Back home in the village 'villa', I had just kicked off the high heels I'd worn to lunch, retired to a horizontal position on the couch, and was this close to sleeping off the delicious Anselmi wine, when I heard footsteps outside the door that I'd left open for a beautiful mountain-top breeze. It was the good doctor who hires the top half of the 'villa', coming to insist that I join him and his family for dinner.
It seems he didn't understand when I first turned down his offer while I was walking around the garden and he invited me from his balcony above. 'I'm having supper with the across-the-street neighbours,' I told him, a decision I'd made five minutes previously when across-the-street neighbour invited me while spraying the veggies. It turned out that the good doctor had then gone to across-the-street neighbour and asked him if it was alright for me to go to him rather, to which across-the-street neighbour replied, 'It's up to her.'
And so I received the second invitation to the upstairs dinner, which I really didn't feel like attending, as it was a whole family affair, and all I really wanted was a little sandwich from across the street and then to hit the sack, as it was no-electricity night (I haven't had the generator switched on yet) and therefore a good excuse to do nothing. Half asleep, I once again told the good doctor that I was going across the street and that I'd see him for coffee this morning. If you've never seen a grown man sulk, this would have been the moment. He turned around, went to across-the-street neighbour and argued over me. Then he turned to me (I'd gotten up and moved to the garden by now to make sure that no one would be making arrangements on my behalf) and said, 'Okay, so then at least come up to us now - all the kids are playing in the pool.' The kids he was referring to are his three grandchildren, aged eight months, one year and three years. Perhaps he hadn't realised that he had practically woken me from my sleep and that rowdy children would not go down well with a post-boozy lunchtime girl. The only words I could think of were the wrong ones to choose in such a situation. 'Ma ille jlede,' I said (I'm not lus), to which I received a shocked look of response and even more sulking before he climbed back up his staircase to the splashing kids.
I arrived across the street expecting to carry bread, cheese and garden cucumbers out to the patio, but instead saintly neighbour was preparing tabbouleh, pizzas, labneh and more for the 'no hassle' dinner she's promised. Out on the balcony, overlooking the mountainside, the three of us dug into a Lebanese feast like one imagines when reading books about countryside hospitality. The best part was when saintly wife scolded fat husband after he cracked open his 10th almond. 'Stop now, that's enough. They'll make you fat.' This after he'd been eating fat-filled ham, two very fatty cheeses, pizza and oily labneh.