Tuesday, June 2, 2015

You're So Vein(y)

It's all my fault. I got my car washed for the first time in four years and Mother Nature reacted swiftly and harshly.

The major thunder that announced the late afternoon storm rolling through was enough to get anyyone's attention. I heard the warnings and sat on standby in my living room and once the wind picked up and the rain began, I was busy closing every window in my apartment, all of which were open. Sirens soon screamed outside.

It's a cool thing to experience a storm from the protected confines of your second story living room overlooking bending trees, flooding curbs and horizontal rain. It was a front row seat for nature's June wrath.

But once all that mess passed by, it was time for me to head out. Plainly put, it had been too long since I'd eavesdropped. Getting dressed to the radio -Junior Walker and the All Stars "What Does It Take to Win Your Love" followed improbably and perfectly by Lucinda Williams - I decided on Secco for my evening's pleasures.

The only available stool at the bar was sandwiched between two women on a girls' night out and a trio I recognized from other restaurants. Go out enough and you'll see repeats. I squeezed in.

Since Monday is Flight Night at Secco, how could I not opt for a trio of small pours? When they arrived, the two women next to me were agog, curious about these three beauties awaiting my attention. I schooled them on Flight Night and both gamely asked their server for the dealer's choice flight, preferably different from each other.

I could just imagine their banter: My flight's better than your flight.

They got right into the spirit of things, making a sharp left from whatever they'd been drinking before. I've no idea what their flights were, but my flight ranged from 2014 Domaine Brazilier Rose to 2013 Coing Muscadet to 2014 Gilbert Menetou-Saion, a flight that took me places.

Just as we were bonding over their cheese and meat plate, a more spacious stool opened up at the far end of the bar. Bidding them farewell, I took off for more roomy quarters.

There, I ordered confit tuna ragu with heirloom white beans (cooked so perfectly they still had some snap to the skin) followed by lamb sirloin with toothsome peas, just firm enough carrots, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and a brilliant beet motarda in which to swipe every bite.

As I'm tucking into this embarrassment of good eating lost in a reverie of smell and taste, I become aware of the couple next to me and their conversation. It sounds like a first date based on the basic information kind of questions he's asking her.

Where did she grow up? Where has she traveled? Where does she live now? What's coming across loud and clear is that she sounds years younger than he does, both in content and phrasing.

After she's mentioned visiting France, he asks if she went to Shakespeare & Co. while she was in Paris.


When she demonstrates some of the French skills used on her trip ("I could only say, "Je ne parle pas Francaise and parlez-vous Anglasis?" and when they said no, I started crying"), he condescendingly shares that he's a wizard with languages and that her pronunciation problem is attributable to nerves. They get up to leave.

All of a sudden, another thunderstorm announces itself and anyone in the restaurant who was even considering leaving decides to stay, including the dynamic duo next to me.

He slides off to the loo and she turns to me, all smiles. "You have beautiful veins on your hands," she says, apropos of nothing. Shocked at such an odd compliment, I tell her no one's ever told me such a thing.

"They may never again," she says, admitting that having heavily veined hands since a young age has made her appreciate veins. She taps the one near her elbow, saying she was praised at the doctor today for her fine veins. I'm only vaguely uncomfortable when she starts eyeing my veins.

Fierce lightening gets our attention and she leans in to tell me that I may think she's weird, but she doesn't use umbrellas. Amazed that anyone would choose to get drenched rather than carry one, I ask why. Seems she can't find the exact type she wants.

Eschewing traditional round shapes, she wants a U-shaped umbrella, the kind that comes down to your shoulders. So you want a clear umbrella then? No, she wants a solid color. Politely, I remind her that with a solid color U-shaped umbrella, she won't be able to see a thing.

"That's okay, people can just watch out for me," she says blithely.

I'm a little bit at a loss when someone says something so inane, so I turned back to my food. In need of more wine, I had it on reliable authority that I'd love Domaine de Bagnol Cassis Rose, a tiny producer, and ordered a glass of that. Sipping the gorgeous wine, I got caught up in their conversation again.

Can you look away from a train wreck?

He was talking about women with unfortunate mustaches and beards and how unappealing it was to see a woman with so much hair on her body. I saw him shudder at the idea of a woman with underarm hair.

 "I can't imagine a woman with all that hair," he said.

"I can," she retorted. "If I didn't wax a lot, it would be pretty unattractive." I like her honesty, but I also see that if this is a first date, any chance of a second is fading fast.

But then she turns back to me, introduces herself and compliments my skin. Thanking her, I suggest she make wise choices now so she'll like her skin when she's older. Her reply is to remove her jacket and show me the painful looking sunburn on her shoulders and back from gardening yesterday for five hours with no sunscreen on.

Ouch, but it's none of my business. Disengage, Karen, disengage.

Back in my own world, I chose chocolate cake with ganache, vanilla bean cream and berries for dessert, finally noticing the hip hop soundtrack that has unobtrusively begun as part of Hip hop Mondays at Secco. When C & C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now" comes on, the handsome server comments that it's too pop to qualify for true hip hop. Where's Mos Def, he wonders?

I have no answers, especially hip hop answers. Now, if you'd asked me what does it take to win your love, I'd have been overflowing with answers. But no one's asking me that.

All I know is I've had a memorable meal and some terrific wines while listening in on some of the least likely date conversation imaginable.

And I have great veins.


  1. -- on a side note, the last time I visited Shakespeare & Co. was about a decade ago. The proprietor was out wandering around in his PJ's obviously not in a coherent state of mind. I dare say, due to his age that he is still with us. Maybe his family has assumed the business.

    As for viens....yes I suppose. Erotica takes many avenues. Perhaps your acquittance was Transylvanian in nature?


  2. Could be! She certainly gazed longingly at my veins...