This Just In!
By Lake Stevens, Man About Town
April 6, 2005
My favorite pair of dungarees had worn precariously thin in the crotch. The "wife" insisted I buy a new
pair; "she" said I was scaring the new, (deliciously) young Filipino pool boy every time I lounged
with legs uncrossed on the patio. I failed to see the problem -- there is nothing wrong with the man of the house getting a little air.
Plus, it was the very same pair I'd
been wearing when I heard of Diana's tragic car accident. Sometimes you can never forget...
While browsing the racks at Fred Segal, I realized I would be loath to find the perfect denim pant
among the usual American garbage brands like Paper Denim + Cloth or worse, Diesel. I sniffed at the rags
that called themselves "designer." American clothing is tailored for people who "dine" at Outback Steakhouse
more than twice a week. However, my diet of macro-biotic, organic fair-trade produce, meats and sundries keeps me very
slender. Once I was pleasantly caught off-guard when a genteel Spaniard mistook me for a fourteen-year-old boy.
Perhaps because I was with one at the time? One can never know.
It is my fervent wish that the rest of the United States follow my lead and demand our comestibles be organically
farmed. I not only expect that my favorite luncheon nibble, foie gras, be organic -- but cruelty-free.
It is this bountiful diet (carefully hand-picked by my personal trainer, Paolo) that has given me a decidedly "European" figure.
Whenever my seamstress is off adding another suckling to her litter and I'm forced to select a (cough) off-the-rack item -- be
it trouser, shirt or sport jacket -- the garment must have the European cut that can only be found in...well...Europe.
I had no other choice than to take my denim quest across the pond. I set my course for -- where else -- Selfridges & Co. The esteemed
clothier, founded by an American in London, is the place to shop in the City by the Thames. I immediately emailed Phelps
from my BlackBerry and requested that he
book me passage on the first available flying ship to the British Isles.
"Oh, and Phelpsy-lamb, I may have given you something last week that you may want to have checked out. Cheers, love."
I didn't have to tell Phelps the obvious (he's that good) that the first available could be nothing less
than a Virgin-Atlantic Non-stop Premium Class flight. With Premium Class, you have the sworn assurance
from the flight crew that -- at all costs -- economy travelers will never enter the elite cabin. Premium travelers also enjoy
complimentary mani-pedis, Champers and a darling bunny suit should you want to rest your eyes.
I relaxed in the deep plush seats and sipped my glass of Perrier-Jouët. Why in God's sweet name does it take these
economy-class cows so long to board an aeroplane? It was while I waited for the peons to shuffle their
knock-off luggage down the aisle, that an idea of pure brilliance struck. As I will be in Europe, why not
jaunt to Paris and try that delectable 404 eatery Minnie keeps raving about? I quickly dialed
friends in London and had them book passage on the Eurostar.
"Oh, and sweeties -- have a fare for yourselves...on Lake!"
This last came as my second grand idea of the day; if I nosh with friends at a restaurant that I will review (some day), I can surely make my
editor cover the costs. Even when mixed with (lots of) pleasure, business is still business, after all.
After a restful flight, Jude met me at Heathrow with the usual car.
"Oh, I see you're going for the muscular look these days, darling." (We air kissed.) "How is dear Sienna?
Haven't you grown tired of that yapping yet? I don't know how you do it. Just thinking about it gives me a bloody headache."
I was already lapsing into British slang. How quickly I adapt to foreign tongues! With the exception of
that ill-fated voyage to Haiti, I have always had the chameleon-like ability to blend in to my surrounding.
(Now really -- how was I supposed to know that slavery was dead in Haiti? They all have such healthy looking teeth and gums).
A few hours later, as Jude's Bentley motored away from the dark, private alley, I couldn't help but whisk a tear from my eye.
I soon met up with a few prep school chums and enjoyed a lovely supper near my hotel. The British have
not lost their heads like the Americans -- you are permitted to smoke indoors. I found myself enjoying a
fag next to a pregnant woman in the cutest little curry house right off Brick Lane. I felt strange until
I remembered that cigarettes only hurt the baby if the mother smokes. I sure as heaven didn't see a
cigarette in the lassie's hand; as soon as my first Silk Cut was through, I lit another.
The next morning we called a car to take us to Waterloo station. From there we would board the
Eurostar -- destination Paris! There is one simple reason I always get nervous while in crowded places
in foreign lands: Gypsies. You never know when their dirty, thieving ways will find you as the victim.
I clutched my Hermés valise tight against my body and hastily lit a cigarette. I saw one such ne'er-do-well eying my red
string Kabbalah bracelet. Don't even think about it, you skid-row pariah. This was a gift from Demi and Ashton on Purim. I'll fight
tooth and nail before you can have it.
Soon after boarding the Eurostar (destination Paris!), we broke open the first bottle of Louis Roederer bubbly. I popped a few of my
"travel" pills and, next I knew, I was being smacked back into consciousness in Gay Paree. I hadn't been
so soundly out since I went four rounds with that Bulgarian immigrant potato farmer I met in the
latrine at the Marc Jacobs spring show. What he was doing at New York's Fashion Week is anyone's guess.
I don't much care for the Parisian people. The women look simply frigid and the men...well, some
need to learn to pull the foreskin back when they wash. However, the enduring romance of the City of
Lights never fails to pull me to its bosom.
I dropped off my trunk at our boutique hôtel before heading to the Marais District. Our mission: to
hunt down a dry martini and a dry foreskin. I soon found myself with a martini in one hand and, um, something else
the other. I put them into my mouth and gagged. Though I clearly remember ordering deux martinis, the liquid
floating about on my tongue was no such thing.
I angrily spit out the vile mixture. My so-called amis rolled in laughter as they
explained that a martini in France is Fanta and vermouth. I could not believe this outrage. How
dare the French bastardize the one thing I had counted on! I spent the remainder of my Paris visit
questing for a gin martini.
I bounced from Open Bar, to Kitc to Andy Wahloo before finally remembering the reason we came to this seemingly gin-less city in the
first place -- 404.
It was there, in the authentic Moroccan surroundings, that I at last experienced my beloved gin
ambrosia concoction. It was also there -- after several bottles of wine, a few REAL martinis and the most adorable
meat pie made of squab -- that I found myself perched atop the table, ululating along with the womenfolk. Oy vey, did they do a number on me.
By my third sunrise in France, I had had quite enough of cheese and bread for breakfast, Gauloise
blond cigarettes and antique markets as large as Rhode Island. (Not to speak despairingly of said
markets; I picked up the most darling black and white set of vintage snapshots that beautifully capture young boys sunning
nude along the shores of the Mediterranean. They will look stunning matted, framed and hung upon
the walls of my pool-side cabana). My mates and I jetted finally back to London, eager and bushy-tailed
to finally accomplish some shopping.
London took me by surprise; I soon found myself falling in love all over again with the City on the Thames.
The love was short lived. While I am well versed in the romance languages, I was perplexed when
I encountered an Englishman. I thought the English spoke English. Instead, I was confronted by
a language that was as foreign to me as the one spoken by my Bangladeshi masseur. I found myself
admitting -- all too frequently -- "I really have no idea of what you are saying." I was in a land that
called underwear pants and pants trousers. Even one as worldly as I, Lake Stevens, was met with snickers
when I requested my pants to be shortened a half-inch. During each taxing conversation with an Englishman,
I simply said "right-right" over and over until they shut the bloody hell up.
I grow tired even describing my long journey, however there is a happy ending to my London expo. At last I found myself inside the grand hall of
Selfridges & Co -- so huge, so beautiful! (Where have I heard that before?) Don't be fooled by imitation department stores, Gentle Readers.
Harrods simply caters to Italian tourists bent on buying chocolate. Take it from Lake Stevens and avoid the riff-raff -- shop
at Selfridges. There, among the anorexic salesgirls and racks of chic European couture, I found
what I had been seeking for so very long. The perfect denim pant was in my sights. I'd already worn out the crotch of my travel
trousers...the timing could not have been more spot on.
-Lake Stevens, Man About Town