1 eager young hostess who wants to show her friends she finally owns furniture by having a dinner party
1 half of a couple who is always running late
1 couple who are constantly breaking up and getting back together
1 single friend
In a small kitchen, mix half of the guests who have arrived on time despite the fact that no one is sure whether “7:30” means “arrive at 7:30” or “arrive an hour late”, like it did in university.
Let stand for one hour, until guests are very hungry and slightly irritable.
Slowly incorporate the remainder of the guests, pausing after the addition of each one for the same grating conversation about how easy or hard it was to find the host’s apartment and how close actually it is to Cologne and what a central up and coming neighborhood this is.
Gently, fold the host’s single friend into a discussion about people whom everyone in attendance used to work with and whom he has never met.
At this point, the on again, off again couple should be stewing, having revealed themselves to be off again through a tense disagreement about which one is responsible for their lateness. Separate the couple and set aside to chill.
Meanwhile, allow the single guest to marinate in the insecurity of what is going to happens here and what could be the host’s intent with the invitation.
When all the guests have arrived, whisk the conversation about the neighborhood into a frothy lament of gentrification. Skim over the fact that the party’s attendees all live in condos in neighborhoods that were considered sketchy ten years ago but are now full of organic produce shops.
Heap a large quantity of praise on the host’s cooking even if no one knew she could cook at all. When she worries aloud that the chicken isn’t fully cooked or is getting dry, vigorously massage her ego by reassuring Her that it is. (You may have to repeat this step more times than you think is necessary because as any human being she actually likes being complimented from time to time and this is a good reason to do so.)
Let the guy whose girlfriend is still running late mince his words while pontificating on a relatively esoteric current-events issue. Listen until it becomes clear that he made it through only one relevant “long read” on his lunch hour. Grill him until he is unable to clarify his point and is rendered speechless.
Meanwhile, sprinkle each couple’s speech with “we” statements, adding a subtle flavor of competition to the melange.
Each guest should, at some point, look around and offer a lukewarm comment about how “grownup” it is to be having a dinner party.
Congratulate one another on the genius of “just hanging out with friends instead of going to a noisy expensive bar”, as though you personally invented the concept of home entertaining.
Garnish with more compliments about the chicken, which there is nowhere near enough of.
Next, embroil the guests in a “theoretical” discussion of the merits of non-monogamous relationships.
Adding more wine every few minutes, reduce to a simmering fight between the on again, off again couple about “what constitutes human nature.”
Before long, the couple’s words will begin to turn dark and brittle. Be sure not to crowd them, so that bystanders don’t get burned.
Lighten the mood by offering a new theory on how good looking men have become lazy and let the single guest share a terrible story of his dating life and how not every good looking man is lazy. Let everyone else steep in pity for this person, before deglazing.
Blend several imperceptibly different opinions on an issue that basically everyone in attendance agrees upon. By this point, wine will have loosened up the guests enough for one of them to say something stupid in an attempt to be provocative.
Expose her to the low flame of the other guests’ judgement until she could turn slightly pink if her race allowed it. Then let her blanch as she frantically defends her stupid position further, insisting that she is only “playing devil’s advocate.”
Bring the argument to a boil, then remove the devil’s advocate from the heat by letting her pretend she is too drunk.
The remaining mixture of guests should bubble into nervous laughter.
After several minutes of uncomfortable silence, you should begin hearing sighing, yawning, and per functionary offers to help with the dishes.
Once each couple has been sifted out of the appartment, they will cool off by affectionately bad mouthing the other guests on the way home.
Yields for the host to get herself in the train to Cologne, text some people to go to an expensive noisy bar, one large headache and the desire to abstain from socializing with “grown ups” for several weeks.