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A Chairy Tale
by John Brooke

It was to be a display of opulence designed to impress their honored gourmets guests. They would drool over it like Pavlov’s dogs. The spirit of Julia Child hovered above the Chantilly lace covered Queen Anne dining table. Sterling silver place settings for twelve guests were gleaming. Rare Lalique wine glasses, Waterford and Baccarat crystal stood transparent alongside Wedgwood and Crown Derby fine China and French Sévres vases.

The chef and kitchen staff were at it for five long days, in preparation. Nothing was spared, using only the finest ingredients: sea food flown in from the Great Barrier Reef, Prime Beef selected from Scottish highlands, fruits fresh picked at their peak from four different tropical countries. Five vintage wines each selected to match its own course. Dom Pérignon Champagne and Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac to finish this feast for eyes and palates.

The big problem. No chairs! Not a bloody single one, let alone a missing twelve matching set. Lionel Upshut, the butler worked feverishly for two days trying to get the chairs returned from being re-upholstered especially for this event. The shop was closed, the owner had gone on a cruise, and nobody knew anything about the order.

The hostess was in deep shock! The host was furious! “Got to do something?” “Disaster!” “Laughing stock of society.” were a few of the gentler phrases that emanated from their stiff upper lips.

“If I might make a suggestion Madame and Sir, would you consider doing it the Roman way?” Upshut queried.

“What the damn hell are you blathering about?” demanded the titillated host.

“Well Sir, the Romans, impressed by Greek civilization copied them in their manner of dinning postures.”

“Out with it, for Gawd sake!” 

“Well, they consumed their dinners, reclining!” 

“You mean they ate and drank lying down, man?”

“Very civilized way of behaving, sounds divine to me.” voiced the Hostess.

“Make it so!” commanded the Host.

Upshut instructed his people to gather: suitable chaise lounges, sofas, reclining chairs, mattresses and pillows. Soon sheets and curtains transformed the place into a lavish Bacchanalia.

The honored guests were suitably impressed with the setting, the wine, the food. It was a unique gastronomic triumph.

It ended in the small hours. The Hosts toasted their exhausted Butler and his crew:

“Well done, medium, and rare! When you can’t sit up right like a Britisher, lie horizontally, like a Roman!”