Plan B: Dinner in Two Parts
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
This is the last time you hear about the mirrors. I promise. That’s because the ending is happy.Last Monday in the Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, I related the last phase of the six months of the dumb project just to add mirrors to my bedroom closet doors. The last bit was how Leroy Merlin managed to chip the first mirror, break the second mirror and drill the hole in the wrong place in the third mirror — all this after months of waiting for each mirror to arrive. My contractor, Tony, and I gave up. We laid the mirror with the hole in the wrong place under my bed while on Monday morning, I walked only two blocks away from home to the Miroiterie Brugnon Frères and in a matter of minutes ordered a mirror that cost only 5€ more than the one from Leroy Merlin, that was ready for pick-up TWO DAYS LATER.
The mirror was beautiful and perfectly bubble-wrapped. We added a wood plank to be sure it wouldn’t break, and carted it home in less than five minutes. Tony had to break off the old mirror from the closet door first. That was no easy task. He stuck contact paper to the mirror so the shards wouldn’t fly all over the room as he hammered the mirror, “petit-à-petit” (little-by-little); the tiny morsels of glass falling down onto the bubble wrap as the hammer hit. Bang! Bang! Bang! The noise from the hammering was so loud that I couldn’t take it without earplugs, so instead left the apartment with Tony hammering away and could hear it all the way down at the bottom of the stairwell as if it was still in the same room. (My neighbors must of “loved” that!)
I have no idea how long that took, but when I returned two hours later, Tony was gone, the new mirror was in its rightful place, looking as if it had been there all along. Tony had taken the mirror with the hole in the wrong place out from under the bed and brought it back to the store to get a refund, that I told him to keep for himself.Happy ending for everyone…except Leroy Merlin.
PLAN B: DINER EN BLANC
Another year, another Dîner en Blanc, but not the usual circumstances. This year didn’t quite go as planned. When we were told to meet on rue de Lille, we suspected that it would be held at the Tuileries Garden. Champagne was being served freely to those gathering, dressed in white (as is the requirement) along rue de Lille as we waited for our group leader to give us the word to follow him. What one wears to the giant party is a big part of the fun. The more outlandish the better. This year I dressed in white silk pajamas (my real pajamas), in honor of Michelle Obama who spoke in April here in Paris, wearing silk pajamas, herself! I added big white pearl Mardi Gras beads and my iconic beret, white of course.
We waited and waited and waited…till about 8:45 p.m. drinking champagne, and suspected something was up. Yes, it was supposed to be held in the Tuileries, but as it turned out, the gates to the gardens were closed at 9 p.m. at the insistence of the guards. In a good-natured atmosphere, thousands of people (estimated 16,000!) found themselves wandering along rue de Rivoli, with candles, picnic fare and glasses of champagne in hand.
Plan B: Split into two, one group headed to Place de la Concorde, another to the Carrousel du Louvre. This was the first time the event had experienced a hitch in plans since its launch in 1988. The garden wasn’t scheduled to close until 11 p.m. as of June 1st, so there shouldn’t have been a problem, but according to those on-site, the guards took the initiative to close the gates earlier than expected, seeing the crowd of participants disembark with the intention of investing in the place for several hours! (What spoilsports!)
Our group ended up at the Carrousel du Louvre, later than usual, but in a perfect spot, next to a great band. It didn’t take long to set up, serve up and chow down. In the very midst of digging into our beautifully prepared picnic on white china, surrounded by our once-a-year Dîner en Blanc comrades, drinking champagne from real flutes, with candles lit adorned by white flowers on the table, a big blob of bird poop hit Patty Sadauskas’ plate, luckily missing the food and everything else! Nothing would have spoiled the fun, so we just laughed it off, she cleaned it off and off we went with more merriment.
We danced till we dropped. The musique stopped in time for the sparklers to be lit at the strike of 11 p.m. and at the moment the Eiffel Tower sparkled, too. The party continued, but close to midnight, we packed up our picnics and headed to a pick-up spot where our driver met us to whisk us home. It was every bit as much fun as it ever is and now I can’t wait till the next one!
One of the things I love most about this event is the natural camaraderie that takes place among everyone there, regardless of whether you know them or not. Suddenly, everyone you meet feels like an old friend. You are sharing something very special together and there are no boundaries. Some people, I only see during this one event every year, but we feel like we’ve been bosom buddies for centuries.
For those who don’t know the history, it all began here in Paris in 1988 when François Pasquier invited a group of friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at the Bois de Boulogne, asking them to dress in white so they could find each other. Something so simple has now, 31 years later, become worldwide, having grown to more than 70 cities. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
A few observations and suggestions:
1. Find a way to get invited by someone you know who attends.
2. Equip yourself with a folding picnic table and chairs or stools to make schlepping the set up easiest.
3. Hire a driver to take you and pick you up unless you live within walking distance.
4. Dress in all white and don’t cheat.
5. Hang out with the Americans, not the French, because they know how to have more fun (the French are too “coincé” (uptight) as one Frenchman at the dinner complained to me).
6. Bring food that isn’t too messy to eat or transport.
7. Electric candles are better than real candles that tend to blow out.
8. Wear something you don’t care about ruining and be sure to bring something warm as it gets chilly as the sun sets…white, of course!
LITERARY EVENING WITH CECILIA WOLOCH AND FRIENDS AT THE RED WHEELBARROW
Join poet Cecilia Woloch and her poetic friends (including Heather Hartley and participants in Cecilia’s Paris Workshop), this Thursday evening at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore at 7 p.m. for poetry and prose. Red Wheelbarrow, 9, rue de Médicis, 75006, Paris, +33 1 42 01 81 47.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(Before Dîner en Blanc)
P.S. TOMORROW is June’s Après Midi! Come enjoy author, John Pearce, speaking about his experiences as a worldwide correspondent for a number of press agencies. Details on our Après Midi page. Don’t miss it!