I find more and more excuses not to go into Santa Monica in the Summer – this year seems to be worse than ever, with throngs of people to rival Venice, Italy, traffic that snarls at snail’s pace and fellow drivers ready to knife any rivals for a parking spot. As far as I am concerned, I can wait to go to Santa Monica until next October.
I have this long-standing habit of leafing through fashion magazines or catalogues and asking myself, on every page, “Out of the selection on these two pages, what would I buy?”. It’s a tad compulsive habit at this point, probably because I have been doing it for so long, but it’s a cheap and engaging way of spending twenty minutes.
The thought occurred to me yesterday that I don’t spend enough time around young people, at least not that segment of youth between 20 and 30. Not that I can think of any reasons why I should: an effort to stay relevant? The thought occurred as I found myself catering the wedding of a young couple, at a beautiful house by the ocean in Malibu, in an unusual sweltering heat, the sort of heat that hits Southern California only a handful of days a year, when the breeze goes into hiding and, if you are trapped in a chef’s coat, standing under a palm tree, preparing appetizers, you risk going mad from dehydration and sunstroke.
I went to a lecture a couple of days ago, held by three doctors, all female, all professionals with their own practices and/or research laboratories. It certainly wasn’t a frivolous occasion and I noticed that all of them, women in their early to late 40s, wore either a skirt or a dress and high heels. One of them, in particular, sported a lovely periwinkle sleeveless dress, cinched at the waist, with a wide skirt and golden sandals. Not your typical work attire.
My mother’s advice has always veered towards the practical and commonsense but it can be lofty at times, and downright inane if aimed at a 17 year old. The piece of advice that drove me stir crazy was: “Always wear nice underwear. You can be caught in an accident and end up at the hospital when you least expect it.”
For all the yogurt, oatmeal with fruit and chia seeds that are the run of the mill at my breakfast table, nothing beats an old-fashioned cappuccino and croissant enjoyed standing at a coffee shop counter in Italy. Old habits die hard. In fairness, cappuccinos are different in the land where they were invented: much smaller and much creamier, their portion making them easier to digest. And the croissants are not a French uber-buttery affair but are more cake-y and deceptively light.
Baisable is the French word for Fuckable. I tell you this as I have recently been advised to: “Always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.”
Now I know where I went wrong all these years. There I was trying to stay clean and coordinated when I should have focused on looking fuckable. It has obviously worked for the women who penned: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits. Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, and Sophie Mas are hip, happening, employed and attached mamans: the every-women of chic.