Brandon knocked on my open dorm-room door. “Dave, we’re crashing Tiffany’s Pampered Chef party. You in?”
“Who’s going?” I asked.
“Me, Jontay, and Freebie, so far.”
“It was his idea,” said Brandon.
“Wine, cheese, and a bunch of cooking nerds? Count me in.” I like to save my money for Magic the Gathering cards, so free booze of any kind gets my attention.
We caught Jambo in the TV room watching Love Boat reruns. We call him Jambo because he’s from Africa and that’s how they say hello. “Dude,” I said. “Love Boat? Really?”
He got this sly grin. “The love stories are so inspiring. And what do I want with cooking products?”
“We’re not going to buy anything,” I said. “We’re going because it’s funny, and it’s free wine.”
He looked uncertain, but he joined us anyway.
“The whole party doesn’t make sense,” I said. “Who buys Pampered Chef stuff in a dorm?”
“Yeah,” said Brandon. “So we bring our own kind of nonsense.”
When we strolled into the commons, Tiffany was in a tizzy with so many unexpected participants. Johntay, Freebie, and Donny were there, as well as a dozen girls, some dressed for partying that must have come with them. Tiffany is not a pretty girl. She’s got a long face with a pretty heavy overbite, and seeing her scurry around trying to get everyone to settle into chairs made me laugh out loud.
“Let’s commandeer the cookware table,” I said. We grabbed some chairs and pulled them up in front of cookers, choppers, and asparagus peelers.
“Guys, come sit over…” Tiffany tried to get us to move, but Donny started to juggle vegetables at another table. “Donny, noooo.” She took a couple tomatoes and a zucchini from him and pushed him away, but Jontay grabbed some carrots and started playing the drums on potatoes, melons, and avocados. “Stop it,” she said.
Freebie dropped off a few Shiner Bocks for us and sat down.
“You buy?” I asked.
Freebie gave me a grimace that said, ‘Are you out of your mind?’
Eventually Tiffany got the boys to leave the veggies alone and gave up trying to move them away from the merchandise. “Welcome, everyone,” she said. “Wow, this is a much bigger showing than I expected.”
Donny turned on the stereo and cranked up ‘Burning Down the House.’ The party girls started to dance and Donny whooped at them. Tiffany was saying something I couldn’t hear, her face turning red. When the song ended, Donny turned it off and sat down with the rest of us, the party girls joining him. He leaned in and whispered. “Every time someone says ‘kitchen’ or ‘cook,’ you have to drink.”
Tiffany started things up by telling everyone about her kitchen —drink— at home. When we drank in unison for the third time, she got a funny look on her face, but soldiered on. As she was wrapping up, she said, “My kitchen” —drink— “is the kitchen” —drink— “I’ve always wanted to cook” —drink— “in. Kitchens” —drink— “can be impersonal kitchens,” —drink— “or you can personalize the kitchens.” —drink— Her eyes narrowed and she frowned. “Kitchen,” —drink— “kitchen,” —drink— “kitchen.” —drink— She shook her head and muttered.
“Okay,” she said, “To introduce ourselves, I would like each of you to tell us your name and your favorite kitchen” —drink— “gadget.” She started around her table where the legitimate customers sat.
After one girl extolled the virtues of her garlic press and another reveled in the glory of her egg separator, Freebie jumped in. “Chain saw,” he said. “Best food processor ever.”
The rest of us jumped in. “Weed-wacker,” I said.
Jambo looked a little embarrassed, so I winked at him.
Donny spread his arms. “Best kitchen…,” he stopped to drink, “…gadget of all time—a flame thrower.”
We all cheered while Tiffany’s face grew redder and redder.
As our gadgets of choice started to dwindle, Tiffany said, “Let’s just start taking a look at the merchandise,” she held her open hand out to indicate the wares.
“I got this,” said Johntay. He stood and put a bowl on his head, then grabbed whisk and a ‘mix and chop’ stick. In an high, grating voice he said, “Exterminate! Exterminate!”
Donny aimed a turkey baster at him. “Halt, or I’ll zap your flux-capacitor.”
Freebie stuffed zucchini, beer, and cheese into a food processor and turned it on. “Wait, doctor. I’m mixing up the tetrion plasma right now.”
“How much for this?” said Jambo. He held up a Make & Take mason jar. Jambo had a soft-spoken way about him that made everyone pay attention—even Donny.
Tiffany told him the price.
“I’ll take it.”
Donny got this look of doubtful contemplation and stared at Jambo for a moment, then looked at Tiffany, the lingering frustration on her face. He pointed to the processor Freebie was using. “I’ll take one of these.”
He glared at Freebie, who cleared his throat. “Um. Sure. I’ll have this.” He held up a ‘grinder set’ with salt and pepper mills.
The girls from the other table came over to get things before the boys took what they wanted.
Brandon picked out a Meatball & Slider Grill Basket.
Donny cocked his head and stared at me, nodding toward the Veggie Spiralizer in front of me.
Shit. There goes my Magic the Gathering money.