Red Dining Room: Table and Chairs
When we moved into this house the one piece of furniture I aspired to possess was a dining table that seated at least fourteen. My best friend Mimi had a table for fourteen in her Soho apartment. I loved that table.
Our table seats eighteen. Parties are bigger in the South. We fill it up often. Every year we give a breakfast, babies to old ladies, a Saturday close to Christmas. Every year I invite each of my classes over for a meal. I’ve had my Links chapter over for a meeting and dinner and for a holiday party. We had too many fundraisers and dinner meetings for various arts organizations to count but I do remember a Swan Ball auction committee dinner, and a Opera afterparty and a Broadax Theater fundraiser with particular fondness. We’ve had sip and sees for babies, including Tony, Jim the Boy, Early’s daughter Clara; and sip and sees for grownups who move to town and need other-than-work-friends. Every year there are birthday dinners for the people who live in the house and birthday lunches for people who don’t. I make breakfasts for troubadors passing through town and I make breakfasts for politicians staking their claim to my vote. We’ve had patriotic song sings; meals for hungry kids on their way to Bonnaroo; and meals for hungrier kids on their way back from Bonnaroo. We’ve had the Harvard Club over for pizza and the Harvard Club over for crimson cocktails and the Harvard Club over for hummus and shrimp. And there are wedding showers and baby showers. My very favorite shower to date was for our neighbor who lives across the street, Amanda. Amanda is the mother of Aria my Godchild and the wife of Carter who made the desk and kitchen table. Women came from all over the country for Amanda’s babyshower. We served corn herbed in tinfoil and baby artichokes and Prince’s Hot Chicken. The shower was not our only Little family function. We hosted an engagement dinner for Carter and Amanda as well. And a thirtieth birthday party for Carter’s older brother Courtney. My food imagination was on an uncommon but not rare cutesy jag at the time of Courtney’s birthday. We served Tennessee caviar in martini glasses with the number 30 cut out of cream cheese on the top. It was the most appallingly literal and delicious appetizer. And of course there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter and New Year’s Eve.
One of the most interesting things that happened on the table was the two months that we couldn’t use the table to serve food because Courtney and Carter (both of whom are gifted musicians and writers), and I were sorting out two thousand cards, each with the name of a favorite country song, into a few hundred themes and then into eighty-seven on the table top. Those piles turned into our book My Country Roots a Mp3guide to the best recorded country songs legally available on iTunes.
There are only scraps of fabric in our dining room: No carpet. No drapes. No upholstery. No table cloths. We do have cotton napkins. The room is indestructible. Anything spilled or dropped gets swept or mopped. Some nights we shove the table to the side of the room, fill the tabletop with wine and mason jars, pull in a band and call the house Bar Blair.
If the house is rocking don’t bother knocking.