all, no, you can come join the rest of us in here if you want to eat.”
He stacked a piece of prosciutto onto a cracker and piece of smoked gouda before snidely walking away and commenting to the group, “Suit yourself.”
Turning over her shoulder, Victoria waited until Todd was out of earshot before whispering again to everyone, “Well… Spencer does look pretty cute tonight.” They all snickered before collectively taking sips of their wine (and one single sip of a sparkling water with lime in it).
“Okay,” she announced to the group, “Can I get anyone anything before we sit down for dinner?” She was holding a bottle of wine and doing a small dance with it, so everyone clearly agreed to a top-off before they sat down at the dinner table which was covered in succulents and twigs.
Place cards were perfectly set in the middle of each plate – she would be sitting across from John, Caroline across from Finn, Katie across from Todd, and Victoria across from Spencer. An eye roll came across the table upon the realization of what had just been done.
“Now if everyone could take their seats, I’ll bring the dinner to the table for you.”
Fake compliments were strewn about as the casserole and a half-assed tossed salad Todd had put together were placed between the centerpieces. “This looks so amaze,” one girl said. “Ugh, I’m starving,” one of the guys said. “I’ve been fasting all day for this,” another girl said.
Todd, beneath the table, pulled out his phone to check the score. He nudged Finn and showed him that it was 2-3 in the top of the 8th.
“Fuckkkkk,” Finn mouthed to him.
“Todd,” he was addressed from the other end of the table. “Something you’d like to share with the rest of the class?” The girls laughed while the guys groaned.
“Can we please just turn this game on for ten minutes?”
The look on her face said it all, so Todd was left with no other choice but to set his phone on the edge of the table with a live update rolling for he and Finn to discreetly look at while enduring fake conversation.
“Soooooooooooo,” Caroline began while leaning her head over the table, “How’s everything going on that end of the table?” She had officially made an awkward situation even more awkward, with Spencer ultimately realizing why he’d been invited in the first place. He wiped his face with his napkin and chewed the rest of a large bite before he was finally able to respond.
“Good,” he mumbled. “How’s everything going for you, Caroline?”
Todd looked down at this phone again.
“3-3,” he coughed with his napkin over his face.
Finn looked at him.
“Babe, I’m sorry, but this has to happen.”
He stood up from the table and walked to the living room area where he grabbed the remote that sat in the middle of the coffee table. “It’s 3-3, the bases are loaded, and five minutes isn’t going to kill anyone.”
Finn shrugged while looking down the table at Katie. “Sorry,” he mouthed. With no skin in the game, Spencer followed suit while John tried to view the television from his vantage point at the table.
Todd looked over, surprised he hadn’t received a scolding in front of the group. Her seat was empty, so his eyes diverted to the kitchen where he saw her pouring an Olivia Pope-sized glass full of the Bourdeaux she had purchased earlier that day. .