Before we knew it, October’s bright blue weather had moved into the Windy City. Renewed and invigorated after the hot, muggy days of summer, I decided to host my first big Sunday dinner. Since space was limited in our two-room attic apartment, we invited three couples: Roger and Sharon, the Jerrys (Jerri and Jerry) and Maurice and Glenda.
I rose early that morning and made a meat loaf from a recipe I’d found on the Quaker Oats box. I wanted to make sure we had enough, so I doubled the recipe. I also made huge bowls of mashed potatoes and coleslaw, opened four cans of pork & beans and Mexican corn and several packages of brown & serve rolls. (We ate leftovers for a week after that!)
For appetizers, I made deviled eggs, dressing them up with half an olive in the center of each, and opened a bag of Ruffles potato chips. I served them with something new: dip made from Lipton's onion soup mix.
I put our yellow-flowered tablecloth (a wedding gift) on the little oval kitchen table and we found two backless old chairs and a stool in the kitchen crawl space. I dusted them off, and as we were pulling them around the table, Roger and Sharon arrived.
Sharon rushed up the stairs carrying a beautiful homemade four-layer Red Velvet Cake with buttercream frosting. Every other space was piled with pots and pans, so I told her to place it on the stove. (I forgot the stove was hot!)
By that time Maurice and Glenda and the Jerrys had arrived, so I brought out the appetizers.
Our guests were sitting on our saggy pin-striped sofa munching on potato chips and deviled eggs and sipping RC colas when unexpected guests stopped by: Lloyd and Marion. As they grabbed some appetizers and plopped down on the floor, I rustled up two more plates. Since there were no more chairs or forks, Carroll and Maurice stood and ate their meals with spoons.
When dessert time came, Sharon removed the cover of her Red Velvet Cake and one layer immediately slid onto the stove. We watched in horror as the second layer slid down the side of the stove and landed upside down on the floor.
Sharon rushed to retrieve the two layers that were slowly sliding toward the edge, catching them in her hands and arms. "Hot damn!" she squealed as I captured what was left on a cookie sheet.
As we were all giggling and trying to get the cake onto dessert plates, Jim and Hope showed up. Although they said they had already eaten, Jim filled his plate. Then he lined up alongside Carroll, Maurice, Roger and Jerry, making no comment when I gave him a spoon. Afterward, we all ate what was left of Sharon’s mushy (but delicious) Red Velvet Cake.
That afternoon we traveled in a motorcade to downtown Chicago where we toured the Museum of Science and Industry. When we arrived back at our place, it was eight o'clock.
"The night is young," Jim said, "Come on, follow us out to Joliet so you can see our new apartment!"
Hope and Jim's apartment was upstairs in an old house which smelled of mildew. It contained a small living room, two bedrooms and a small kitchen, all furnished in dilapidated furniture.
“This is really living!”Jim said, as we crowded into the bathroom with its turquoise toilet, pink sink and tub and yellow fish decals on the walls, “Isn't this some shit house?"
We were all speechless. Until Sharon poked her head in the door.
"Hot damn!" she said.