“Hi Beth. What’s going on?”
Beth juggled the phone while she put her cup in the sink. “Hi Lisa, not much. I want to thank you and George for having us over last night. We enjoyed it.”
“So did we. We’ve been wanting to have some friends from church over. I’m glad Mike and Angela could come, too. Aren’t they nice?”
“I hate to bother Ron at home, but I have a question about Max.”
Beth was used to fielding calls for her veterinarian husband. “Is Max sick?”
“Not exactly, but he’s, well, gassy. George had to put him outside so we could finish breakfast. He seems uncomfortable, too. He’s been whining, and he never does that. In fact, he whines, then has a gas explosion, if you know what I mean. Is that too much information?”
Beth shifted the phone to her other ear. “No. Ron’s heard much worse.”
“I was wondering if there was anything we could do for him. I know it’s Saturday and Ron’s off. We’ll take him to Ron’s office if he’s not better Monday.”
Beth’s thoughts drifted to the dinner party the night before. She relived the scene at the table. Lisa had everything prepared perfectly. The couples took their places around a beautifully set table in front of the fireplace. Translucent white china and crystal sparkled at each place setting.
She was surprised that Lisa and George allowed their lumbering Basset Hound in the room, although he didn’t bother Beth. She was used to animals, as she often helped her husband in his veterinarian practice. Still, he didn’t fit into the elegant setting. Max slipped underneath the table. Lisa spoke up, “If Max bothers you, let me know, and I’ll put him out. He’s used to lying under the table while we eat.”
Lisa disappeared briefly, then returned carrying a serving tray. “I hope all of you like vegetarian dishes. George and I are eating healthier, and I’ve come across some delightful vegetarian dishes. This is black bean lasagna. I made some improvements on the original recipe. We like it better.” She placed individual casserole dishes in front of her guests. “You’ll tell me if you don’t like it, won’t you? It won’t hurt my feelings. We’ll just order pizza.” She looked directly at Beth.
Beth folded her napkin in her lap. “Of course I’ll tell you.”
George blessed the food.
When the prayer was over, Beth looked around. Nobody had taken a bite yet. Lisa motioned to her. “Try it.”
She took a bite of the casserole. It was chalky and unpleasant.
Lisa was looking at her expectantly. Beth considered her friend’s comments about not having her feelings hurt, but knew she was super-sensitive and prided herself on being an excellent cook. She told a white lie. “It’s really good.”
Lisa beamed. “Isn’t it great?”
Beth swallowed hard. She watched as Angela chased her first bite with a long drink of water, then announced, “Delicious.”
Lisa turned to her husband. “George, will you help me in the kitchen? I forgot the bread.”
As soon as they left the room, Ron stuck his plate under the table. Beth looked at him in shock. “What are you doing?”
“Maybe Max will eat this stuff.”
Mike followed suit. “I’m with him.”
Beth whispered, “Don’t let him eat all of it. It will look funny if your food is gone when they get back.”
The women looked at each other and giggled. Their plates went under the table.
When they heard George and Lisa coming back, the four of them put their dishes back on the table. Max had eaten from each dish.
Lisa put a basket of French bread on the table. “I’m glad you’re enjoying your dinner.”
She was greeted with nods and praises all around. “Would anyone like more?”
Beth patted her tummy. “ I couldn’t. As tasty as it is, I don‘t want to eat too much.”
Lisa nodded in understanding.
Beth was pulled back to the present by Lisa’s voice. “Beth? Are you there?”
“So would you ask Ron is there’s something we can to do make Max more comfortable?”
“I’ll have him call you when he gets home. It doesn’t sound serious. It will probably pass.” She groaned inwardly at the unintentional bad pun. Not wanting to subject Max to any more discomfort, she added, “In the meantime, don’t give Max any leftovers. Ron doesn’t recommend table scraps.”
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