Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Conjugating Some Irregular Verbs

As travel posters go, it was succinct: If you love life, you'll love France.

And if I want to see a classic Hitchcock movie for the first time, the Byrd is the place to see it. But the starting point for tonight's outing wasn't a movie, it was a lecture, "The Art of Jewelry through the Ages," which just happened to be at the Byrd Theater and just happened to include a screening of Hitch's "To Catch a Thief."

Since I've only been wearing jewelry for a just over a year, you can bet I wasn't the one who noticed the lecture was happening. But Pru did, rounding up her jewelry-making mother, Beau and I for an evening devoted to personal ornamentation and sparkly things.

Naturally, she planned for the evening to begin with dinner, which is how we landed at Spoonbread Bistro for a butter and bacon-soaked meal not long after they opened their doors. Early enough that the piped-in music didn't even come on until after we were seated.

The happy couple was feeling autumnal and wanted a bottle of Bouchard Pere et Fils Reserve Pinot Noir, but I'm still lamenting summer's recent departure and instead opted for Treveri Sparkling Gewurztraminer. By itself, it was underwhelming but once the amuse bouche of creamy crab and salmon on an edible spoon showed up, it showed its true colors as a lovely food wine.

It had been six months since I'd last eaten there and the menu was identical, so choosing what I wanted took some time. Our meal was obscene, as meals at Spoonbread tend to be, with Beau and I each starting with a special of roasted beets over greens in a blood-orange vinaigrette with a golf ball-sized round of cashewed goat cheese.

My seared scallops over corn pudding with bacon drizzle were as rich as I remembered, while I also managed to score bites of Pru's steak and lobster and Beau's sea bass. As for the jewelry maker's rockfish with butter-poached lobster tail, well, that never made it to my side of the table, not that I needed it.

Dinner conversation revolved around #me, too because Pru had noticed my status and reminded me of a conversation the four of us had a year or so ago when Beau had been surprised to learn that all three of us had been sexually harassed or assaulted.

We discussed men's role in all this and Beau stated for the record that he did not want to speak as a representative for his people. I can't blame him.

After sipping, eating and gabbing so long - Pru insisted I taste the Pinot Noir -  we were suddenly in a hurry to make it to the Byrd in time for the lecture and film, both part of Artober, a month-long celebration of art all over town.

The womenfolk were barely in our (comfortable, wide, new) seats while Beau parked the car when we struck up a conversation with the woman two seats down. Pru explained that we were waiting for a man to buy us sweets and the woman, already munching on Snowcaps, sniffed and said, "Usually I make more money than the men I date, so I buy my own."

Lucky for us, we didn't have to because Beau was so gracious as to supply us with buttered popcorn and Milk Duds to tide us over, not that any of us were the least bit hungry. It's more about a Pavlovian response to being in a movie theater.

Tonight's event was sponsored by Carreras Jewelers and cards were handed to each attendee for 10% off a purchase - as if I ever bought any jewelry new - and Bygones, next door to the Byrd.

A Carreras jeweler took us through a fascinating slide show on the history of jewelry, tracing it from the Neolithic period to Greek and Roman times through the Egyptians and the Renaissance, while stressing why jewelry was so desirable: it was made of precious things, it was decorative and, early on, rare.

I was fascinated to learn that originally, jewelry was worn only at night when the light of candles made it look extremely sparkly. He told us about sentimental jewelry (with human hair woven into it...blech) and mourning jewelry (and, by the way, in the 19th century, women were expected to mourn for 2 years while men got off with 6 months...the gender disparities go back to the big bang, apparently).

He got us up to the 1920s and Art Nouveau before the owner of Bygones took over, sharing the history of costume jewelry in the 20th century, notable because it was then that jewelry began to be thought of as art rather than as a sign of wealth.

Whew, otherwise I still wouldn't be wearing it.

Coco Chanel helped turn the tide on that. And, in a nice segue to the film, she told us that the jewelry shown in "To Catch a Thief" had become available in department stores once the movie came out. Not that any of it would look like it did on Grace Kelly, but an Eisenhower-era woman could hope, couldn't she?

Then it was time for the film and, to our amazement, half the audience left because the lecture was over. Who walks out of a chance to see a free Hitchcock movie set in France on the big screen?

Neanderthals, that's who.

Manager Todd introduced the film, reminding us that Hitch filmed his murder scenes like love scenes and his love scenes like murder scenes. "Story of my life," Pru whispered. The woman cracks me up.

I'd been under the mistaken impression that I'd seen this movie before, but not long in, I realized it was all new to me. From the opening shot of a travel agency window full of wonderful mid-century travel posters (talk about art!) to a woman's cotton bathing suit that zipped up the back, it was an ode to another time.

In fact, all the costumes were fabulous because Edith Head designed them and what doesn't look good on Grace Kelly? Even her roadster was beautiful.

Of course, the best part of the story was the budding romance between the one-time jewelry thief and the gorgeous rich girl with attitude. Well, that and seeing Cary Grant in swimming trunks. Oh, yes, and the banter, that was excellent.

You're here in Europe to buy a husband.
The man I want doesn't have a price.
That eliminates me.

Only after the movie came to its logical 1955 solution - love with the promise of marriage - did I share with my posse that it had been my first time. Hell, after the spate of jewelry robberies when Cary Grant's character had said he'd been a reformed thief for 15 years, I wasn't sure if he was lying or not.

That's how clueless I was.

Not only did I enjoy that kiss last night, I was awed by its efficiency.

If you love life, you'll love edible spoons, nerdy art lectures and classic Hitchcock movies on the big screen. Kisses, efficient or otherwise, are also high on the list.

Story of my life.