6:40: I'm here, at the central headquarters of NinaNet, awaiting the next Blogger dinner. The plan is to not just eat this evening, but also to simulblog the entire affair. Other expected guests have their blogs here (A) and here (B).
6:50: Nina is squeezing some doughy stuff out of a bag. It's for what's she's claiming was her signature dish at L'Etoile. Whatever it is, it starts with a "Gr" sound and is French. She refuses to spell it for the purposes of our audience. BTW, I forgot my digital camera, and so if anyone is going to be uploading photos of all the delicious stuff Nina is making, it won't be me.
6:53: Nina has already gone into her spiel about what an atrocity it is that I don't cook. "Who was that guy who said in your comments that he didn't want to be some quintessential male who only made macaroni & cheese...?" "He's a graduate student in sociology somewhere." "I read that and I thought, right on, whoever you are." As I type this, she is wandering around her kitchen, doing this mocking high-pitched imitation of me (frankly, Nina's imitation doesn't sound anything like me, but instead sounds a little like a screeching marmot).
6:57: Nina now believes she is dictating something for me to post and that I am posting it dutifully. Seriously, she's reciting it to me like a 50's style boss doing dictation to his secretary. Punctuation included. (I'm not actually typing it in, of course.)
7:00: Nina has gotten sufficiently carried away in her little verbal games that something is now on fire. Punctuate that!
7:05: Ann has arrived. Nina handed me the first bottle of whatever to open. She didn't mention it was some kind of bubbly thing that would foam up and get on everything upon being opened. My laptop was missed by inches.
7:10: We have all removed our shoes. Nina claims this is "a Polish custom that [she] hasn't been able to shake." Ann is taking pictures. In backing away and trying to get a good angle of Nina cooking and me blogging, Ann inadvertently comes within four inches of tumbling down the Camic basement stairs. Oh, and now something else in the kitchen is in flames. Two blazes in ten minutes. Ann got a picture of it.
7:14: The topic of conversation has turned to foods that taste good burned. Top of the list: marshmallows!
7:20: Tonya has arrived, karaoke machine in tow. Nina is unveiling what will be the fish entree of the evening. "Fish is hard," she says, "because you know, people say they like fish but then they don't like fishy fish..." "Like catfish," Ann says. "Like walleye," I say. Nina turns and pointedly: "What if it was walleye?" "What if it was catfish?" I do not add. It's neither, which isn't surprising, given that they are fishy fish: it's skate.
7:31: Tonya has her computer out now. She has a PowerBook with what looks a 25-inch screen. Seriously, this is the largest contemporary laptop I've seen; it looks like a titanium dormitory-dining-hall serving tray.
7:33: Nina's first threat to throw me out of the house!
7:40: Tonya is the one to point out the obvious: that it is something over 90-degrees here in the Kitchen Camic. Nothing can be done: Nina says this is "a Polish custom that [she] hasn't been able to let go of."
7:46: Nina's second threat to throw me out. Tonya and Ann are playing competing songs on their Powerbooks. Given that Tonya has the most giant Powerbook I have ever seen, it's not surprising that I can only hear hers. The song: "Ants Marching," Dave Matthews Band.
7:49: Nina gives the five minute warning to first course.
7:54: Right on time, Nina is serving up the risotto and demanding a suspension of blogging.
7:59: First reference to Melville! We do work in The Ivory Tower, after all.
8:11: First course is off the table. After I had started eating, Tonya says "We use the small fork," right? To which I have to hold up the fork I'm using and the one I'm not and compare. "Yes!!!" Meanwhile, Tonya has some hip-hop song going that begins with a chant "Go! [beat] Go! [beat] Go! [beat] Go!" "Hey, they're singing about goats!" says Nina.
8:13: The risotto, incidentally, is fantastic.
8:21: The air conditioning is on. "Those Americans," sighs Nina, with a kind of resigned intonation and said as though we aren't here, "those Americans have no tolerance for anything that is not just so. There is no air conditioning in all of Poland, as far as I know."
8:29: I surreptitiously check my e-mail. I am such an addict. "What are you blogging?" Tonya asks. "Nothing," I reply, honestly.
9:07: The television is out, and we're watching the GWB convention film. Tonya (a New Yorker) begins to talk about "How I hate the way he uses..." and I think she is going to finish with "9/11" but instead she says "the Yankees."
9:47: I lost my last two time entries, somehow! You missed a whole long conversation about who would be the Democratic nominee if every voter followed the "hottie" strategy used by some. There is one enthusiast for Bill Clinton. I do point out the constitutional exclusion against a third term. "He could serve a third term with me," says someone.
You also missed my post about how wonderful was the dessert that Nina made. Indeed, it was so good that Nina licked her plate completely clean. Then she pulled the plate off her face, and she and Ann began arguing about the Middle East. As a public sociologist, I should be joining in the debate, but instead I secretly checked my e-mail again. Bad, bad public sociologist!
9:52: Nina has her computer out, so we are all four online now. Tonya is disappointed that no one else is itching to do karaoke. I had to break it to her earlier that, while I enjoy karaoke, I can't actually sing.
9:59: Tonya is crawling on the ground in the other room. I'm not sure what has happened. Whatever it is, there is apparently a photo which Nina does NOT have permission to post.
10:01: GWB is on the TV saying "there have always been doubters." As if on cue, Tonya brings the karaoke machine out and is setting it up on the karaoke table. She will not be denied. Dear God, Tonya has a LOT of karaoke CDs. Note to fellow UW sociologists: we should raid and copy her stash.
10:06: Bush is still going. Tonya is singing Dave Matthews Band's "Too Much" into the karaoke machine. Ann notes that it is difficult to blog through it all.
10:12: Bush just finished, as Nina began to press Tonya on whether, given that it's just us all sitting around the kitchen table, she really needs to be using the microphone on her karaoke set. Sometimes Nina doesn't understand karaoke at all.
10:14: After mostly ignoring the TV, we all turn in confusion when the announcer, describing the convention floor, says "For those of you who are watching on black and white TVs, the balloons are red, white, and blue." "Who has a black and white TV?" Nina exclaims. ("Except in Poland," I expect her to add, but she doesn't.)
10:20: Ann checks her sitemeter and she's had over a thousand people check out her site in the last hour. Anyone disappointed by her paucity of posts this evening should recognize that she been working while have dinner and drinks and while having the person to her left doing an extended Dave Matthews Band karaoke medley. (STOP THE PRESSES: Tonya has just stopped the DMB run, cranking up the microphone in order to do Santana's "Smooth.")
10:36: As Tonya does "Band of Gold," she makes an instrumental break reference to Isaac Hayes, which causes Nina to shout "Issac Hayes! Did you read in the paper how he was in New Haven the same time I was?" (Strangely, the rest of us all missed this story.) Now, Tonya has ceded the microphone to Nina, who is doing a good version of "My Girl," with this running commentary that makes it almost seem like The Official Annotated My Girl. At an instrument part near the end, she shouts "MORE WORDS! I can't believe there are more words. Shut up already! Okay... month of May..."
[soon afterward, I closed my laptop... I didn't get home, though, until after 11:30. If the preceding does not emphasize enough what an amazing-amazing cook Nina is--not to mention a fantastic and indulgent all-around host--please mentally amend accordingly.]