Before you read anything, scroll all the way down to the bottom and look at the blond girl on the left. That’s Caitlin. You’re in love with her.
You probably don’t know it yet, and that’s fine/normal. But let me lawyer up a little and lay out my case, and then you can play the jury at the end.
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The other night, at approximately 7:20pm, your humble author, her husband, and their good friend Smash circled the streets of Koreatown. After having their hopes inflated and dashed by approximately one million empty stretches of street which turned out to be driveways, they parked and ventured (wine bottles in hand) to the apartment of their good friend Caitlin. The group had plans to attend a birthday party on the Westside later that night, and Caitlin had volunteered to feed them first.
The trio gained access to the building via a resident exiting to walk her adorable puppy. When they had braved the rickety old-LA elevator and knocked on the door of number [redacted], there was no answer. Smash pulled up the fire escape window and yelled “Hey, girrlll!” into the apartment from outside, giving its resident a moderate heart attack. She recovered sufficiently to let them inside, where they were greeted by the scent of heaven.
The style of the apartment would best be described as Anthropologie in Italy: a wood table and rustic white curtains played off a colorful, mismatched tablescape. Upbeat white-people music surged from the speakers. Caitlin bustled around the kitchen, answering all solicitations for helpful tasks with “Just stand there and look pretty.” An intense effort toward that end was made, with varying rates of success. Much red wine was consumed.
After approximately twenty minutes, the hostess emerged from her kitchen brandishing a roll of parchment paper, yelling jubilantly, “NO PLATES!” Completely confused, the three friends followed her directions and spread the paper across the table, weighting the ends with their wine glasses. She disappeared, only to reemerge with a saucepan of steaming polenta, which she poured across the paper.
It was around this point that M officially lost his ish.
Under the cover of “just making a bunch of food, show up around seven,” Caitlin had actually been plotting a world-class dinner party. She heaped the table with bowls of toppings for the polenta: homemade bolognese sauce, pesto she’d blanched in an ice bath, sausage and peppers and onions. The goofy, no-rules feel of a New England clambake with the rustic sophistication of classic Italian flavors.
There was no way for the three guests to refuse the power of this display. The next hour was a medley of admiration and wonder and confusion at how anything could taste that right. It was agreed that the removal of conventional dishware made everything more fun, and several jokes were made about marriage proposals. At some point, (right around the time the polenta plates disappeared) they stopped being jokes.
In the car on the way to the party, the three warring parties presented their various arguments, which Caitlin ignored in favor of making up hashtags* and pinballing around the backseat. Once inside the bar, she engaged in her normal pattern of social behavior, to wit: hugging everyone, dancing and drinking Moscow Mules.
Around midnight-thirty, the music was turned up to eleven and conversations became shouted, bizarre snippets. It became necessary to know which animal everyone would be, were they forced to be animals, to which Caitlin yelped: “Mermaid!”
And, for the reasons stated above, everyone loved her enough to accept a mythical half-animal being in the greater taxonomy of acceptable answers.
* * * * *
I rest my case.
*The winner being #chastitybeltformymouth, which referenced the beneficial aspects of wearing a leather skirt to a dinner party (namely, that one is physically prevented from consuming too much polenta by an inflexible waistband).