This is a backdated piece, yes. At about 2:56 am on a Friday night (the one right after that Sunday), I’m deciding to make this a weekly feature here. It’s a weekly thingamajig in my life so this is my attempt to integrate the two things I absolutely love: writing and Sunday brunch. Do bear with me as I get the hang of it.
We picked The Drake hotel pretty unanimously on Friday and on Saturday morning I called to make reservations for Sunday.
“12:30?” I asked
“12:30?” she repeated.
“12:30,” I said to confirm that her hearing had not suddenly gone kaput.
“I can seat three at 2. Would you like that?”
“Is there anything else?” I really wanted to catch the new Guillermo del Toro horror flick at 4:50 Sunday evening.
“Yes, I have 11 am.”
“2 will do,” I responded without hesitation. 11’s too early for Sunday. It’s too early for the kind of Sunday we wanted anyway. The movie would have to wait. Today’s the Friday after, by the way, and I still haven’t watched it.
My much younger cousin and I got there a little before 2, maybe a minute or so early. My lovely friend was running late. Nothing new about that. I usually get a text from her saying she’ll be a few minutes late due to some unforeseen natural disaster, and it came right on cue, around the time I should’ve been laying eyes on her. So, I got a croissant to start and they brought me butter and jam in two little pots and that’s when the trouble began.
Before getting into this, I should tell you that we were seated on an outdoor patio. It was a beautiful day with the sun playing hide and seek with us and the lightest breeze floating about. There were potted plants around us so maybe we disturbed their daily nectar-sucking routine or maybe our perfumes were too strong. Only those stinging winged creatures know why they descended upon us. As soon as the jam appeared, so did the bees. First there was one, and by the time my friend waltzed along, wearing a gorgeous, uniquely ruffled dress, they had doubled in number. They were buzzing about our table, interrupting our conversation every time they got too close to us and drawing intermittent shrieks from every member of our brunch. Then another one decided to join the others in the fun they were evidently having terrorising us. We were convinced that they were competing with us: One more and they’d have us out-numbered!
The waitress moved the jam to a vacant table nearby and brought some honey to add to their feast. This attracted yet another bee and now they were going back and forth between that table and ours. My cousin finally lost her mind and got up, screaming. Her hands by her eyes, half-covering them, in one swift move she left the table and leaped to the centre of the courtyard. “Can’t we go inside?” she begged. “It’s such a nice day, sweetheart,” I coaxed her into sitting down again. The bees did their biminute-ly visit of our table again and my cousin jumped, leaned towards me and grabbed me, saying, “Can’t we please go inside? Please?!” I don’t blame her, really. It’s most unpleasant to be stung by a bee. We went inside and there we could concentrate on our meals: The scared girl’s Scrambled Burrito, my friend’s Eggs Caleb (Eggs Benedict but with salmon instead of bacon or ham; I’m so going to remind her to try something different next time; she did say she wanted to be reminded) and my Bagel + Lox. Delicious, was the overall verdict.
Without the bees to distract us, the conversation got more attention too and I unloaded my story of Mr. Busy on them. We were still talking via text messages through the brunch and for the next 5 hours following it too. I was trying to balance two conversations, with my darling friends and the award-winning fella. No, it wasn’t rude. They understood the need of the moment. We are past such superficial niceties. I love them and they know it. I didn’t forsake my brunch plans with them even when Mr. Busy said he might do a quick lunch with me just because he’d be in my neighbourhood to buy some sort of toiletries. I politely informed him that I had long-standing commitments already and he said no more about it. So they know their importance in my life. I’ve picked a guy over friends before and, oh, I’ve learned my lesson. We’ll have no more of that, thank you very much. I will have another coffee, s’il vous plait. The waitress, I must tell you, was extremely sweet and I really wanted to leave her a tip. Luckily, we had the same waitress outside and inside and if we had asked to be moved to my lady’s chamber, I’m sure she would’ve been there too.
How do you cut a bagel, one that was now cold after all the hullabaloo and screaming and moving, with a butter knife? It was an open-faced sandwich. I thought perhaps I should not make a clearly futile effort with the knife, but when I lifted up an entire half-bagel to my mouth to bite into it, blobs of cream cheese found my nose a suitable spot to rub off on. I contented myself with letting the table tremble–the smoked salmon was worth it–as I picked up the useless knife and went to work at the bagel, while joining in the conversation at the table, feeding myself and replying to the Man With No Time. My efforts would not be in vain. I only grew tired of the strenuous cutting when there was half of the second half of the poppy-seed bagel remaining. Should I have asked for another one? Probably, but it didn’t occur to me then, so fixated was I on my “problem” with that elusive creature whom you’ve heard so much about now. (I thought of linking to that piece here, but I won’t. I do hope you will find it anyway.)
I left our adorable waitress a good-sized tip–at least I hope she thought that too, after putting her through all that heavy-lifting of plates and mugs and glasses and silverware and figuring out which coffee cup is whose. (We already had that under contro,l by the way: My cousin’s was the one with lipstick on it, my friend’s was the one with my stir-stick in it and mine was the one with neither of these. Quite efficient, what?) We skipped the movie, walked down the boutique-filled street, stopped customarily at every “Sale!” and “Up to 80% off” sign, relaxing our 4″-heels-decked-feet in every other store’s couches, bought some macarons and other indulgent goodies at Nadège, and parted ways in front of The Rex, utterly distracted by the live jazz playing in there, making us promise to make it a part of next week’s itinerary.