Chapter I

"Honestly, Alan, you are such a wet blanket! What is wrong with a party?" Denny was admonishing his husband of almost three years as they headed back to Boston in the back of their limousine. "It's our third anniversary for cripe's sake; a party is the perfect way to celebrate!"

Alan sighed and stared out the window. Dave the chauffeur had just taken the turnoff onto I – 91 to Hartford. They had just spent five days in Manhattan; going to the theater, dining at some of New York's best restaurants and meeting with some of Denny's investment brokers. They had only been on the road home for a little over an hour. I have a feeling this might be a long ride.

"Denny," Alan began, "I really do not want a party. You and I have spent a glorious week in New York and besides, why throw a party for a three year anniversary? A one year or a five year, okay, but three years isn't much of milestone."

"I disagree," the older man responded as he poured scotch from a cut crystal decanter into two crystal glasses. He handed one to Alan and continued, "This year is a huge milestone. Have you forgotten that you turned 50 this year?"

Alan swallowed some of his liquor and grimaced. "I was trying to, thanks for reminding me."

Denny grunted and smiled. "Well, do you remember that I turned 80 this year?"

"No, you didn't! You're 29 years older than I am, Denny; and that means you turn 80 next January."

"Well," Denny growled, "it sounds a helluva lot better to say that you turned 50 and I turned 80 in the same year. That plus our wedding anniversary is reason for a party. I'm Denny Crane! I can change my birth year if I want!"

"I certainly can't argue with that," Alan responded drolly before he returned his attention to the scenery moving by as Dave merged onto I -84 to Boston. We're making good time, he thought. His eyes wandered in Denny's direction and he caught the man studying him over his drink. "Is there anything I can say to make you drop this party idea?"

"No. Think about it, Alan; we spend almost all of our time together. We haven't even seenCarl and Shirley in four or five months. And, when's the last time we had drinks with Katie and Jerry?"

Shrugging his shoulders, Alan replied, "I concede the point. We don't spend a lot of time with our friends, but if I may present a counterargument, they have not seen us either and by that I mean our lives are taking us in different directions. Without Crane Poole and Schmidt in common, we don't see each other as much."

"Denny, I like spending most of my time with you. That is why I haven't started my Legal Aid practice yet; I'm enjoying myself and our marriage. To be honest, I can hardly believe it's almost three years since we said 'I do.'"

"However, you make a valid point: We have not socialized lately and as a proper Boston Brahmin couple, that is unacceptable so, I suggest a compromise. Our anniversary, December 8th is a Saturday this year and I want to enjoy a quiet dinner at home with you. If you agree, then we can have a big end – of – year blowout the following Saturday to celebrate our birthdays, our anniversary and anything else you want to throw into the mix. We can use the occasion to invite all our friends and acquaintances and fulfill all our social obligations. What do you say?"

"Okay, we can do that," Denny said, "Sounds like a plan. I've got six weeks to plan our dinner. Don't worry; I'll take care of everything."

BLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBL

Denny was on the phone with Shirley a few days later telling her about his plan to have a surprise anniversary party on December 8th for Alan.

"It's going to be great! I've already gotten one of the bands that we used to use for the company Christmas parties and I've got Rodeo and Olympia working with the caterers. He doesn't suspect a thing!"

He heard a long exasperated sigh come through the phone. "Denny, I have to tell you: This is not a good idea. Alan is not like you; he doesn't say no when he means yes. If he told you he just wants a small, intimate dinner with you on December 8th then that is what he wants. You're making a mistake if you think otherwise."

"Alan is going to be fine with this, Shirley, you'll see. Just tell me you and Carl will come."

"Oh, we'll be there. Somebody has to play referee when the sparks start to fly. It might as well be Carl and me. Denny, I really wish you would reconsider."

Even though she could not see him, Denny waved his hand in the air dismissively. "My mind is made up. This party is happening."

"But, Denny…"

"Shirley, you are wrong and I'm not discussing it further. I'm looking forward to seeing you and Carl on December 8th. I'll talk to you later. Bye," he said curtly before hanging up.

Shirley looked at the receiver in her hand as she shook her head slowly. As she placed it back into the phone's cradle, she noticed Carl standing in the doorway of their den watching her. "Trouble in 'Craneville?'" he asked.

She went to him and placed a small kiss on his lips. "Not yet, but there is going to be." She filled him in on her conversation with Denny and ended by saying, "He is completely convinced that when Alan walks in and sees all of us, he will be swept up into a joyous celebration of life and forget all about not wanting company."

Carl took her hand and led the way to their bedroom. "Are you sure we should go? It sounds like you think it's going to get ugly."

Shirley laughed as she began to unbutton her husband's shirt. "Not without us it's not! There is no way in the world we are missing that party."