So, Gary arrives and I introduce him to my hungry, cranky guests.
“This is my friend Gary, who has just published a novel in England,” I say.
“What’s the novel about?” someone asks.
“Shooting my parents,” Gary says.
That gets their attention.
“I’m the best writer in America,” Gary says. “The book got great reviews in England and it just got published here, but nobody’s paying any attention. I guess what it takes to get attention in this country is to shoot somebody. Maybe I should go out and shoot somebody again. Heh, heh.”
I see two people nervously looking at the shish kebab skewers, which are glowing blood red in the fireplace.
“Heh, heh,” the guests say.
Gary disappears into the bathroom for a long time. Then he leaves.
After his departure, there is an eruption of euphoria, relief and excitement in my apartment. It’s the best Talk About the Guest Who Just Left ever. Nobody was shot, and the food is finally ready. I serve the steaks and sherbet and the guests love it. I go to bed happy.
The next day the psychopharmacist calls.
“Your friend needs treatment,” he says. “I wouldn’t touch him with Thorazine darts, but I’ll be glad to refer him to my partner.”
Gary is long gone, but I remember him fondly. R.I.P., Gary. You saved my dinner party.
Joyce Wadler, the author of two nonfiction books, wrote The New York Times column “I Was Misinformed” for several years and has just completed her first novel, “The Satyr in Bungalow D.”