Wednesday, March 02, 2005

me and carl, we're like this

I waited on Carl Djerassi again tonight. And while this post won't be nearly as carefully built as the one I wrote after the first time--mainly because I'm drained and need to get to bed--I had to update you.

The original excitement of the evening was that I was going to be waiting on Wayne Thiebaud, who you probably know for his pictures of sweets. Or possibly his fanciful cityscapes. He was, after all, the guest of honor. And we were at SF MoMA, surrounded by the Sol Lewitt wall paintings and two-hundred some of the biggest donors to the museum, all of whom were gearing up for ahi tuna and mango tartare and grilled lamb and peppers stuffed with goat cheese. Thiebaud's table was identified as my Number One Priority, and I duly noted that SF Chronicle publisher Phil Bronstein was also going to be sitting there. Don't spill coffee on him, fer chrissakes, I thought to myself. If you ever want to work for his paper. None of the other names at the table, even though they were attached to big fancy multiglomerations, impressed me.

And then I was circling table 21, pouring water before the guests came in and looking at the namecards, and my heart started beating a little faster. It's him again! And indeed Dr. Djerassi and his companion were the first two people to take their seats, so I could pay a lot of attention to them until things picked up.

Do you always remember the names of the people you wait on? he asked when I asked him by name if he wanted more wine. So I explained that no, I didn't, but that I'd waited on him at Stanford several months back, and I remembered that. I'm sorry, I wish I could lie and say I remember you, he said, but I can't. But the next time, I will remember you.

And THEN he spent the whole meal flirting with me again! Seriously, the man is impossible! How is a girl supposed to get any work done when her guest, with his wavy pure white hair and black velvet jacket, is complimenting her on every plate transfer? About to pour champagne for the toast, I noticed there was a chip in his glass (our regular rental company's gone down the drain since they bought up all the other ones; they've been getting sloppy) and switched it out for a new one. And he had to comment on how well I'd done it. If I'd really done it well, I pointed out, you wouldn't even have seen me do it. And there was a whole thing with the dessert--good lord--he told me he thought that when I put it down, I would adjust the little cookie thingum sticking out of it just so, and that he was disappointed that I hadn't. So I picked up the plate, made a full circuit of the table, and delivered it again.

With the cookie thingum adjustment.

And that pleased him. Almost as much as being offered coffee did. I can't say no to you he bedroom voiced at me.

I understand why this man had to invent the birth control pill. Or at least, I can guess at how other people have expressed their gratitude for his having done so, over the years. He's got that complete silver fox thing going on. And when everyone left after coffee, he made a point of coming over and thanking me for treating him well, and we had this sort of weird one-half hug and promised to keep an eye out for each other at formal events.

Very strange, and endearing.

By the way, Thiebaud is also just as nice as these people say he is. We have a new pastry chef who had designed the dessert to look like something out of a Thiebaud painting, all pastelly and squared off (she even chose raspberry and passionfruit coulis to decorate the plate instead of chocolate, to keep the colors right) and so I mentioned that to him, and he seemed quite touched by the gesture.

He was a flirt too, come to think of it. What is it with me and men in their eighties?