The sneaky forces of Intentional Destiny (who, according to most theologians, do not exist [they don't -- bb]) are conspiring to give me a career as a city pigeon. Or, perhaps, a child's ball.
The First Dinner: Thery and Yarwain and Iska
In Famous Collections class, Professor Yrrkyrr required that we work in small groups to do a complete spraddled-catalog analysis of our choice of collection of antique glass, "because everyone must do a spraddled-catalog analysis once in their lives, and nobody should ever have to do two of them." Yarwain recommended to me that I join him and Thery for an early dinner, a selection of collection, and a bit of preliminary spraddling.
I should have been more careful, more alert and watchful, more deviously cunning, for he invited Iska too. Ah, well, at least her mathematical prowess will be helpful in the assigment. And I can mock her poor Ketherian in this journal: "O Thery, soup of apricot is the very good tonight! For you I thank this soup!"
Soup of apricot was the very good tonight, and leftover takeout acorn-and-cashew stew, and a box of Floooooooshy poptaloops, and a salad that looked like Dustweed and Tethezai had gone berserk in it (Dustweed Herethroy for saladness, Tethezai art-student for all the colors of leaves and petals) but turned out to be the leftover takeout mixed salad that went with the stew.
We picked the catalog of the glass collection of Durnokk Glassfanged, a Gormoror war-king from Iska's home branch three centuries ago. Nobody else will do that one, we are sure, even though it is in the book of case studies; and Iska explained where the listed provenances actually are.
Fine. She's very useful. Hmph. At least she's properly grateful to be included in polite society: grateful enough to do lots of maths for us.
But Thery had to bring Yarwain to meet her aunt Strie -- Quastrica --- and so we were spared the worst of the spraddling, at least until the morrow.
The Second Dinner: Havune and Anoof
I returned home. Dubaille was off taking his children somewhere (which turned out to be the Sloop in Soup, which is an odd and awkward place for children, but Dubaille makes many odd and awkward choices), so Anoof was over, and Havune was simmering a soup of carrots and cabbages and meatballs.
I sat on the stove and interrogated Anoof for the first time. He and Havune and one other man (Broon) and two women (Leiska and Narngi) are tentatively engaged. (For monsters: Cani marry in groups of about a dozen or thereabouts, so Havune and friends are no closer than half there, and it can't be a proper and real engagement 'til they've got everyone.) Anoof and Havune are to be brother-brothers, which doesn't strictly mean they have to be lovers, though I think they are. Other arrangements: Broon and Narngi are to be husband and wife; that's the closest degree of marriage. Leiska and Narngi will be sister-sisters; they've been planning that since they were six.
Anoof or Havune will be Leiska's mate (closer than just 'married', but not as close as 'husband and wife', and 'brother-brother' or 'sister-sister' is ... um ... about the same I guess? I'll have to ask), but it hasn't been decided who it will be. This seems wrong to me -- shouldn't it be about who loves whom the most, or something? -- but no, it's as much about balancing the family (which I don't understand) and providing good pedigrees for the puppies (which I suppose makes sense) as about love.
For Cani, love isn't particularly what starts a marriage going. With such a big gang of people, I imagine you can't really wait for love to thump everyone the right way in any case. They start with enough love, and grow the rest after the marriage is going.
And while they were arguing about Leiska -- Anoof likes her better, but he likes females better in general, and he was pointing out that Havune is a slightly better sire for Leiska's children and will have to take a mate or two and a wife in any case -- I abducted a meatball and some cabbage. This was foolish.
The Third Dinner: Strenata
Foolish, for not three minutes later, Arhoola (Strenata) showed up and abducted me. To return to her apartment, and lie on her bare lilac-spotted belly, and breathroast sprats and dip them into a very odd and dangerous sauce she had just made of vinegar and chilis and chiffonade of arhoolie leaves, and feed them to each other.
Which is something I wish to greatly encourage. Especially since we were flirting about whether she really needed to keep her skirt on ... and she had just extracted a promise from me that I wouldn't spill the odd, dangerous, and surely-painful sauce into her lap, when of course her roommate Oonspath returned.
When I say "Oonspath returned", I mean "Oonspath returned, and immediately started demanding that she pay her portion of the rent, and various other sundry expenses."
Arhoola pointed out that she had already paid her portion of the rent. Oonspath disputed this.
In the best Orren style, they had only confusing and fragmentary records, which were lost somewhere in the apartment.
Two-thirds of an hour later, Strenata kissed me (yum!) and we made another date for two days' hence, and sent me home.
The Fourth Dinner: Spirshash
Home, where (1) Dustweed and Tethezai were holed up in my room, talking in low unhappy tones -- some adolescent Herethroy had thrown logs at Dustweed again -- and (2) Spirshash was whimpering on the couch in the common room, waiting for me.
Spirshash has some reason to whimper. Tillissa and Oostmarine have been getting ever-closer; Tillissa and Spirshash have been fighting more. This evening, Oostmarine shook his head and said that he really hoped their marriage could continue... which, for young and not-deeply-connected Orren, means roughly "I imagine we'll get divorced within the year."
Well, Spirshash had been crying a great deal, and not doing much else, and his hands were actually shaking, so I tried to feed him the leftover Cani dinner, but there was no leftover Cani dinner, so I took him out to the Cafe du Fronde to share a tureen of trout chowder and a chalice of kathia with butter and cassowary and sugar and a plate of little triangle scallop-and-cherry pastries, and a lot of comforting.
And a great deal of comforting was required. All of which was the sort that can conveniently be done in the Cafe du Fronde -- at the most interesting, I tail-hugged his wrist -- but we talked for about three hours. Talked in circles, and absolutely nothing was settled except for his stomach and his mind.
(He did say, "I should have coupled with you while I had the chance. Then maybe they and I would have broken up cleanly and sharply, not this slow gangrenous division." I think I will work a bit and take this as a compliment.)
So, I took him back to our apartment, and put him on the couch, and fed him some mediocre brandy Thery didn't want to take to her new home, and covered him with a light blanket, and there he slept the night. I flew back into my room, where Tethezai from Dustweed's bed gave me the secret smile of Those Who Take Care Of Others In Need, and draped myself over logs to sleep.
Still, four dinners in one day is a bit much, even for me...