The Dinner Party


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Thread: The Dinner Party

  1. #1
    Member Sir Roberts's Avatar
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    The Dinner Party

    The Dinner Party.

    Well, here I am again, dragged kicking and screaming from the loving embrace of my desk chair at home. And for what? So I can make cute faces with all of Natalie's air-headed chums. I could have been at my computer, doing something important like watching Alfred Hitchcock films or mercilessly killing Nazi's. Honestly, don't these people have hobbies! Even Natalie has that ridiculous sand pit (sorry, "Zen Garden"). I don't even know why she has that. All she does all day is drink overpriced, Italian Coffee, chain-smoke and talk endlessly to her friends about how I don't understand her. Well, no argument there.

    However, we all must make sacrifices for those we love. Hence why I am walking down an "Artfully Minimalist" garden path to a door which - in my mind - resembles a Gateway to a fiery Hell rather than the entrance to some idiot's Bachelor Pad. Even an eternity being repeatedly rear-ended by a burning pitchfork would be preferable to what I am about to experience. Slowly do I press my finger on the doorbell and hold my breath as I await the customer-service demon.

    The door opens, and the sound of humourless guffawing hits me like a sledgehammer. The Host of the evening stands before me, a glass of cheap Merlot in his left hand.

    "Ahh, you must be Jon!" he exclaims, grinning through his trimmed Goatee... I hate him already.

    "Yes," I say, gritting my teeth, "and you must be Marc," with a 'c'... This moron is about as French as a Cornish Pasty.

    "Excellent! You're a little later than we expected. We we're going to wait but Natalie said we could start without you."

    "Charming, let's get this over with."

    "Excuse me?"

    "I said I can't wait to see everyone."

    Marc beamed at me, "you'll really enjoy yourself tonight, Jon. Come in, I'll introduce you."

    I sigh inwardly as Marc shepherds me across the threshold, then leading me through a quagmire of white walls, chrome finishing and modern art. Eventually we reach the kitchen, which is more of the same. I give myself a moment for my eyes to adjust to the 'mood lighting' after which I notice a table. A table with 8 chairs. At 6 of the chairs sat a group of the most orange, greasy malcontents I had ever seen. "Good Lord," I breathed, "Middle-Class Umpa Lumpas."

    "Take a seat, Jon," Marc gestured at a seat between Natalie and a bleached-blonde girl wearing a cocktail dress and a vapid smile.

    I trudged over to the seat, which appeared to be made almost entirely out of glass, and gingerly sat down. Immediately, the girl to my right screeched in to my ear "Hi, Jon! I'm Vicki!"

    "Vicki with an 'I'?"

    "Oh my God! How did you know?!"

    "Lucky guess," I mumbled.


    Natalie, who had been following the interaction took this moment to lean in and whisper in my ear: "These are my friends, Jon, so be nice."


    "Fine," I grunted, turning back to... Victoria with a forced smile planted on my face, "So... Victoria, what do you do?"


    "Call me Vicki! And I don't really work!"


    "Oh?"


    "Yeah, my Dad helps me out with rent and stuff! He runs one of those big banks in London. HSDB or something."


    "Ahh, I see... Was he affected by the recession?"


    "What's a recession?!"


    I quickly spun around to the left, "Natalie, I can't do this. Can't I just go home?" I pleaded.


    "No, Jon. Now make an effort."


    I desperately looked around the table, searching for scraps of interesting conversation when I was suddenly saved.


    "Jon!" an interesting-looking, hat-wearing man said in front of me, "what are your feelings on the climate issue?"


    With relief I answered: "Well, it might not seem like much now but long-term it could potentially threaten the continuation of modern society," I liked this fellow, he had brains, he could have a decent chat, he was-


    "Well, I don't really believe in it," - a complete moron. "Everyone is saying that it could potentially destroy the human race, but I don't believe it. I mean, a temperature increase of 1 Celsius? That's nothing," heads bobbed around the table in agreement. "And another thing, all this about resources running out, how we have to stop relying on fossil fuels, is just complete nonsense. I bet they have all this stuff stock piled somewhere,

    and they're keeping it hidden to just keep prices high."


    I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You're kidding, right?" I said, Natalie nudging me in the ribs with her elbow, "It's a 1 degree increase on average, meaning days that would have normally been, say, 22° will become 23°, and days that were 34°, like in 2003, will become 35°. If the average temperature keeps increasing, then the chance of fatally hot days will increase!"


    "Jon!" Natalie hissed to my left.


    "Maybe you should consult the facts more closely before you run your mouth off in comp-"


    "Jon!" Natalie barked, "I want to talk to you - in private."


    I glared at the hat-man as Natalie led me by the hand from the kitchen in to the living room. "Jon, don't you dare embarrass me like that again," she hissed.


    "Embarrass you? That idiot had no idea what he was talking about!"


    "I don't care! You always have to be correct. Why can't you just keep your mouth shut!"


    "Natalie, I'm not just going to sit there and make googly-eyes as some idiot rambles on about things he doesn't understand."


    "These are my friends, Jon. You will be polite, you will keep your mouth shut and we will get through tonight without you embarrassing me!"


    "All right, fine, I'll behave."


    "Good, now come on."


    She led me out of the living room, and back in to the kitchen. It was then that I heard it...


    "I'm not racist, but-"


    I groaned.


    It was going to be a long night.
    "Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away... forever."

    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

  2. #2
    Patron Hawke's Avatar
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    I quite enjoyed this. I've been in similar situations and usually end up smiling and nodding while completely tuning people out, instead having an internal conversation about the size of the speaker's nose or mole, or even their escalating hand gestures... anything, rather than listening to them drone on. They're only in love with the sound of their voice anyway, so no harm and no foul on my part. By the way and unlike your main character, I'd leave my preconceived notions in my car to give the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone's like that, of course.

    I didn't check for errors, only enjoyed, so I have no constructive critiques to give you at this time. Thank you for the read and welcome to the community.


    EDIT: I just wanted to add a little friendly advice about getting constructive critiques and comments. WF is very much a give and take forum, meaning if you want constructive critiques from others, you must give them.
    Last edited by Hawke; February 9th, 2011 at 07:57 PM.
    How To Get Critiques On Your Work: WF is very much a give and take community, meaning the best way to get constructive critiques and comments on your work is to give them to others.
    "Shut up and write something." —eggo
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  3. #3
    Member Sir Roberts's Avatar
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    Thanks, Hawke. I wasn't very impressed with it, though. Far too many stereotypes for my liking. Just a dose of mindless "me-too"ism. But we've all been in situations where we nod politely whilst critiquing every aspect of our conversational partner. I tend to, anyway... I'm a horrible person.

    Thanks for the advice, though, I'll get on it.
    "Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away... forever."

    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

  4. #4
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    You definitely have a very relatable piece here. I think relatability is a crucial part of comedy, so that's one element that I really like about it. I would offer a few suggestions, however.

    I don't see as much depth as I'd like in the overall piece. For instance, your protagonist, Jon, goes on and on in the first paragraph about having to go to this dinner party, but your audience isn't told exactly why this character must go to the dinner party. If your piece is meant to be an introduction to the character and this is a larger work, then that's likely not an issue that needs to be resolved in this introduction, but if it's to be this length then I think you might want to offer a little more background information as to why Jon even goes to the dinner party. Without having a reason put before me, I have a gut reaction to not like this guy because he seems to be just a complainer and critic. It's only later on, during the conversation, that I am coerced to his side by the shallowness of the other characters' comments, although I still wonder why he's even at the dinner party.

    Another thing I might consider is adding an intelligent and witty antagonist for Jon to verbally spar with a bit.

    If this is the piece in its entirety, I think you ended it very well.

    I hope this is helpful!

  5. #5
    Member Once_more's Avatar
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    I disagree with the previous reviewer. It is very well stated that Jon is going to the dinner party because his significant other made this a "command appearance" and he - for some unknown reason, given his response to the people she considers her friends - loves her.

    I admit to some confusion on that part. If Jon is so satirical and Natalie claims friendship with a group of vapid, unoriginal morons, what could have brought them together or even kept them together? Outside of a physical relationship.

    It seems like a good piece but a bit bare bones. I suppose that would change depending on what you decided to do with it. From what you have here it looks like it could either be a story of a guy who is a miserable prat and eventually decides to catch the next flight on the mothership; a continual monologue on the idiocity of the people encountered in daily life; a sort of Winesburg, Ohio, where each dinner guest has their own chapter and own internal monologue. There are a number of things to do that could all be interesting.

    There are a few lines in the beginning that are uncomfortable but the conversation has a fantastic flow to it.

    My favorite part has to be "Middle-Class Oompa Loompas." It reminds me of all the girls I knew who would layer on the fake tan and parade themselves about in short skirts and tall hair. I wondered if one of them dyed her hair green could she do halloween as a carrot.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once_more View Post
    I disagree with the previous reviewer. It is very well stated that Jon is going to the dinner party because his significant other made this a "command appearance" and he - for some unknown reason, given his response to the people she considers her friends - loves her.

    I admit to some confusion on that part. If Jon is so satirical and Natalie claims friendship with a group of vapid, unoriginal morons, what could have brought them together or even kept them together? Outside of a physical relationship.
    I agree that it could be erotic love, but I think the door is left wide open for platonic or familial love too. It strikes me as strange to think of Jon arriving at this dinner party (where he knows no one) alone, while his significant other, Natalie, is already there. It's not an impossible scenario, but it would need to be explained.

    There is just enough background provided to add confusion. I think you'd have a great story if you either provided no background and cut out most of the first two paragraphs, or if you were to explain a few more elements that are already present in the story and provided more background information.

    The biggest questions for me are:

    a) why does Jon think it so important that he go to this dinner party (and, what may amount to the same thing, why does Natalie want Jon there so badly)?
    b) why doesn't Jon know any of the other guests who are Natalie's friends?
    c) what is Jon's relationship to Natalie?

    I'd really like to see more of this piece if you've decided to do some more work on it, Sir Roberts. I see a lot of fantastic elements that I just want to see brought to the surface.

  7. #7
    Hi Sir Roberts, (nothing pretentious there then).

    I liked it, it was an easy entertaining read. I think the difficult business of accepting the partnership between Jon and Natalie has an easy solution. The dinner guests could be clients of Natalie's 'Art' gallery.

    'Mercilessly killing Nazi's' sends a message to me of some drone playing computer games which doesn't fit with Jon's persona throughout the rest of the piece.'

    This work is essentially an intellectual comment and I am uneasy with the physical metaphors you use;
    The door opens, and the sound of humourless guffawing hits me like a sledgehammer
    Consider a nouveau riche metaphysical substitute for, 'hit me like a sledgehammer'.

    Even an eternity being repeatedly rear-ended by a burning pitchfork ...
    Same again.

    "Charming, let's get this over with."

    "Excuse me?"

    "I said I can't wait to see everyone."
    I think you could have made these two lines resemble each other in the manner of (but not) -
    "Tickle your arse with a feather."
    "Excuse me?"
    "Particularly nasty weather."

    I sigh inwardly as Marc shepherds me across the threshold, then leading me through a quagmire of white walls, chrome finishing and modern art.
    This is a bit clumsy and 'quagmire' doesn't work for me.

    I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You're kidding, right?" I said, Natalie nudging me in the ribs with her elbow, "It's a 1 degree increase on average, meaning days that would have normally been, say, 22° will become 23°, and days that were 34°, like in 2003, will become 35°. If the average temperature keeps increasing, then the chance of fatally hot days will increase
    If you wanted the reader's empathy to be with Jon, you lose it here. I don't think Jon understands the significance of a 1 degree change. Which wouldn't really matter unless he was going to call the other guy ignorant, which he does.

    "Maybe you should consult the facts more closely before you run your mouth off in comp-"
    Overall, I liked it and my favourite bit? Sitting on the glass chair.

  8. #8
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    Being new to this game, I'm learning from the critiques already offered above so am unable to suggest constructive stuff, other than to say I enjoyed the read. Is there more that you could post here?

  9. #9
    Member Sir Roberts's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the critiques, you have all somehow managed to persuade me to re-write the whole story. I will be the first to admit, it left a lot to be desired.

    And yes, Mike, I'll be posting more fiction in the very near future. Just as soon as I have designed and made a series of steampunk goblets.
    "Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away... forever."

    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

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