Τhe dinner party was an unmitigated disaster. An eclectic assemblage of opposites never quite managed to attract, remaining perfectly incompatible, chugging along toward desert, bored out of their collective wits.
Judging by the look on the hostess’ face, the upcoming desert — a lump of the deflated soufflé burnt on the bottom — was nothing to look forward to… Then again, with the way it was going, a concoction that looked like a scorched amoeba might as well become a highlight of the entire dreadful evening. She’d slather some whipped crème on top and try to squeeze a joke out of it… Umph!
She shot a glance at her best friend’s husband. Their eyes met and she bit her lip. His face was handsome and expressive. The writing on it was clear, “God dammit, whatever possessed me to come here? I could’ve spent my evening fixing a toilet.”
She turned away, her eyes darting around the room, avoiding faces. She felt like grabbing a few random objects and start juggling them in the air — anything to break the tedium.
And then her gaze fell on a candelabrum hanging above the fireplace.
“Well, well, well,” the hostess said with slight exaltation, and everyone turned to see what she was looking at, and what she was looking at looked like this:
“Can anyone name the seven deadly sins?” she asked brightly.
“Lust!” said one guest and pointed at the head that could be mistaken for no other sin, particularly by this fellow. Currently separated from his third wife, he brought his mistress to the party. The girl recently graduated from Liberal Arts College into an official girlfriend with a prospect of career advancement.
“Yep. I remember lust,” another guest muttered darkly. He was a good friend of the hostess from the times immemorial. Everyone regarded him with some curiosity except his wife who said nothing but lowered her eyelids. She looked immaculately virginal, and the key of her chastity belt was locked in the dungeon and guarded by a three-headed dragon. They had a son between them and everyone wondered what miracle brought him to life.
“Gluttony,” said the guy with a fat voice whose tie attracted not only the soup but, incongruously, a few small chunks of a roast beef. Granted, the beef was slightly overdone. The guy was overweight, all right, but he hardly ate at all. His wife, a rail thin woman with no ass worth talking about, confided to the hostess once that he was in a habit of ravaging the fridge at night, every night, eating his way into the wee hours of the morning. She suspected it was the side effect of Ambien.
Another guest, a non-descript chap with British accent whom no one seem to know, including the hostess, got up and came to the fireplace. “Bloody unbelievable, they all wear hoods – monks aren’t they?” he asked with Oxbridge inflection. “I can recognize Lust and Gluttony all right. Is there an inscription to be found on the back somewhere?”
“People should know their sins,” chuckled the guest whose name was Sam.
The hostess clapped her hands and hooted. Everyone laughed, perhaps a tad too merrily. Sam was a regular bon mot dispenser who failed to dispense even a single passable witticism until now.
“I know all my sins,” said the across-the-street neighbor, an unwed mother of a young daughter.
“I’m sure you do,” said the bon mot dispenser.
“In fact, I know them all,” the catholically schooled mother assured.
Yes, she would be the one in the know, wrung through the full cycle of the Catholic schooling. She hated every minute of it and loved to tell why and just how much… until two years ago, when she enrolled her daughter into the Saint Mary’s, the all-girl Catholic school that recently changed its name from Ave Maria.
“Do say who’s who here, inform the unenlightened, I beg of you,” the no one’s friend asked.
“This one must be wrath,” said the lustful one, stroking the nose of the head in the center.
“Certainly not,” the British no one’s friend disagreed and clanked his wine glass over the first head from the left, “Wrath is the scrunched up face right here. Looks more pitiful than angry to me though.”
“Beats the hell out of me why anger is mortal sin,” the lusty guy joined in.”Anger is primal human emotion. It’s a natural reaction to all sort of shit that happens in the life of a human being. You get angry – “
“You get semiautomatic –?” the hostess prodded happily.
“Certainly not!” snorted the offended embodiment of lust. “You get angry and then, in a little while, you calm down –”
“Do calm down, Honey,” his fourth-wife-in-waiting said. “If you go to hell, it wouldn’t be for murder –”
“Aren’t we missing a sin or two? Wrath, sloth, gluttony –”
“Pride! If pride is mortal sin, then I’m a certified sinner and proud of it,” said the joker and patted his chest.
“Greed! We missed greed,” said the no-name-Briton and blushed for no apparent reason.
“Greed is good!” the joker gushed. “Remember Mr. Gekko?”
“Here!” I googled it!” said the Liberal Art girlfriend. “Bible 101. The cardinal sins are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony. Most of us are afflicted greatly with at least one or two of these. It says here: All of these sins will lead you directly to hell. To understand what hell is like, click here. Should I? Is anyone interested?”
“Let’s have some desert first,” said the hostess. “I’m proud to present my most slothful creation. In no way my culinary talents would plunge anyone into the sin of envy, and even a glutton wouldn’t lust after it or partake in it greedily. Have a taste of my soufflé, and don’t let your wrath get the best of you. We’ll leave hell for later — goes down perfectly with cognac.”
She was good with words, whenever her desert would turn out less than sinfully delicious.
Have you sinned lately? Smile! It isn’t a sin.