Saturday, September 27, 2008

A tale of two lunches

This was a hard week for me. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a jeans-wearing housewife with a bad case of blogger's butt and a closet full of clothes that are too tight. And yet, I needed to head into the city five times this week to go to some kind of glamorous event.

The strain almost killed me.

On top of which, two of the events were luncheons. As in ladies-who-luncheon.

Frankly, if you want me to have a rotten time, invite me to lunch and then call it a luncheon. I'll hate it.

Now, one of these luncheons was a program of a non-profit whose board I currently adorn. If not for that, I would have blown it off, and not just because of my enormous wardrobe challenges. It was one of those deals where there was a talk, then the luncheon. And the talk was going to be about 18th century furniture.

Here is a laboriously-produced Excel chart depicting my interest in antique furniture:

I knew the lecture itself would be less than fascinating and more of an opportunity for me to get into a Zen state and mentally alphabetize my spice rack. And I'm not whining about that. Advance notice does a great deal to mitigate the pain of 30 or 40 minutes of feeling bored, so my real problem was afterwards at the luncheon.

I think after sitting up straight and doing my best Nancy Reagan imitation, where I look like I've been paying all kinds of attention (and unfortunately, actually HAVE been paying attention so that I'll be going to my grave knowing way more than any sane person would ever want to know about the variations in carving on the feet of 18th century tables and chairs) I deserve to have a nice meal.

But this was just not my kind of meal. There was this salad of frisee (that bitter curly lettuce that doesn't appear to want to go into your mouth, and instead, wants to stick itself up your nose) with wobbly poached egg on top followed by huge plateful of salmon (which I don't like) and two tiny new potatoes and pureed butternut squash (which I do, but there wasn't enough of it. So I found myself looking hungrily at other peoples' plates, wondering whether it would seem really tacky to ask them whether they were planning on eating their puree.) And then there was a slice of some kind of awful dark chocolate tart flavored with orange, ew. And NO WINE. And then finally, blessedly, some coffee.

OK, the other luncheon was sponsored by Tiffany & Co. I have no idea how I ended up on the invitation list for this event, but this was the single most incredible luncheon I have ever attended, and not only was it free, but we walked out with all kinds of loot.

The Tiffany luncheon was to announce to launch of It's a web site produced by Liz Smith, Candace Bergen, Whoopie Goldberg, Julia Reed, Judith Martin (a/k/a Miss Manners) and a bunch of other amazing women.

So guess who was at the luncheon?

I should say here that that at least in Chicago, if there is a big name on the invitation, there's a 95 percent chance that said big name is hanging around his chalet in Gstaad or his beach house in Malibu, or basically, is anywhere except at the benefit. And yet, at this luncheon for about 50 women, sponsored and paid for by Tiffany & Co., were

Judith Martin (Miss Manners), Julia Reed, and Liz Smith

And the tables were decorated with Tiffany jewelry. Diamonds? Check. Great big South Seas pearls the size of golf balls? Check. Those enamel Jean Schlumberger bracelets that sell for $18,000 each? There were piles of them on the tables for people to play with.

And everyone had a sterling silver "Return to Tiffany" book mark at their setting, as a party favor.

And the food was really good. OK, there was Caesar Salad and chicken with rice and sugar snap peas, which isn't all that exciting, but there were also individually-prepared chocolate souffles with crme anglaise and fresh raspberries.

And the authors were signing free books for us.

And it turns out that Miss Manners is a fan of Donna Leon, whom I adore.

More important, Miss Manners sat at my table at lunch, and just so you know, she rested her arms on the table. Which, OK, it wasn't her elbows, but still.

Honestly, people, this was heaven. I wish my wedding had been even half as luxurious and lovely. I don't even care that is a very slick website with high quality content that will keep readers away in droves from the penny-ante likes of this blog. That's how good this lunch was.

So, gentle readers, what have we learned? I can be bought. And don't make me sit through a slideshow of antique furniture again. I'm begging you.


  1. I'm normally not very interested in fancy parties or expensive jewelry or anything related to either.

    But there is just something about Tiffany's that makes my heart beat a little faster.

    And that's a little secret that even Pete doesn't know.

  2. Bloggers Butt? Sh*t! No one told me there was Blogger's Butt.

  3. Oh man, Tiffany can make me hyperventilate just thinking about it. They have this ring....oh, how I want it. I don't think I've ever coveted anything as much as I covet this ring.

    That one. *drooooooooool*

    So, yeah, this comment is all about me, but only to say that I'm very jealous of your Tiffany luncheon.

  4. I used to work for Tiffany back before I had kids. I knew the old Chicago TCO. I worked in NYC but I was a buyer so I'd visit all the stores. Glad to hear they still 'got it'.

  5. That ring is gorgeous. Although I like the version with yellow gold X's better. So just think--when you get it, we won't fight over it.

    Just so you know, my ring size is 6.5

    Now, those enamel bracelets that I claimed were $18,000? Are actually $22,000: [www_tiffany_com]

    And a woman sitting at my table was wearing two of them, with the coordinating earrings.

    Luckily, last night at the Hilton I spotted some fabulous knock-offs at the Landau boutique. They had knock-offs of the Verdura Maltese Cross cuffs, too. FddlDD, are you listening? I say lunch--not luncheon--downtown is called for, and a little costume jewelry shopping.

  6. If Miss Manners were sitting at my luncheon table, I wouldn't be able to eat for fear of being gently scolded. Then again, MM would probably simply pass me off as yet another impossible American lout.

  7. I suppose it would have been tacky to try and make off with the centerpiece?

  8. If your bracelet is available in platinum/white gold/heck-I'll-even-take-silver, then I'm in.

    Somehow I don't think working at Big Box Store is going to get me that ring, though. Alas and alack.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.