"Pass the bread, Dear".
"Here you are, Dear".
There were thirteen for dinner at eight. By seven after eight, eleven of the party could form a vision of targeted host backhands without looking up from the main course, forks on the way to their mouths, or with muffled orchestral triangle sound of knives clinking forks. A delicate sawing motion.
"By all means. Graciously, my Dear". There was the first flash of gritted teeth.
"My pleasure, Dear".
Eleven folks had to swallow hard now it seemed. Three of the party actually read something in the Sunday Times about how to deal with a domestic dispute just last week, and panicked as they couldn't now remember the five step program. In four of the party, gentle lamb was reluctant and suspicious passing the esophagus. One esteemed member, an actual doctor in a tight bow tie, grew rather queasy as he imagined the lamb portion fight its way towards the inlet to the diaphragm. He would quit his practice the following day, a Monday I believe.
"Dear, try the bean casserole. It's simply marvelous".
"I will, you old cow".
There was no clinking. People stopped chewing. It was like a deer in the headlights.
photo by Tom Chambers