The menu has been occupying Shira's thoughts all week. She has written and rewritten it six-seven times - maybe 10, if you count those jotted in the margins of the brief she's been preparing. She can't seem to be satisfied with either, though the deadline for both is fast approaching.
The legal document carries more weight. Or at least it should, considering it is her chance to shine at the office - to stand out among the interns and pave the way for an illustrious career. One that involves her being the youngest woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Unless she's appointed attorney-general or justice minister first.
In the meantime, she's got to get through the fateful event.
She's never been much of a cook. Certainly not the conventional sort. Though, when she and her roommates would whip up pot-luck meals, she was the one with the reputation for being able to make do with few ingredients - and produce an interesting dish. Which may be fine for a gathering of 'the girls' - who in any case were and still are in awe of Shira's overall talents and skills. But it definitely would not suffice in what she thinks of as the 'real world' - where she craves to take her rightful place.
If Yaron's parents had not been such prominent members of that 'real world,' Shira realizes, she wouldn't be wasting more of her precious energy on planning a dinner than on completing a work assignment. Had they been people like her own mother and father, she'd be taking this whole Friday-night thing in stride. It is not every day, however, that a district court judge and renowned torts professor (whose textbook she can practically recite by rote) grace her table. Nor is it every day that a couple she hopes to turn into her allies for the purpose of getting Yaron to marry her comes for supper.
Shira has gleaned that Yaron and his parents have a relationship that in no way resembles her own family dynamics. Whereas Shira has always been the star of her household - the only one with a university degree and the acquired poise of a person pawing his way out of the lower class - Yaron has spent his life trying to grow into, if not fill, two pairs of very large shoes. So, while it would never occur to Shira to seek parental advice or approval on anything, Yaron rarely makes a move without making a pilgrimage to the parental altar.
Being of keen intuition and street smarts, Shira ascertained from the minute she met him that though the key to capturing the attentions of the 'good catch' in question was in her one-bedroom rental in a gentrifying slum near Jaffa, that which guaranteed opening the door to her future was lodged in a villa in Savyon.
Not that money was the motive. On the contrary, Shira never lacked for cash, nor feared she ever would. Her father's garage is as lucrative a business as her job options are abundant. But affluence does not aristocracy make. And Shira always envied people like Yaron who, rather than sitting down to watch the news with their parents, would sit down to watch their parents appear on it.
SHIRA PRINTS out yet another copy of the incomplete brief, and rushes to wrest it from the hands of the secretary. If there's one thing she can't stand, it is having anyone lay eyes on her works in progress. Returning to her computer, she reads over the first page and sighs. Once again, the menu is invading her consciousness and interfering with her concentration. She tells herself that she'd better settle on a meal-plan once and for all if she has any intention of bringing the brief up to par by tomorrow afternoon. On the other hand, she thinks, getting the brief out of the way would free her up to tackle the less pressing - albeit more emotionally trying - task.
Distracted by this dilemma, and by the decisions that have been disrupting her sleep for the past few nights, Shira slips into daydreaming mode. Doodling aimlessly on her desk diary, she envisions greeting the guests she is determined to have as in-laws. She imagines conversing with them about the Friedmann-Mazuz feud over the procedure for appointing attorneys-general, and wowing them with her politically correct position on the issue. 'The justice minister is undermining the Supreme Court,' she will say, making sure to qualify her statement with a dig at the stature of its president, Dorit Beinisch.
She fantasizes the phone call they will make to their son the following morning. 'Shira's a keeper,' they will say. As a result, she is sure, Yaron will not only glow with pride, but picture his life with her in a more concrete way - going so far, perhaps, as to conceptualize a husband-and-wife law practice. One whose clientele is as prestigious as its case load is heavy. This Friday night, Shira sighs with excited anticipation, will be the start of her grand entrance into the 'real world' and onto the pages of the gossip columns.
THE VIBRATION of her cell phone in the pocket of her designer jacket startles Shira out of her reverie. Reaching for the instrument, she clears her throat.
'Yes?' she answers in the tone she labels 'professional.'
'It's me,' Yaron laughs, understanding that she hadn't looked at her caller ID.
'Oh, hi,' she says. 'I was just going over the menu...'
'About that,' he interrupts. 'Add two more people to that dinner.'
'For whom?' Shira panics at the prospect of having to rethink the courses yet again.
'Your parents,' Yaron says, enthusiastically.
'Whaaat?' Shira nearly explodes along with the dreams she sees going up in smoke. All she needs is to have her roots showing before making an indelible impression.
'Yeah,' Yaron says, slightly embarrassed. 'I thought I could butter up your father, so that he'd consider taking me in as a partner in the garage when we get married.'