On Saturday night my husband and I went to dinner with the writer Mark Dapin and his partner, Claire. We arrived at the restaurant perfectly on time, partly because I am very punctual, and partly because I like to be on time with Mark to remind him of the fact that he was half an hour late to my book launch. Which would have been fine, except that he was launching it.
I scanned the room, but Mark was nowhere to be seen.
"Shall I zeet you at yer tubble?" asked the waiter*.
"Sure," I said.
"You are tu?"
"No, we are four."
"You are fur?" he asked, and indicated a woman standing by the bar. "You are weez zis lady here?"
I looked at the lady. She was tall with long brown hair and long pale arms. I had never met Claire, so didn't know if it was her. However, I figured that as long term partners frequently ended up looking like each other, she would probably be short, balding and covered head to toe with tattoos.
"I don't think so," I said.
"But mebbe she iz weez you?" the waiter insisted.
So I had to ask.
I tapped the woman on the shoulder. "Are you Claire?" She shook her head haughtily, which I took as a 'no'. The waiter gave an unconvinced hurrumph, as if I was deliberately making things difficult.
"Come zees way," he said. We followed him to a table where a pretty, blonde woman sat alone.
"So. You are weez zis lady here?"
I hoped fervently that there weren't 25 single women in the restaurant because this could get old very quickly.
"Are you Claire?" I asked the woman.
"Yes," she told me, just as a short, balding, tattooed man appeared behind her. Thank god. The waiter looked triumphant. We were all seated.
The four of us chatted for a while, and then it was time to order drinks.
"I'll have a beer," said Mark.
"I'll have a champagne cocktail," said Claire.
"I'll have a glass of pinot noir," said I. And then I winced, bracing myself for the inevitable.
"I'll have a chocolate orange martini!" said my husband, and I felt a slight wave of relief. A choc orange martini wasn't that bad. Okay, so it wasn't exactly beer, but it also wasn't a 'Sunset Kiss', a 'Cosmopolitan' or a 'One For The Girls, all of which are cocktails my husband has ordered in the past**.
(Now, let me clarify: I am not implying that my husband should be a real man and order a beer. But... would it kill him just once in a while to be a real man and order a beer?)
The conversation drifted to New York, which we had all recently visited. Mark pointed out his shirt, which he had bought there for $150, after it was reduced from $850. I tell you this because he repeated it several times, and that snippet of information is now seared into my brain like the alphabet, or the names of all the Young Talent Time members.
He then mentioned to my husband the amount of his advance for his latest book, which was large, and also seared into my brain, because I had heard him tell me before, and you don't forget a figure like that.
Keenly aware of my own, comparitively small, advance, I struggled to say something impressive. "I read somewhere that it is the job of a good agent to ensure that your advance is so big that you will never get a royalty cheque," I said knowledgeably, confident that I would generate an interesting line of conversation.
"Er... yeah.... I told you that," said Mark. And that was that.
We chatted some more and ate an enormous amount of French food, which was lucky as I am wasting away after our recent holiday to the states***. And nothing else of note happened, which seemed to disappoint Mark, as he was hoping to get some material for his next column.
I, on the other hand, can make a blog post out of pretty much nothing, which is why you are reading this now.
*who was French, as I am attempting to demonstrate in my prose, but I am really shit at accents.
**except for the latter, which I made up.
***using 'wasting away' in the sense of 'gained three kilos'.