Monday, March 7

dinner for two


Buddy-boy is bending over a hot stove, preparing an Italian dinner. He takes a saucepan of spaghetti off the fire, and picking up the tennis racquet with the other hand, pours the spaghetti on top of the racquet strings. Then he turns on the faucet, runs water over the spaghetti. With the combined technique of Brillat-Savarin and Pancho Gonzales, he gently agitates the racquet, letting the water drain off the spaghetti. As he works, he hums a theme from Tchaikovsky's Italian Capriccio.

Fran walks in, still in her robe.

Are we dressing for dinner?

No – just come as you are.

(watching him)
Say, you're pretty good with that racquet.

You ought to see my backhand.
(dumping spaghetti into platter)
And wait till I serve the meatballs.

Shall I light the candles?

It's a must – gracious-living-wise.

As Fran starts into the living room, Bud begins to ladle meat sauce onto the spaghetti, humming operatically.

In the living room, the small table has been set for two, and prominent on it is the champagne bottle that Mr Kirkeby left behind, still in its cardboard bucket, but freshly iced. As Fran lights the candles, she notices the napkins on the table, peels a price tag off the corner of one of them.

I see you bought some napkins.

Might as well go all the way.

He carries the platter of spaghetti and meat sauce in from the kitchen, sets it on the table, sprinkles some cheese on it. Then he crosses to the coffee table, where a full martini pitcher stands in readiness, fills a couple of glasses. Fran seats herself at the table.

You know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe – shipwrecked among eight million people. Then one day I saw a footprint in the sand – and there you were –
(hands her martini)
It's a wonderful thing – dinner for two.

You usually eat alone?

Oh, no. Sometimes I have dinner with Ed Sullivan, sometimes with Dinah Shore or Perry Como – the other night I had dinner with Mae West – of course, she was much younger then.

-- Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond The Apartment