Dinner At Ed’s is the funny, bittersweet story of a group of quirky friends with bipolar disorder(many also happen to be gay) who get together every Friday night for a party at Ed’s house. The story is full of unrequited love, gourmet cooking, gardening, artistic sewing, French speaking, and travel.

75,000 words, comedy/drama

me at jay's

Will Jacques ever clean out his car?

Will Ed ever find true love?

Will Thomas ever stop talking?

Will Macy ever get tired of fetching the ball?

Will Leela ever find the perfect recipe for gluten free bread?

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Read Chapter 1 Right here:

CHAPTER 1
THE BUSHY WIENER GROUP
Strong Ties is an outpatient clinic of Strong Hospital, part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, a world class research/teaching facility known for making groundbreaking medical discoveries on a regular basis, such as LIST SOME SPECIFIC DISCOVERIES, and whose motto is “Medicine Of The Hightest Order.”
Located in the suburb Henrietta, Land of Shopping Malls, the modern building shares a large parking lot with Movies 10. Across the street is Jay’s Diner.
20 people sit calmly in the spaceous reception area, where rows of seats are built into the attractive design of the room, waiting to see doctors, mainly for the purpose of monitoring medications. It’s all about the pills.
These are the dregs of society. Look at them. You can tell they are disabled just by how they look. Overweight. Sloppy clothes. Bad manners. I fit right in.
Don’t say that. They’re not all like that. Many are relatively stable, and not wearing hockey masks, or weilding machetes.
One guy asks another for a cigarette. That’s all they do is smoke and look for handouts.
Many do have a jobs. They are good people. They can’t help having a medical condition. It’s me. I’m a bad person with bad thoughts.
These are the people who failed at society. This is our place. Going to endless doctors appointments. Growing sicker.
No! I reject the bad thoughts, and replace them with good thoughts. I am a good person. I am working hard, and getting better. One day people will say, “Look at him. He used to be on disability, and now he’s a multi-millionaire.”
Near the entrance, a large security guard sits in his booth. On his desk a sign reads, “Next bus is at:” Under that is a handwritten card, “11:45 am.” As time passes, the card can be flipped on the rolodex to show the next bus.
Behind a barrier of bulletproof glass, the receptionists type at their computers, intaking people for appointments.
A tall fat man stands in the front of the room with his head drooped down, and his big belly bulging out the bottom of a stained t-shirt. He shuffles like a zombie past the reception windows in his dirty torn sneakers without laces, falling off his calloused, unkempt feet. His bush of hair looks like it’s never been combed. His jaw hangs open, too lazy to close, and tongue bends part way out, as if licking an ice cream cone that isn’t there. As an afterthought, he bends down to the little hole in the glass. His voice is high pitched and childish for such a big guy, “Is Dr. Dvorin here?”
The lady says, muffled, “Have a seat, Freddy. Somebody will be with you in a moment.”
“Okay.”
The security guard walks over to him. Will he throw him in a head lock or zap him with the taser, the one that sparks menacingly in its holster? No. He is friendly and casual. “How is everything Freddy?”
“Good.”
A tall thin attractive man in his 60’s, Ed, sits reading a beat up old paperback, in French, Tin Tin au Tibet.
A few spots over sits Liesl, lovely, 40, full figured, with a lively bush of wild hair. She is tapping the side of her hand against the side of the other hand. There seems to be a method to her madness. She taps in rhythm a number of times in one spot, then moves to the next point on her wrist, and taps the same number, then the next. It looks odd. People are gonna thinks she’s crazy.
Then she switches hands, and repeats the process.
Then she taps on her forehead in a similar pattern.
Two seats over is Helen, 40, heavy set. She just fits in the chair. She’s sewing a small stuffed animal. She looks over to Liesl with wide eyes, then comes out with, “What are you doing?”
Liesl: “I’m tapping. It’s self-calming. It’s supposed to balance your chakras.”
Helen: “Okay.”
Liesl: “It really works.” She looks at the doll. “That’s cute.”
Helen: “His name is Teddy.”
Liesl smiles. “Is it a donkey?”
Helen: “It’s a monkey, see this is the banana.”
Liesl: “That’s a banana? I thought he was eating straw.”
Helen: “No. That’s a banana, and that’s his tail.”
Why don’t they keep their appointments? The group is supposed to start at 11:00, and it’s already 11:10. Maybe if they would put the crack pipe down for one second they could start the fucking group on time.
At the end sits inconspicuously Dante, 30, thin and muscular, with a shaggy mop of curly black hair. His dark eyes with thick black lashes, sometimes scan the room, before returning to a composed posture.
A woman’s voice says over the public address system, “The Bushy-Wiener Group is now meeting in room 3.”
It’s about fucking time.
A casually dressed woman with a name tag hanging loosely from her neck comes out and holds the door open, to let people in the back.
Ed places a antique leather bookmark from Morocco, in his place, and stands. Puts the book in his coat pocket, and slings it dapperly over one arm.
Liesl stops tapping and gets up. Collects her bags.
Dante shoots up athletically.
Helen takes longer to get her leverage to rise. She squeezes out of the chair. She seems to do everything at a slightly slower pace.
Ed smiles, “Bushy wiener.”
Liesl laughs, “I know. What kind of group is this?”
Dante smiles impishly. “Bushy wiener.”
Ed asks, “Is your weiner bushy?”
Liesl laughs.
Nancy Bushy is the Nurse Practitioner who leads this bipolar support group. it. Todd Wiener is the psychiatrist who oversees it administratively, but doesn’t actually attend. Hence the name, Bushy Wiener.
In a clean, professional looking meeting room, eight people sit in a circle. There are some framed pieces of art on the walls. Not bad art. I have a tendency to just keep staring at the artwork across from me on the wall. Something to occupy the mind, while listening to, or tuning out, what is being said.
Dante sits in the far corner, perhaps trying not to be called upon. He has a mild manner, and a button nose. Ed takes the seat next to him, in a graceful manner. Liesl sits next to him, and begins tapping again. Helen sits next to her.
Lyndsay comes in the last minute, in a bit of a fluster. She is 24, with long straight blond hair, and attractive in an obvious sort of way. She has a big smile on her face that seems to never leave. “Sorry I’m late.” She takes a seat next to Dante, who looks up in surprise. He nods to her congenially. As soon as I lay eyes on her, my immediate reaction is, here is another very attractive women, who will want nothing to do with me. Don’t show your attraction. Put up a wall of defense. Pretend you don’t notice her.
But she proved me wrong.
The public address system can be heard faintly from inside the room. “Last call for the Bushy Weiner Group.”
Liesl laughs heartily. “Bushy weiner!”
Ed smiles and chuckles. “Bushy weinie.”
Liesl laughs harder.
Dante smiles a little bigger, but not all the way.
Nurse Bushy comes in and the group comes to order. “I guess we’re ready. How was everyones’ week?’
Helen: “Good.”
Dante nods.
“Dante, what did you do?”
“Ooo, I organized my barn. I have to get rid of some of the junk.”
Bushy: “What else?”
Dante” “I did a little work on my car, fixed a lawnmower. I don’t know.” He smiles sheepishly. He wears a loose polo shirt.
Ed has a handsome face with a lot of wrinkles, which seem to enhance the intensity of his expressions. He listens intently.
“Liesl, how was your week?”
“Right now I’m staying with Gail. I need to find a place. I may have to live in my yurt.”
I ask, “What’s a yurt?”
“A tent. I had to leave my old place.”
Bushy: “Why is that?”
“I had to get away from Gene. He was starting to get physically abusive. He was psychologically abusive for twenty years, but when it started getting physical, that where I draw the line.”
Helen: “It’s good that you had the courage to do that.”
Liesl: “I need help moving my stuff from the storage facility. Can anyone help me this Monday.”
Ed: “I think I can do it.”
Dante: “I might be able to.”
Bushy: “Helen?”
“Huh?” Helen speaks slowly.
I wish she would come out with it, but she has to draw it out. This is going to take forever. Just accept it. You’re here. Just relax. Time is going to pass one way or another. Just make the best of it. No one is punching you in the face. It’s important to be a nice person. Focus on the brushstrokes.
Helen: “I’ve been struggling with depression.”
Oh boy. Here we go. Nobody says anything.
“When I was living in Rush. I was sharing a house with another family. ” Here we go again with the fire story.” They had 10 cats and dogs. The place was like a zoo. One day the dog kicked over a lamp, and set the house on fire. Everything was destroyed. I got out with just the clothes on my back. I lost everything. My picture albums. My art. My cat was killed.
Liesl: “Possession can be replaced. At least you’re okay.”
Helen: “Fifi died in the fire.”
Bushy: “That must have been painful.”
Why did she have to ask?
Helen: “I just feel like there is nothing left for me to do. I’ve raised my children. I’ve done all the art I can do.”
Bushy: “Do you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself?”
Helen: “To be honest. Yes.”
I’m having thoughts of suicide just listening to her. I’m a terrible person. She has a soul, just like everyone else. I feel bad for her, but what can I do.
I say, “I find that exercise really helps my depression. I consider it my medication. When I speed walk I feel good for the rest of the day.”
Helen: “i can’t walk much because of my knees.”
I feel bad for her. I struggle with my weight too. But you have to fight it. You have to exercise. You can’t say you want to lose weight and then stuff yourself with pizza and chips.
Dante nods his head, and perks up. “I was suicidal once. But I’m okay now.”
I’m not gay, but I can see how Dante would be attractive to someone who likes that sort of thing, in an exotic way, dark complexion, thick eyelashes, and heavy Spanish accent.
Helen: “Did you act on the impulse?”
“Yeah, that’s how I got this.” He makes a quick gesture.
Ed asks “What?”
“These scars on my neck.” We didn’t notice it before, but now that he mentions it, he has a shitload of scars on his neck. You can tell they are many years old, and well faded, but still legible, telling a whole story, a dramatic tale of passion. He obviously dug into his neck violently, ripping down the length of it, ten or twenty times. Long deep slashes. “I attempted suicide back in 1988.”
I say, “It looks pretty major. I’m surprised you survived.”
“They said I was lucky. I didn’t hit any major arteries.” He pulls his shirt back up, and says coyly, “They’re ugly.”
Ed: “Not at all. They add character.”
Liesl interjects cheerfully, “It makes you look like a badass.”
Danted smiles.
Ed remembers the sexy curves of his wiry, muscular neck and shoulders.
Helen: “You wanted to die.”
“At the time really. I don’t know what I was thinking. ” He smiles sheepishly, innocently, care-free. Like it’s not a big deal.
I say, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Dante tilts his head and raises his eyebrows, which could mean yeah or whatever.
Helen, “Did it hurt? It must have hurt.”
“You know. I was in such a state. I don’t really remembering it hurting. The thing I remember is the blood. The blood was just pouring out.”
Nurse Fuzzy nods her head. “Bleeding is very common with neck wounds.”
Dante smiles like it’s no big deal, which it isn’t, it doesn’t have to be, it’s all about attitude. Would it be better if he were like me, miserable all the time? “The floor was covered. I was standing in a puddle. I slipped.” He chuckles about it.
It’s a little strange how okay he is with it. I would be all broken up about it, ashamed, full of regret, and self-flagellation. I say, “I would imagine you’d be screaming and moaning about it.”
Then the coin in my head flips. That’s just what I would do. You can’t predict other people’s behavior.
Helen: “Just because he doesn’t show his emotions on the outside, doesn’t mean that he isn’t feeling something on the inside.”
Yeah I guess. Who knows?
Liesl, “My therapist says, Don’t have any expectations, and then you won’t be disappointed.”
Ed say gently, “You really could have died.”
Dante nods. His face shows no pain. He seems very well adjusted.
Ed looks at his neck. The scars are visible over his collar. The skin is healthy. Young. He has a fit form. He obviously works out. His shoulders are big, and his forearms are too.
“I’m doing much better now.”
Me: “So what do you do with yourself?”
“Mostly I work on the cars. Some lawnmowers. I have about five cars in my barn. I work on the barn.”
Me: “What do you do to the barn?”
“Oh paint. I could do the roof.”
Liesl: “Were you were in Strong?”
Dante nods.
Me: “I was there in ’91. Back then you could smoke in the hospital.”
Ed, “I used to hang out in the smoking room all day. You could smoke as much as you want. That was in the 80’s. Then they started cracking down.”
Me: “On the ward I was on, you could only smoke two cigarettes a day. Once after breakfast, and once after dinner. They would announce smoking, and everyone would line up. People had their packs in storage, and they would hand each person a single cigarette, and light it for them. Of course no one was allowed to have lighters.”
Ed: “Fascists! What is it with these people? What are you going to do with a lighter?”
Helen: “Start a fire.”
Me: “We’d smoke right there in the day room. That’s when I used to smoke. I didn’t have any, but they would give me a free one.”
Liesl: “I don’t smoke. All I know is my eyes would water, and would have headaches from smelling it. Sometimes I would feel dizzy.”
Me: “Then people with passes could go outside a few times a day to smoke also.”
Liesl: “One time this guys blew smoke in my face. It was a joint laced with pcp. I was tripping for months.”
Me: “Where did this happen?”
“Right on the ward!”
Dante: “I remember the smoking room. It was filled with smoke. There was a big bucket for an ashtray, and it was overflowing with a thousand butts.”
Ed watched his mouth move and thinks how sexy he is. He thinks he’s gay. He definitely has those subtle cues. But he’s not overly obvious about, which is what he likes.
Ed perks up. Sits up straight, “I have an announcement to make. I’d like to invite everyone to my house this Friday for a little get together. Say 6 o’clock.”
Helen looks concerned. “What kind of get together?”
Ed: “A party. I was thinking of lighting the barbecue and roasting some chicken, or maybe sausage.”
Liesl says enthusiastically, “I could make some curry red lentils.”
Helen: “A dinner party.”
Social events are awkward, not my favorite thing, but I do love eating.
Ed: “Yes. I think I’ll make crepe suzettes for dessert.”
Dante smiles youthfully. “Crepes suzettes.”
Helen: “I could make chicken salad.”
Ed addresses Dante with a solemn look. “I’d like you to come.”
Helen: “I may be a little late. I have to give my client a ride to Strong Ties. It shouldn’t be any later than 7.”
Ed: “Whatever time. It doesn’t matter. I usually eat late, European style, around 9.”
The whole reason for having this party is as an excuse to invite Dante.

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