Sweetie and I, as you may know, are sartorially splendid. Sweetie with his closet full of golf shirts and khakis, me with my flowy tops and t-shirts, jeans and puffy pants, we set fashion trends wherever we go. So in planning our trip to France, we wanted to be sure we measured up. Well, I did. Frankly, Sweetie didn’t care. Which I suspect contributes to his “je ne sais quoi”.
First, a bit of background. At home, we have a his and hers closet. His third consists of a top rack of golf shirts in a wide array of colours… tan, beige, light beige, dark beige, medium beige, beige with white stripes, a couple of navy shirts, a white one and I think there’s a black one in the back somewhere. On the bottom rack, there are khakis and variations of khakis. Tan, beige, light beige……
He has four pairs of shoes. Two pairs of slip-ons (brown and black), a pair of black dress oxfords and a pair of white running shoes. Oh, and six pairs of golf shoes. But those, like accessories, don’t count. He also has one dark suit, two dress shirts and a ratty, tweedy sport coat that’s at least 15 years old. Which he loves and won’t let me send to the Good Will.
On my side of the closet, and the closets in the home office and the guest room, are a wide variety of shirts, suits, pants, etc etc. And a few dozen pairs of shoes. Yes, it’s more than I need but you never know.
Nonetheless, on preparing for our trip to France, we needed to shop. For Sweetie. No, he could not wear his white running shoes. And if we wanted decent service in good French restaurants, then a new sports coat would be required. I managed to convince him to buy some good dark walking shoes and a nice light weight sport coat. Which he had yet to wear while we were in Paris for the first leg of our trip.
Sweetie is now convinced that he has started a fashion trend. Of golf shirts and khakis. We saw them everywhere in Paris. No problems with getting service as we were warned. Parisians love my sweetie. But of course it might be his trendy new black walking shoes.
As for me, I have taken to heart the trend to drapy pants and tee-shirts and scarves tossed carelessly yet artfully around the neck and shoulder. So Parisian am I that at least once (well, only once) have I been addressed in French and have not been immediately assumed to be American. Yesterday was another matter.
I dressed carefully. Black puffy pants, white drapy t-shirt, scarf with the de rigueur toss and the cross body purse in a contrast colour. So French was I that all was going well until we entered a restaurant for lunch. As I chirped, “Bonjour!” with confidence, I tried to remove the cross body purse. It got tangled on the carelessly tossed scarf. I stood there trying to disentangle the knot, making it worse. When it seemed I was at risk of strangulation, the server took pity and moved to my assistance. Between the two of us, we eventually untangled the scarf purse mess. She had switched to English by now and carefully and slowly explained to us the menu. She brought us extra beverage refills and recommended a wonderful dessert which she offered to share with us. It was as if we were two slightly demented children. I say we because you may have noticed that Sweetie was not mentioned in the scarf-purse disentanglement. He was laughing maniacally throughout the entire episode.
Today, we moved on. Took the train to Caen, found our way to our lovely little hotel on the outskirts of town. The hotel is really an excuse for the restaurant which is run by Chef Ivan Vautier. We reserved a table for dinner and it was, without a doubt, the best meal we’ve had so far in France. From the hors d’oeuvres of some sort of peanut butter macaroon and mascarpone cream to an appetizer of white tuna, whipped mozzarella and aubergine and tomato sorbet, to the main course of rack of lamb with puréed mint and carrots, figs and currants, dessert of tiny apples with Calvados and vanilla sorbet, we sighed over every bite.
And we were, of course, our usual stylish selves. Sweetie wore his new sports coat and spiffy shoes, I wore my trendy white shirt and black pants. All was going so well. Until our waiter came by to turn on the glow lamp at the table. It was shaped like an egg. Reminiscent of Beldar Conehead from Saturday Night Live. That was it. Sweetie couldn’t resist. It was on his head, glowing purple, the moment the waiter walked away. The woman at the table next to us snickered. Then Sweetie insisted I too put the cone on my head.
I fear we will never acquire the style of the French.