Dining with Rex the Rabbit. I went up to my suite. I walked into the living room and there she was, looking wonderful as ever. “Gosh. The lovely Caroline.”
She gave me a big grin, and twirled in front of the mirror. “What do you think?”
I looked at her for a long time. “Someone's got to be joking, haven't they?”
She glanced back at the mirror. “I suppose it is pretty ghastly.”
“Who the hell is going to buy something like that?”
“Not me, darling, but that's what they want me to model.”
“I suppose it's meant to be a cubist painting?”
“Something like that. They did show me the picture, but I've forgotten.”
“Have I got to write a song about Picasso's blue period? Or maybe produce a piece of surrealism?”
“I'm sure you'll think of something.”
Somehow I doubted it. I was heavily into wearables. To hell with old fashioned paintings.
I put my arms round Caroline. “Are you feeling fat?”
“I beg your pardon.”
“Can you handle a gourmet meal?”
It's almost as if I have a light switch. Caroline is switched on, and lights up.
“You bet. My waist is fine, thank you.”
I still get a massive high when she smiles, and her face comes alive with pure simple joy. Love you, little Caroline.
“Are you going to surprise me, or shall I book?”
“I see you still don't trust me.”
“You're hopeless. I'll book.”
“Have you been studying the Paris eating establishments?”
“Of course I haven't.” She picks up the phone and immediately starts talking. “What's the best restaurant in town?”
Of course I cant hear the other side of the conversation. This side emphasises delicacy of the ingredients, and brilliance of delivery. The final phrase is simplicity itself. “Book it please. Seven o'clock this evening.” There is a slight pause. “Of course. And we will need a car, naturally.” She puts the phone down.
“Of course what?”
“The imbecile asked if he was to book for two persons. As if I would be dining alone. The man's an idiot.”
“Of course darling.”
At six forty-five we are swept through the darkening streets of Paris, and ushered into a restaurant brilliantly lit with sparkling crystals of light. Madam is cosseted, and we slip gently into armchairs. The table cloth is like the dress of a Victorian lady, with enough layers to guarantee discreteness. The wine glasses shine and glitter, and we are surrounded by several layers of security and snugness.
Caroline is almost ready to purr with cat-like satisfaction, but not until she has checked every nuance of perfectibility. I watch with fascination as her expression does the initial talking. She almost deigns to accept the table, the décor, and the general ambience, but grudgingly. I can almost sense her checking every item in the room against some ideal scale of excellence. If any one thing is below the minimum required, words will be said.
She makes it clear not that everything has passed muster, but that it has only marginally passed, and we can tentatively go on to the next issue.
“A dry martini.” She picks up the menu.
“A cold but not iced manzanilla.” I suspect my order is not what is expected, but we are in a restaurant which needs to deliver so they can bloody well deliver, even if they have to send out for a bottle.
The waiter doesn't bat an eyelid.
“Are you wearing a watch?”
“What on earth do you want to know the time for?”
“I'm amused to see how long before they find my drink.”
“They'll find it.” However, she does glance at her watch.
I'm getting used to these things at last. “Do you have prices on your menu?”
She looks up. “Of course not. The cost isn't a lady's concern.”
She tuts and flicks her head. Apparently I am still barely above the level of neanderthal. Still, why should I care? I look round the room. Caroline is by far the most gorgeous lady in the place. She looks impeccable, is dressed in tomorrow’s fashion, after all, she is only going to pre-view it tomorrow on tv, and she looks simply wonderful. I cant make up my mind whether I want to keep her to myself or boast her to the world.
I briefly look at her face, attentive to the items on the menu. No, it has to be public. This girl blooms in company. It would be a crime to hide her away. How many times have I wanted to just grab her and hug her to infinity? Instead I watch her choose her meal.
She looks up questioningly, then smiles as she sees me watching her. She says something, but I am so busy just watching her I don't notice what she says.
She ducks her head slightly, waves a few fingers at me. “Hello?”
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“You'll have to be careful what you do when I'm away. You must be going deaf.”
“I am not going deaf, and I do not do unspeakable things while you are away. I'm much too busy.”
“Too busy to think of me?”
“Darling.” I smile. “What did you say?”
“I thought I might have the crayfish followed by the lobster.”
“Perfect for the model of the century.”
“I'm glad you approve.”
“Good grief. Do you care whether I approve of your choice?”
“Of course I don't darling, I was merely being polite.”
I check the description. 'A single langoustine in a lemon cream with a touch of Iranian caviar.'
“Russian caviar that's escaped to the south.”
“You probably get two eggs.”
“Don't mock. They will be bursting with unbelievable taste sensations and I shall have an orgasm just squeezing them between my lips.”
“Gosh. Did you pack spare underwear?”
“Don't be vulgar.”
“And the lobster in an apple sauce with quince and spiced wine.” I reach out for her hand. “Dare you eat pudding?”
“Of course darling. They make puddings especially for people like me. You can have the fattening ones with lashings of cream. I will have something suave and slimming.”
“With more orgasm-inducing tastes.”
“Of course. I shall go to bed feeling utterly sublime.”
“Shall I sleep on the balcony?”
“Only if you are going to snore. But you certainly cant jump about on me. What are you having?”
The waiter is back with the drinks. Actually, there are two waiters, one carrying a tray with the drinks, and another just hovering with a napkin.
I pick up the glass with my left hand, and take it in between thumb and forefinger at the base with my right hand, tilt the glass and look at the colour of the wine. Then I twirl the glass and sniff. I love the aroma of the wine, but set the glass back on the table. I don't want to drink it while the waiters are there. I refuse to be stared at.
Caroline looks at her watch and shakes her head. “They had it in the cellar unless there is a wine shop next door.”
“Smoked potatoes. That sounds unusual. Served with a horseradish mousseline.”
“That does sound interesting. When it comes I want a taste. And for mains...?”
“Ha, how about Rex the Rabbit.”
“It says here 'Lapin Rex du Poitou'. Wait a minute. This is for me. 'Pigeon de Pornic élevé au lait, foie gras et truffe, cuisse tiède, sauce huître'.”
“Gosh! Milk fed pigeon? I didn't know they fed them on milk. Are you sure an oyster sauce goes with that? I don't want you being sick in bed.”
“It will be wonderful.”
“What? You being sick in bed?”
“No, you ass, the pigeon.”
We order and watch our neighbours and each other.
“You look very dreamy. Penny for your thoughts?”
“Just thinking back a year.”
“Oh don't. It's hard to believe that just a year ago my life was unbelievably ghastly.”
She giggles. “Haven't we done well?” She reaches her hand across the table again, and looks triumphantly around the room. “We've seen off the opposition, baby boy. From now on we shall be beautiful, famous and disgustingly rich, and we will dine off milk fed pigeons and Rex the rabbit.”