…and a fabulous recipe for broiled shrimp w/ tarragon & garlic…

A dinner party for eight…

our usual – is intimate enough so that each guest can have a one-on-one visit with every other, if desired. But eight is also ample enough in size to be diverse. Now and then, if the topic is hot, all six or eight characters stay turned into one conversation.

“It’s the sheer greed of the Republicans,” says Sam after several glasses of white then red. Sam shakes his head in disgust. “There are always gonna be those poor souls who through no fault of their own slip through the cracks.”

“It kills me to cut back on education,” chimes in Gloria. “I mean who’s going to buy all the gismos capitalists churn out if they can’t even afford food?”

Sam and Gloria, other guests’ spouses, assume the whole of the table is on the same page. I notice Victor, a finance guy, has set his jaw like a fist.

More to the point,” says Tony, a college teacher, “is how are we going to fill high-tech jobs, U.S. jobs, that the Chinese and other kids are better qualified for if we slash school funding? Can we dumb-down any further?”

Rich is silent and beaming at the other end of the table, off the hook to keep the table talk rollicking.

Victor cannot hold back. “As for the truly needy, have you all forgotten charities? People like us, relatively well-off, give money and/ or volunteer? Has that gone out of favor?”

“Oh Vic, that’s a pittance!” Gloria near shouts, tapping her fork. “Do you realize nearly half small children go to school hungry?”

“And half the mothers are single and earning minimum wage,” adds demure Susan, apologetically, under her breath. She’s forever the first to let the men have their say but not necessarily the last.

“Look, Victor, I slung hash in the dorm cafeteria to pay my tuition but when it was affordable!”

“ I paid for my Master’s while teaching third grade,” says Brenda, Victor’s wife coming to his defense. “Why on earth do the generations after us expect a free ride?” “Hold it folks!” pleads Rich, eight middle-aged adults on the verge of a food fight. “Can we just please agree personhood does not begin with a zygote and go from there?”