Beast: You haven’t put up the Black Hoof post yet.
Foodie: That’s nice that you noticed. And no, I haven’t. I don’t know how to introduce the first part of our night without sounding like a hot-shot.
Beast: Just say you got invited to Peter C. Newman’s birthday party at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and you took me along.
Foodie: But people will need more context. Why was I invited?
Beast: Say you’re helping him with some research.
Foodie: That’s true, isn’t it….
Beast: Exactly. And it’s why you were invited.
So the Beast and I helped Peter C. Newman celebrate his 80th birthday along with his closest friends and family, including some well-regarded Canadians from both the political and media sectors. As soon as we arrived, Newman’s adorable wife, Alvy, invited us to have our photo taken with the man of the hour….
Foodie: I’m going to look like shit in that photograph. I was trying too hard and that means when I was sucking in my tummy, I inadvertently stuck out my boobs and I’m going to look like a big-boobed sausage. And I didn’t want to smile too big so instead of looking overly happy I’m just going to look like a frowning, stocky hobbit from ancient Greece. I knew I shouldn’t have worn my gladiator sandals with this grecian Philip Lim dress–it’s overkill.
Beast: What are you talking about? You look great! You’re not the one wearing too-tight-in-the-front pants from H&M.
Foodie: Oh don’t worry–they’re stretching out with every step you take. Do you think that guy from the National Post–what’s his name?
Beast: Shinan Govani?
Foodie: Do you think he’ll ask to take our picture?
Beast: Is he here?
Foodie: I haven’t seen him, but we need to be ready if he arrives. Have you practiced posing?
Beast: Do we get dinner or what?
Foodie: I have no idea, It’s from 6:30 to 10:00pm so I assume yes. But just keep being really nice to the servers with the hors d’oeurvres.
Thank goodness a few colleagues from the magazine where I work showed up. And thank goodness they were equally as interested as the Beast and me in eating and drinking. Several of Newman’s former colleagues and friends gave heart-felt and entertaining speeches but the most anticipated speech of the evening was given by Michael Ignatieff.
Beast: Well, Iggy just lost my future vote.
Beast: Didn’t you hear how he pronounced “genre”? He said, “gen.” Who says it like that?
Foodie: French people?
After our fill of little spring rolls, lamb kebab things, little melba toast bruschette, goat cheese quiche and my favourite–beef carpaccio bites topped with piave cheese and a drop of truffle oil, the Beast and I were still starving. We thought about getting a hot dog from the corner of St. George and Bloor but then I came up with a better plan. It was time we finally visited The Black Hoof. After a ten minute wait that breezed by, we were seated.
Beast: You know what? I’m going to let you do the ordering.
Foodie: No, no. I think you should. This menu has your name written all over it.
Beast: Exactly. That’s why you should order because I’ll be happy with anything.
So I decided on The Black Hoof’s charcuterie plate, a scallop ceviche, sweet breads with wild mushrooms & ramps, and fois gras on toasted brioche. The Beast had a pint of Creemore, and I had a superb glass of carmenere. What could possibly go wrong? Let me save you the suspense: the Beast made an ill-fated decision to bring up my questionable behaviour at a staff Christmas party last year.
Beast: You know what’s strange? Nick Edwards asked me a few days ago how I felt about you dancing in front of all those people last year.
Foodie: Why would he ask you that?
Beast: I don’t know.
Foodie: What did you say?
Beast: Not much. I think I said it was sort of funny I guess.
Foodie: How do you mean sort of funny? Like funny in that you found it hilarious?
Beast: Well, um, more like awkward funny in the way that everybody felt in that episode of The Office when David Brent dances.
Foodie. I see. No I don’t see. What exactly do you mean?
Beast: This ceviche doesn’t taste of much, does it?
Foodie: Do you think the dance was inappropriate?
Beast: I do like these sweetbreads though–even more than the sweetbreads we had at Prune in NYC.
Foodie: So, like, you didn’t think it was remotely funny?
Beast: How do I say this? Okay, I felt…embarrassed for you.
Foodie: (Silence. And fire starting to burn in my eyes.)
Beast: You backed me into a corner! Don’t make me out to be the bad guy now.
Foodie: Well I’m sorry you feel that way. I didn’t know me making people happy through the power of dance was so embarrassing.
Beast: Oh I don’t doubt people enjoyed it. I can’t say that I would enjoy it if I were there though. I’m sure it’s just a case of, “you had to be there.”
A bit of backstory: I accidently started dancing in front of my colleagues, but not in a provocative way or anything, at last year’s holiday shin-dig. There was one woman dancing by herself and the last thing I remember is thinking, “oh I’ll go dance with her so she doesn’t feel so silly dancing alone” But then I was dancing alone. In front of everybody. I knew it was wrong–terribly wrong–but I couldn’t stop. I think terror guided me, and the cheap red wine I’d been drinking all night on a very empty stomach. But it gets worse : unbeknownst to me, the whole dance fiasco was recorded on digital video and the video was sent to me and that’s how the Beast saw it.
Foodie: You did have to be there. It came about organically. It wasn’t planned. I’m not proud of having done it but people really did seem to enjoy the number. I introduced moves I don’t think any of them have ever seen before.
Beast: I’m sure everybody enjoyed it very much, but the video was sort of…sad.
Foodie: Hmm. Like pathetic? Or maybe somebody’s just jealous?
Beast: Let me assure you, it’s not jealousy.
Foodie: Listen, I was born with a gift: a gift of providing others with cheap laughs. If that means melting chocolate in my mouth to make it look like I’m missing teeth, so be it. If it means me making a fart sound when my mom bends over to pick something up, I’ll do it. And if it means me dancing, on occasion, in an unorthodox fashion, just to hear a faint, yet intoxicating chuckle, I’ll do that too. What if Mozart decided to ignore his gift?
Beast: You’re right. I’m sorry. That came out all wrong. I just feel like I know you so well and I can just imagine what was going on in your twisted, sweet little head before you…danced.
Foodie: Well let me assure you–nothing was going on in my head. I can’t explain it. I reckon it’s how other artists, like David Blaine or Michael Flatley, feel when they’re on stage. And don’t over-think this. I wasn’t trying to manipulate anybody. Cheap laughs are just that my dear: cheap. And tasteless and juvenile. It’s WHO I AM!!!!
We’d argued through the entire meal. Worst, we were still starving. The Beast tried desperately to make me feel better. I did my best to make him feel terrible the entire weekend: I moped, sighed, and didn’t make one joke. And then, I decided to see if there was any truth to the Beast’s hurtful observations: I watched the dance video for the first time in a very long time. I physically had to cover my eyes as though I was witnessing a terrible accident. It was humiliating.
I guess you had to be there.
Oh, and The Black Hoof was good, but I don’t think we can fairly award it stars yet because we were so distracted with our argument. Although I can tell you the Beast was right about the lack-lustre ceviche and the stellar sweetbreads. I just wished we’d ordered more food. And that I’d come back from the washroom with my dress tucked into the back of my underwear. The crowd would have loved it.