You are cordially invited to participate in a progressive dinner party on Wisteria Lane, the evening of Saturday the 22nd.
"Let's have a progressive!" Lynnette said in a cheery, high-pitched voice. "It'll be so simple! Just one-sixth of the workload of a normal holiday party!" She took another swipe at the breakfast table with her damp cloth.
"That has to be the worst imitation of Bree Van De Camp I've ever heard." Tom reached over and kissed Lynnette's forehead. "I'm sorry I can't be here to help, but you'll do fine."
"No, Tom," Lynnette said. "You call the office and you tell them that they can't have you! You can't go on a trip now, it's Christmas Eve!"
"It's two days before Christmas Eve," he said. "I'll be back tomorrow."
"It's Christmas Eve Eve's Eve!" Lynnette said, clutching Tom's lapels. "Tell them how you're leaving your eight children at home with your poor wife."
"We have three kids, Lynnette."
"But they collectively have the energy of eight. Tom. No. It's the last minute, the progressive is tonight, the house is a mess, and I can't--"
"You have to," he said gently, removing her fingers from his lapel. "I have to."
Lynnette released her husband. "Fine," she said. "But you'll regret it when you hear how rip-roaring drunk I got without you."
Tom grinned and kissed her good-bye.
"You think I'm kidding," she said to his retreating back.
Stop One: Scavo House. Enjoy Lynnette's crab and brie phyllo amouse-bouche and apéritif!
The Van De Camps were prompt to the point of being early. Bree and Rex stood at her front door--Bree holding a poinsettia and smiling, Rex looking vaguely like his collar was choking him.
"Uh, come on in," Lynnette said, holding her Swiffer in one hand. "I'm just doing a bit of spot-mopping."
"Where can I put the poinsettia?" Bree asked.
"Dining room table, please; the boys never go in there, and otherwise I'm afraid they'll eat it."
"Right," Bree said, and moved gracefully off to the other corner of the house.
Rex followed Lynnette into her kitchen, where she applied the mop to a few last sticky drops of... well, she hoped it was soy sauce. "There. Much better," Lynnette said, removing the mop cloth and throwing it in the trash.
Rex looked doubtfully at the floor. "This is better?"
Lynnette's cheeks flushed, and she stared at Rex for a moment. But before she could lay into him, Bree returned from the dining room, crossed to the sink and washed her hands. And then the doorbell rang.
Mary Alice kindly stepped into Tom's shoes and poured the apéritifs, while Lynnette circulated the canapés. Lynnette felt obligated to finish the bottle of Kir before they left; Carlos Solis felt similarly obligated in regards to the crab and brie in phyllo dough.
Stop Two: Salad at the Solis House!
Yao Lin served them endive salad with walnuts and roquefort and slivers of onion tart.
Lynnette started out with one glass of muscadet; when Rex caught her eye, she repressed the impulse to climb over the marble table and strangle him with his tie by downing a second glass.
The muscadet was really excellent. Carlos certainly knew his wine.
Stop Three: Soup du Young
French onion soup. Red wine.
Mary Alice had slightly underestimated the appetites of Mrs. Huber and Edie Britt's new boyfriend, so by the time she made it around to Lynnette, there was only half a bowl left.
Mary Alice smiled apologetically; Lynnette grinned reassuringly. More wine than soup? Fine with her.
Stop Four: Terrine de Saumon aux Epinard et Riz Spécial, Chez Van De Camp
Bree's terrine was the climax of the progression--all the other hostesses knew better than to try to compete, and most were glad to let her have the spotlight.
The buzzing in Lynnette's ears had grown to the point that she did not take note of the name of the dry white wine that Bree served with her perfect terrine. After the entrée, she toddled off to the powder room, and toddled back via the kitchen, where she poured herself another glass of wine and stared at Bree's sparkling floors.
"Fuck you, Rex," she muttered into her glass.
Stop Five: The Mayers Host the Cheese Course
There was no way even Susan could mess up putting cheese on plates and red wine in glasses. That had been the general thinking when assigning her the cheese.
The full-bodied wine--certainly rich enough to compete with the powerful cheeses--just made Lynnette need to pee again. She excused herself from the casual milling about and went in search of the half-bath. Naturally, it was occupied. She slowly climbed the stairs, found the main bathroom occupied, and then, on top of that, found the master bathroom occupied as well.
She sank down onto Karl and Susan's bed, and crossed her legs.
"Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee," she sang quietly.
Singing it didn't make it less true.
In the bathroom, she heard the small noises of someone going about something, but not the all-important whir of toilet paper coming off the roll, or the sploosh of flushing, or the sounds of water running--
"Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee!" she chanted, louder now.
Still no sounds of imminent exit from the bathroom.
"Got. To. Pee!" Lynnette called.
"I heard you the first time you started singing it," a voice yelled back.
"Well. It doesn't make it less true. What are you doing in there? Masturbating?"
Happily, an angry snort was followed by the gurgle of a flushing toilet and running water.
Rex came out, collar undone and tie askew, shaking water off his hands. "No towels," he said.
"Great," Lynnette said, and brushed past him into the bathroom.
She took care of business, and came back out, fluttering her fingers to dry them.
Rex was there, sitting on Karl and Susan's bed, head in his hands. He looked up.
"I told you about the towels."
"Sure, but. Was I not going to wash my hands?"
Rex shrugged, put his head back in his hands.
Lynnette stood there hesitantly for a moment, then blurted, "I don't know why it seems like you can drink and drink and drink and not have to go to the bathroom, but then suddenly, you pee once and you have to go and go and go."
Rex looked up. "Breaking the seal, we called it in college. Once you break the seal..."
"Yeah," Lynnette said, smiling. "You can't go back."
"No," he said, quietly. "You can't go back."
Through the fog that had once been her short-term memory, Lynnette grasped for the reason that she was angry with Rex. She couldn't quite recall it, however, and he looked so forlorn that she just plopped down on the bed beside him and put an arm around his shoulders.
To her great surprise, he turned his face to her hair and embraced her. One great, wracking sob convulsed him, and his tears leaked hotly onto her neck.
"There, there. It's that time of year," Lynnette said. "It does this to all of us."
Rex was silent so long that Lynnette didn't think he would answer. She held him and rubbed his back and waited. He smelled like aftershave and wine--and Chanel no. 5, Bree's perfume.
"It's not this time of year. It's all times of year," Rex said.
"Bree loves you so--" Lynnette began.
"No," he said harshly, and his arms shook with tension, as though he were both trying to push her away and pull her closer. "I don't want to talk about her." And then Rex released Lynnette. "You smell like her," he said.
"No, you smell like her," Lynnette said. "I wear Chanel no. 22."
Bree called Rex's name from downstairs and Lynnette stood up. "I'll go tell her that you're in the bathroom," she said, straightening her skirt.
Rex said nothing.
Stop Six: Dessert à la Edie
Chocolate torte that Edie hadn't even taken out of the box from the grocery store.
Lynnette couldn't decide whether to stop drinking altogether or to take a whole bottle into a dark corner. In the end, she just settled on having one glass to accompany a large strawberry.
She watched Bree, flame-bright, working the crowd.
On the other side of the room, Rex stood on the edge of a group of men and drank Scotch, saying nothing.
Stop Seven: Coffee with Mrs. Huber
Mrs. Huber didn't serve alcohol with the coffee, though she went on at some length about how she'd had every intention of making Irish coffees, but she thought everyone needed to sober up. Lynnette couldn't see why, exactly; no one was driving home, and it seemed fairly obvious that the only way to get out of this progressive dinner alive was to go limp like a drunk in a car accident.
Mrs. Huber saw them all to the door after only twenty minutes. Edie Britt and her boy-toy peeled away from the main group immediately and returned to her house.
Carlos said, "I say you all come over and have a nightcap at our place."
No one demurred.
The Unofficial Nightcap
Martinis and cosmos were the order of the night. Gabrielle and Susan watched while their husbands manned the wetbar, hamming it up as The Karl and Carlos Show. Bree got into an earnest discussion about bunting with Mary Alice, and Paul ran back across the street to check on Zach.
Rex slipped away.
Lynnette followed, and found him staring out the window at the sparkling Christmas lights of Wisteria Lane.
"I'm sorry," Rex said.
"For making you feel bad about your kitchen floor. It's fine. Honestly. I'm just so--." He stopped.
"Oh," Lynnette said. Then, "Just tell her."
"Tell her what?"
"Whatever it is that's making you unhappy. You should just tell her."
Rex stared at her for a long moment, and Lynnette thought he might say something to her, something real.
Instead, a bright, false smile took his face. "What makes you think I'm unhappy?"
Lynnette drained her cosmo. "We're all unhappy, chum. Some of us just know how to share the burden."
He walked away, and she watched him go.