The Blue Devils Supper Club
I’ve hesitated to discuss the Blue Devils Supper Club openly, for fear I would jinx it, for fear it would run its course and sputter aground, for fear, like all good things, it would reach its grand conclusion and implode spectacularly like an ancient, worn-out star.
And yet, miraculously, the Blue Devils Supper Club is celebrating its sixth glorious year in operation, although now that I’ve brought it up, it will probably fall apart next month. Still, the Blue Devils Supper Club is a venture worth mentioning, and because of its success, and my own modest role in that small success, I believe a supper club how-to is in order, for those who maybe toying with the idea of starting a supper club.
First, the characters. There are seven of us — three relatively boring couples and one skinny, beautiful singleton named Kathleen who wears glittery eye makeup, velvet capes and high-heeled boots. The truth is, I am jealous of her, but of course, I will never admit it. Kathleen has entertained our club by showing up with various gentlemen friends, none of whom quite fit in with our group and each of whom has displayed annoying idiosyncrasies, like the mama’s boy with the nervous tic and the peanut allergy or the balding guy with the oily smile and the “I’m-so-much-better-than-you” smugness that made us all want to punch him. Believe me, it’s not that we don’t want to see our dear Kathleen happy; it’s just that we don’t want her happiness to infringe on our supper club.
The Blue Devils name is sacred and comes from our beloved high school, where the Independence, Ohio Blue Devils fight bravely for championships they never win because the school is just too darn small and the athletic pool even smaller. All of us, save one, are former residents of Independence, the Promised Land, a tiny suburb southwest of Cleveland that is so quaint, pristine and perfect that it’s a wonder any of us moved away. Bob, the loner, who lived right on the border — but sadly, not in the Promised Land — is our odd man out and we never let him forget that he didn’t wave the blue and gold at Friday-night football games and that he never sat at the neighbourhood Snack Shop listening to the Stones on the jukebox and harassing old man Merkle at the green grocer’s next door. The Snack Shop was the holy portal to Independence immortality — to give you some perspective, the Snack Shop booths were so sacrosanct that when my beau Ron graduated, he willed his seat to an underclassman, who happened to be my recalcitrant little brother Dennis. And believe me, that type of grand gesture is never forgotten in Independence. Reputations are built upon it.
When we first started the Blue Devils Supper Club, although we had known each other for many years (except odd-man-out Bob), our first few dinners were stiff and formal. Everyone worked industriously to bring elaborate dishes to the table, and we were all careful to politely pass the salt and pepper, so no one had to reach. Now six years later, our dinners are loose, uproarious, raucous and even a little raunchy. There are running jokes, x-rated and not, such as the memory of Arlene’s infamous diet cake with the bitter, non-sweet frosting that we all tossed into the garbage. In truth, there is no subject taboo at the dinner table, for good or for bad, but mostly for fun.
We meet every other month, on the second Saturday of the month, meaning we meet six times a year. Each member takes a turn at hosting, and it is the host’s duty to set the theme and entrée, while the others call dibs on the rest of the meal including appetizer, salad, vegetable, or dessert. Margaritas are the official club drink, although Ron and I have ventured farther afield by offering black rum cocktails and cinnamon whiskey shots, mainly because I am not a fan of tequila.
Over the years, the food, though delicious, has taken a back seat to the proceedings. The fact is, we don’t care about the food. What we do care about is seeing each other and catching up on each other’s lives, touching base with each other in an otherwise bewildering but often somewhat mundane existence, where friends are sometimes flung far from our reach and even farther from our hearts. In this context, amid the laughter and critical silliness, when we are so inclined, we toast each other and marvel at yet another gathering of the most spectacular and infinitely remarkable Independence Blue Devils Supper Club. Long may we run.