“Yikes!” Christi yelped and coughed and thumped herself on the chest with her fist. “I think you might have too much alcohol in The Recipe!”
My daughter, her friend April and my friend Cheryl were helping me get ready for the book-signing party at my house last Saturday. I had promised food, coffee, tea, wine and a big vat of The Recipe, and I apparently was a little too enthusiastic about showing my guests a good time.
We drained off some of the adult beverage from the little spigot in the big glass jar and I added more orange juice to the top. Then April stirred it with my long metal spoon and offered a sip to Christi.
“Here, taste it again,” she said.
“You do it this time,” Christi said. “My lips are still numb.”
My book, Ladykiller, finally was released last week and I’m happy to report that it sold out locally the first day and within a 50-mile radius within the week. Everyone wanted to read the story of Denton teacher Viki Lozano and her lying, cheating husband, Bobby, who murdered her and got away with it for seven years.
So I invited a few of my best friends over to celebrate the release and to give me a chance to sign their books.
“How many people do you expect?” Christi asked as she put out brownies and cupcakes and a few dozen other plates of goodies. The carb load of this party was going to start a new chapter of Mouth-Stuffers Anonymous all by itself.
“Oh, just my Facebook friends and my personal friends and relatives and a few other important people to the story. I’m just kind of playing it by ear.”
Christi’s face paled.
“Can you be more specific? We have a finite amount of refreshments here. How many could that conceivably be?”
“Uh, 700?” I estimated, and she snorted The Recipe through her nose and held her cup under the spigot for a refill. A much more manageable number actually showed up, and they all seemed to like The Recipe.
I developed it as a holiday drink many years ago using a scientific formula and a gallon measuring jug. When my husband was alive and the kids were little and the relatives flocked in so that my thoughts were more in tune with vultures than turkeys, The Recipe usually topped my thankfulness list on Thanksgiving Day.
It was a delightful concoction of orange juice, vodka and peach schnapps in equal measures — more vodka if my mother-in-law was on the guest list — and I sat and sipped my way through hours of homey family time.
Nowadays it’s just me and the twins on holidays, and the need for The Recipe has lessened, though I can’t say that it has totally disappeared.
Conviviality reigned inside my house Saturday afternoon. Rain reigned outside, so that the hugs I received were a little damp and sometimes drippy. I didn’t care. Old friends from my past life with Richard showed up. New friends I’ve heretofore known only via social media came to greet me. My brother and my son helped out with the food. Mostly taste-testing I think.
My co-workers arrived to support me, and my first editor, Keith Shelton, told stories of my atrocious spelling back before spell check saved my pride.
It got a little loud in the kitchen, where the girls were making sure the pigs-in-blankets stayed warm and The Recipe stayed replenished. Christi’s face was numb clear out to her ears, I think. People discussed the time her backside got skewered to a bedspring and we had to call the paramedics to surgically remove her from her mattress. Jack Brittian apologized for the time he and Lynn Dailey sneaked the 7-foot-tall live ostrich in our backyard while we were on vacation. They did it to bedevil Roger Dale, who was feeding our animals.
Roger called Christi to inquire if we had adopted a big bird without telling him and a few more times to find out what she thought he should feed it and if she thought it would eat the dogs.
Gradually the rain slacked off and the crowd thinned. I looked around and it was just us girls again. Christi was stuffed in an easy chair with her feet sticking up. I suspected her toes were numb by then. April was giggly under a soft afghan on the couch. Cheryl sprawled on the love seat with her eyes at half mast. I found another afghan to cover her with. Then I poured us all one last congratulatory plastic cup of The Recipe.
“Raise your glasses girls,” I said tiredly. “To loyal friends, good food, tasty booze and to justice. Viki has hers at last and now everybody knows exactly how it all came down.”
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.