It’s important for every Stay At Home Mother to have a handsome, extremely wealthy and entirely platonic friend to whisk her off to dinner at a flash restaurant every now and then – as has become the custom between me and old friend and two-time housemate, The Dashing Solicitor (The DS), during his annual visit to these shores.
Whenever I get wined and dined in such extravagant fashion, I end up feeling a little like Dorothy waking up in Oz. Or even like Julia Roberts going shopping for the first time on Rodeo Drive in “Pretty Woman” – but without the sexual, ethical and legal complications in the relationship with my patron, I should hasten to add. But then again, ol’ Julia was quite the Class Act in an 80s trashy kind of way in the film’s restaurant scene. Unfortunately for my dining companion, I get all giggly and silly and start squealing when the waiter mentions words like “oysters” and “french champagne”. And then I end up talking about my children a lot. And you should all know by now that when I say “a lot” that I mean “a lot a lot”. Which makes me wonder why the DS takes me out in the first place. Still, I’m glad that he does.
The last time the DS was in town, he took me to La Restaurant du Jour where we ate oysters, drank champagne and ordered wagyu steak served with pomme frites cooked in goose fat. Goose fat! Which probably goes some way in explaining why geese are so angry all the time because they know it would be Just Plain Wrong for them to partake in such fine tasting chips. And then there was a dessert, which shall remain nameless in fear that just typing its name will add another half-inch to my waist line. So, all in all, a superb meal accompanied by some Grade A People Watching.
At the table next to us, there was a man wearing a pink and white pinstriped shirt, jeans and loafers without a hint of irony. I was incredibly disappointed that he didn’t ever pull a mobile phone the size of a house-brick out of his briefcase and start shouting “Sell, sell, sell!”. I mean, if you’re going to do these things, you may as well do them properly. Sheesh!
It turns out that ol’ Mr Pinstripes was one of those people who liked to use the names of the waiting staff and the nice little accordion player in the corner at every opportunity. Maybe it made him feel like a Big Man in front of his dinner companions. Perhaps he’d just read “How To Win Friends and Influence People” and genuinely wanted to become their friend. Or maybe he was worried, like I would be, that he’d forget their names if he didn’t use them constantly.
Anyway, every time the nice accordion player finished one of his songs, Mr Pinstripes would shout stuff like “Bravo, George!”. Now, whether or not “George” was inspired or pissed off by this, I do not know. In any case, he began to deviate quite wildly from the standard french bistro playlist.
At one point, I stopped my kid-yabbering to listen.
“Isn’t that ‘Walking on the Moon’ by the Police?” I asked the DS. And it was.
And then, on my way back from the loo, I caught the strains of “Click Go The Shears, Boys”, an old Australian bush song.
“Wow, I wonder if he does requests,” I wondered.
The DS and I workshopped some other Aussie classics he might like to do – such as “Hey there you with the sad face”, “Come, said the boy” and “Khe Sahn”, with the lyrics “There ain’t nothing like the kisses/From a jaded Chinese princess/I’m gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long.”
So after that, every time Mr Pinstripes shouted “Well done, George!”, the DS would shout out “Khe Sahn! Khe Sahn!”
It was all I could do to stop myself from taking up smoking on the spot so I’d have a lighter to wave above my head. Although, having said that, I’m told that the youth of today prefer to use their lit-up mobile phones instead, which is oh-so-very Rock and Roll if you think about it.
Now, I’m not sure if the DS noticed this but I certainly noted that the amount of attention that we were getting from the staff had dropped quite considerably by the end of the meal. Whether this was because we had quickly polished off a bottle of champagne and red wine, were heckling the Talent, or weren’t using their names enough, I’ll never know.
But I certainly like to think that, whenever I go to these schmancy places, I bring a little of the “wrong side of the river” with me and show ’em all how the other half live.
And to the DS: Jusqu’à la prochaine année, mon bon ami. And “Khe Sahn!!”.