Over the hedge: Party perfect

The dinner table needed one final touch – and fast!

Imagine white candles glowing atop a damask tablecloth. The china at each place setting matches the linens. Name cards are done in calligraphy. Soft music sets the background. The aroma of veal wafts into the foyer, and the toffee cheesecake awaits its unveiling. Suddenly I realize – I forgot to buy flowers for the centerpiece! And the guests will be here in 20 minutes.

I make a mad dash to the floral department at the market across the street. I find just what I need – long-stemmed lilies in the loveliest shade of champagne. One of my guests is from China, and I can share with her one of my favorite quotes, a Chinese proverb: "If you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other."

I scoop the bouquet into my arms and rush to the checkout line, where I find three people ahead of me – all of them with overflowing carts. Desperate, I tap the shoulder of the woman ahead of me, explain my dilemma, and receive her permission to go ahead of her in line. The next person in line overhears my plea and grants me this blessing. Next is an elderly gentleman. I repeat my story. Could I move ahead of him in line? "Of course," he assures me. "After all, one must have food for the soul as well as food for the stomach."

Marlene Caroselli

Pittsford, N.Y.

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