The woman’s black blouse is loose and shapeless and long over her bright pink pants, over the breadth of her fat hips. The neck is open enough to show a deep and wrinkled cleavage, and a gold ankh on a chain is dangling there, a symbol of something she does not know and does not care to know. “If you like these cabbage rolls better than mine, dear,” she declares, though no one has said a word about the cabbage rolls, or even managed to sit down from the buffet for that matter, “then you can come here to eat and save me the grief.” She breaths a wounded sigh and sits.
Her husband says nothing, only sets his tray down, seats himself, runs his hands through his thin colour-washed hair, but the other woman, dressed in leopard print polyester and too-large plastic-gold jewelry, hastens to offer assurance. “Of course not, Susan dear,” she says , “I think your cabbage rolls are far better than any buffet. And Frank thinks so too, don’t you Frank?”
Frank is wearing a short sleeved dress shirt over the hunch of his thin shoulders. Its abstract patterns of brown on cream seem chosen to match the liver spots that speckle his baldness. “I didn’t even get the cabbage rolls,” he says, “so how the hell would I know?” He leans his face almost to the edge of his bowl and begins fiercely spooning soup.
“But if you had ordered the cabbage rolls,” his wife persists, “I’m sure you would’ve preferred Susan’s. There’s really no comparison.”
Frank’s spoon is momentarily interrupted. “But I didn’t order them, did I Margaret? Because I don’t like cabbage rolls. And I’ve never even eaten Susan’s cabbage rolls, so,” he raps his spoon on the table, “how the hell would I know?”
Margaret removes her cutlery from the paper napkin wrapper and arranges them deliberately beside her plate, as if this is the only satisfactory response to her husband’s affront. “Well, I was just trying to be nice to poor Susan about her cabbage rolls. The least you could do is be a little nicer too.”
Frank’s spoon resumes its labour.
“Well,” announces Susan, brightly, as if she has heard nothing at all of this exchange,”I think the rice in these cabbage rolls is a little overcooked, don’t you Stu? And there’s no sour cream in them either, so there’s really no chance you’ll leave me for these poor little cabbage rolls, is there?”
Stu makes a noncommittal motion with his head, somewhere between a nod and a shake. He begins eating his roast beef and mashed potatoes, leaving his cabbage rolls untouched.