Feeling Valentine's isn't just the province of freshly minted lovers and couples with lots of mileage on the clock and that it's also a great time for friends to hang out, eleven of us gathered at Lynne and Lee's house over the weekend. L&L are great friends who live in a nearby Victorian-style home and they're fanatical about everything peacock related--well, actually it's Lynne who's fanatical because peacock keepsakes feature in abundance on the annual Christmas tree, there are peacock sconces, a brass peacock fireguard, a sumptuous peacock tapestry doubling as a duvet in her Princess Diana (who among us didn't love Diana?) room, peacock sculptures, yet more peacock sculptures, peacocks painted on some of the wine glasses, peacock feathers...oh, and their house's name is on a beautiful handpainted sign with--you've guessed it--a magnificent peacock painted by another talented friend, Michelle.
We had a ball--many Champagne toasts, much good wine and a superb dinner prepared by Lynne who's an excellent cook. Afterwards, someone suggested we play a new game called 'Psychiatrist'--it was probably Lynne because she's a psychologist--and the group nominated Yours Truly to play the shrink. I was briefed hastily on the rules, namely to ask the group lots of questions including loads of sexually charged questions because they always elicit the best and most truthful responses. My assistant was Merryl who began excellently but then, perhaps grown tired from the effects of the vino or bored with the barrage of questions I was asking the others--who had to answer truthfully and furnish 'yes' or 'no' responses in order to help me solve the puzzle they'd settled among themselves in secret--passed out and left me to the wolves.
Of course, Sharon, who's proudly Polish-American and very assertive added much pressure by remarking that 'other friends who've played this game with us in Hoboken solved it in twenty minutes' and then, half-an-hour later following more red wine, began to take the piss of my Northern Irish accent. Getting nowhere, I began to feel extremely dumb and didn't even have Merryl to for co-share purposes. Groping for an out and not finding one, I began to dissociate and view the game as beneath me. Larry's patience cracked and he began to bark, 'domain, listen to our answers, really listen to our answers, it's simple if you listen.' That was it. I needed to surrender but my dumb-arse pride would not allow me--a longstanding disadvantage I've found about once attending law school. For me the argument runs: Damian McNicholl attended law school, ergo he must NEVER be seen or admit to being dumb under any circumstance. As the minutes tortoised by, Merryl, now splayed serenely beside me on the loveseat, would pop open her eyes, exude a squeak or teeny-weeny grunt, and then pass out before I could prevail upon her.
Finally, at nearly one o'clock in the morning, when even the peacock statutory seemed to be eyeing me malevolently and with ever increasingly pointed clues from my 'patients,' I solved the puzzle and out came one of Lynne's Christmas gifts, her shiny, silver Karaoke machine.