Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fashionably Late

When it's your thing, you get to do what you want to do.

That meant my Sunday began with a rarity - hosting lunch at my house, complete with a bouquet of black-eyed Susans in the middle of the dining room table - and a nerdy indulgence: seeing the documentary "Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times" at the air conditioned VMFA.

That the near capacity crowd leaned 90% female mattered not to my non-alpha male companion, who, like me, is a documentary dork and was also eager to learn more about the man behind the designer.

Because YSL himself had been interviewed extensively, there were all kinds of intimate revelations, from his longing to be a beatnik (don't we all?) to the fact that his father never acknowledged his son was gay (in the interview with his mother, she says she knew, but her husband traveled a lot for business, so there didn't seem to be any point in telling him).

But the piece-de-resistance had to be the 3-year old Yves telling his great aunt to go change her dress before they went out...and she did. When he was hired as Christian Dior's assistant and his mother was coming to meet Dior, he also had final say on her ensemble.

That's talent the boy was born with.

Unlike a more typical American film, the pace was slow and measured (like YSL himself) with full admissions about his depression and addictions, with plenty of self doubt thrown in.

And always, those fabulous couture collections that he managed to design during two 2-week periods every year. In one outdoor scene, a series of models walk by, each dressed like the epitome of the swingin' modern '60s woman and so very different from the more constrained gender roles of the '50s.

It was a fascinating film that should have sent anyone in the audience who hadn't already seen the YSL exhibit (don't look at me) directly to it.

How is it this person arrived on earth so fully formed in his fashion sense? I was 40 before I had a clue what worked for me fashion-wise - and a lot of bad choices before that - and I'm still playing catch-up in some respects (jeans, scarves, jewelry) even now.

It wasn't hard to wile away the late afternoon or choose a place for an early dinner and when we pulled up to Metzger, who should we see heading in for dinner but one of the couples we'd recently shared a beach house with. Now it was a party.

Despite the shades being down, the sun had positioned itself so that all of the restaurant's windows were taking the brunt of the heat and things heated up as we sipped Anton Bauer Rose and chatted. They'd just come from Sub Rosa and seeing Miramar, which was exactly what we'd done last Sunday.

Small world.

But it was my date's first Metzger outing, so I had to introduce him to the myriad pleasures of it, beginning with Mr. Fine Wine providing the killer vintage soul soundtrack. Looking around to take it all in, he was impressed with a cleaver on the wall and intrigued by the bandoleer of Underberg singles.

The menu had been updated only the day before and maybe that's why the corn soup with crab and speck tasted like the corn had been in the field yesterday. The milky broth was sublime by itself, but in my world, everything's better with with crab and the speck provided a beautiful salty note to contrast with the sweetness of the corn and crab.

Mr. First Timer felt the siren song of a special of pork loin and I encouraged him since Metzger is magic with meat, while I had an heirloom tomato salad (the tops of the slices bruleed for a sweet note) with peaches, tarragon and seeded granola in buttermilk dressing.

In other words, a plate of summer.

Plenty of other familiar faces showed up - the IT whiz and his wife in a cute ticking jump suit, the dancer, the musician, the Italian I hadn't seen in ages - and then our beach friends moved on just as our black forest bombe (cherry ice cream over chocolate cake covered in hard chocolate with brandy cream) arrived.

A dessert so rich we couldn't finish it provided a splendid introduction for the Metzger virgin to the digestif Underberg, so we ordered two of the little single-serve bottles labeled with the promise: "To feel bright and alert" and took our dose of herbal bitters clocking in at 44%.

Those little empty bottles used to be found scattered on the floor during Mr. Fine Wine dance parties, but now that those have stopped, Underberg can be appreciated for its true purpose: settling an overly-full belly after a protracted and indulgent meal.

And while we briefly toyed with the idea of going to a show, it sounded just as appealing to sit on the balcony, listen to Brazil '66  followed by Isaac Hayes and watch heat lightening until the rain arrived.

Because bright and alert is in the eye of the beholders.

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