03 May 2007

Vesper Lynd trumps Solange every time

Even though I know it's coming at the end of the reveal segment on every episode of the Style Network's long-running makeover show "How do I look?", I still cringe every time Finola Hughes places her hand on the fashion victim's shoulder and tenderly if not a bit dramatically says, "Now you know the rules, you have to pick one collection in its entirety, no mixing and matching."

Even though they, too, knew that line was coming, the look on that person's face is always one of if-I-have-to-I-guess-have-to disappointment.

That feeling we get when we're forced to take something as it is, in its entirety, without the option of additions, deletions or even slight rearrangements, whether it's a meal, a CD, an outfit or a relationship, is in my opinion, one of life's most trying challenges. We spend our entire lives figuring out what it is we want, what we'd prefer, what we'd rather not have and what we absolutely don't want, but in some cases, none of that matters. In some cases, if you want the vegetarian omelet, you can't get it with egg-whites, spinach instead of red peppers and brie instead of swiss. Sometimes, you just have to deal.

Last night, sitting al fresco sipping rosé Champagne with a girlfriend at Le Bar, I couldn't help but tune into a conversation two tables away between a man and a woman - his voice significantly older than hers, a distinction a less seasoned eavesdropper would have overlooked, and understandably so, given their intensely connected banter - that the longer I listened, the more I realized was more a crescendo of verbal foreplay than it was a pleasant exchange of words. They weren't being overtly sexual or thrusting in the other's face their intellectual prowess or expertise in the areas of music, art, wine, world traveling or any of the predictable ooh-(s)he'll-be-really-impressed-by-this topics of get-to-know-you conversation. In fact, it was the complete opposite. At one point, she pulled out of her bag the newest issue of Us Weekly and asked the gentleman, "Okay, which of these dresses do you like the best? Quick, don't think about it, just...just choose the one that strikes you first." Amused at the question - and her, I'm sure, for asking it - he indulged her and chose one. "Really?" she asked, seemingly more perplexed by his selection than disappointed. "Why? Why that one? I mean, I like it, but I like that one a lot better." And so for the next 30 minutes, this very educated twosome (she a young lawyer fresh out of NYU working at a downtown firm and he a senior analyst at a prestigious think-tank) talked, laughed and earnestly analyzed the pros and cons of the strapless white brocade tea-length cocktail dress Nicole Richie wore to the Race to Erase MS benefit two weeks ago in Los Angeles. Following that, it was a lighthearted commentary on DC style (imagine my excitement!), then the Palfrey scandal, then a whole slew of "if you could go anywhere"/"interview anyone"/"buy anything"/"have a love affair with anyone, living or dead" questioning that might have seemed on the surface puerile, but to me, evidenced a can't-get-enough level of curiosity each had for the other. It was sweet. It was refreshing.

It was hot.

For the next hour, after P realized I was only half listening to her tales of office woe, I realigned my attention to her and away from my couple. But even in excerpt-form, when their voices would rise above the hush of the other diners' more subdued exchanges and it was impossible not to hear them, I could still tell theirs was a seamless series of conversations with the most unlikely topic leading into the next, some of which she knew nothing about, some of which he knew nothing about, but because they met at that X-factor level and had a connection that despite the years and experiences separating their lives, nary a lull did fall. Not even a hint of one. So perfect was this first meeting that not only did I wish I was on one end of it (sorry P, you were good company, but this was one of those like-lightning moments) but I also didn't want to turn around to see who these people really were. In my head she was Vesper Lynd and he was James Bond and the two of them were on a train to Montenegro for a national-security-depends-on-it poker tournament. I imagined he kept it simple with a perfectly-cut black suit and a white dress shirt - the first two buttons undone - and a pair of round-toed black wingtips. She, on the other hand, had a more involved look with slim, all-black knits, severe cuts at the neck and hem, showpiece sleeves, architecturally-simple sky-high pumps. Her dark hair hair pulled tightly back and on her face nothing but mascara and a take-notice deep-red lip.

As is almost always the case, however, all fantasies come to a screeching fiery end.

At the end of my second cocktail, I heard the woman - mid-belly laugh - say, "You'll love it, no really, stop it, you'll love it - come on," then came the scrape of metal chairs on concrete, and I knew my couple was leaving. Looking down, truly not wanting to see what they looked like, two pairs of shoes passed next to mine, neither of which James Bond nor Vesper Lynd would ever have worn. Hers were square-toed, block-heeled and beige; his were scuffed, brown and probably Rockport.

But you know what, as shallow as you think I am, in that moment, when I saw the ugly footwear this beautifully-connected couple was wearing, I thought to myself, "These two share the one thing that can't be learned or improved through a workshop, through training, through therapy or through a yours-truly guided tour of the Saks Shoe Salon...they've got wit and they know how to use it."

So yeah, there are times when you can't have it all. Sometimes you have to pick the girl who hates your stupid spaghetti westerns and has a tendency to grab your junk in public but makes you laugh so hard you know you couldn't go a day without her, and sometimes you have to pick the guy who refuses to give up his jean shorts and pleated khakis ("they're just pleats, chill out") but gets you like no one else in this world.

Style and presentation are no doubt important, especially to me, but wit and laughter -- that's where it's at. That's the Tera Patrick money-shot.


Anonymous said...

You should write for a magazine, you know that? You're that good.

jessica said...

I echo "anonymous". This read like a novel. One of your best.

brown bear '02 said...

I wonder how they met. DC is such a funny town like that. I loved this post! I felt like I was right there with you...but with a glass of regular champagne, not rose :)

west coast devotee said...

So Ms. Patrick is in the girl-crush club, too? She sorta looks like you. More Asian but sort of.

knew you as hannie said...

For those of you who don't know who Solange is, she's the other Bond girl from Casino Royale. I had to look it up. I guess our editrix thinks we know this stuff as thoroughly as she does!

Great post, sweetie!

erin said...

Thanks for the info, WCD. I thought the Solange Johanna was referring to was Beyonce's sister, and I'm like, "Huh??"

I hope you run into these 2 again - I want to know if it worked out!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't ditch your friend and go after the older guy yourself. Would've fit your M.O.

And no, that's not a compliment.