Place setting, The Palm Court at The Drake Hotel
Previously, I wondered why Elisa and Alissa’s plans for Valentine’s Day were so, well, low-key. Which is ridiculous on my part, as they are fairly low-key ladies. That’s part of the reason why I like them so much. Who needs fancy overpriced dinners and flowers and fireworks?
I guess I do. But that’s me, and I don’t need a boyfriend for that. I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind a boyfriend. I’m just saying that while I’m happy to be single (though it sounds like I whine about it all the time, eh?) it would be nice to know what Valentine’s Day is like with a man rather than without one.
Kathy invited me to tea at The Palm Court, a gorgeous lounge at The Drake Hotel, and I was happy to accept. I’ve been going to tea there for a very long time, so it was nice to go somewhere elegant on a beautiful day. I didn’t wear any red (not even my usual red lipstick) but I did wear my favorite hot pink coat. I thought I looked pretty adorable, as did Kathy, who sported a red cashmere sweater/shrug/shawl. We were a little more dressed up than most, a fact I became aware of acutely while we were waiting to be seated. A family with small children preceded us in the queue. “It’s his first time having tea,” the mom explained to a pair of older woman while gesturing towards her young son. “We’re culturing him!”
I thought that was pretty rich coming from a woman who let one of her daughters out of the house wearing fleece-lined Crocs.
Shaun Rajah, who is the special events manager for The Palm Court, welcomed us, gave us each a single long-stemmed red rose, and showed us to our table. Shaun is, I learned after some Googling, is the special events manager for The Palm Court. More than a maître d’, he was literally the man. Showing parties to their tables, directing them to coat check, quickly and discreetly helping the staff do their jobs all dressed in an immaculately tailored suit. So I know it’s probably his job to look like a badass but if he could manage to do that then why couldn’t the lady with the Crocs-wearing girl put her baby in some patent Mary Janes?
I know if Jacinda were reading this as I typed, she’d remind me that her own daughter has a funny habit of removing her shoes in public places, and maybe that mom decided it was easier to go with Crocs rather than fight her daughter for cuter footwear. Maybe, but that doesn’t explain why her husband turned up for tea wearing what appeared to be a nylon tracksuit jacket instead of a more formal coat.
But let me get back to the tea. Shaun informed us that Oprah’s own manicurists were on hand to provide complimentary hand massages as he showed us to our table. I got excited about this, as I haven’t had my nails done since Lisa and Eddie’s wedding. Which was in November. OMG I’m gross.
While I fantasized about my free hand treatment, Kathy and I ogled the tea selection. Our rather adorable waiter came by to take our order: a bellini for Kathy, a mimosa for me, white jasmine tea for both of us. The cocktails were the first to arrive and frankly, they were incredibly tasty. The food arrived as did our pots of tea.
The food did not stop the conversation, which covered a number of topics. Valentine’s Days past (I still rank our dinner at Frontera Grill in 2001? 2002? which served every single dish from Like Water For Chocolate as the best one ever), the Super Bowl (Kathy’s building had a viewing party for its tenants), my brother, her sister, what Kathy’s giving up for Lent (swearing!), dieting, the lady who does did Kathy’s hair, “Absolutely Fabulous”. Every so often, I’d peek over at the table where the manicurists were set up, and they always had clients. Damn. We ended up not getting our hand massages but it was totally fine when I saw two rather nerdy looking middle-aged men getting hand treatments. The looks of glee on their faces cheered me up.
After tea, we had to get Kathy’s parking validated which means we had to do just a little shopping at 900 North Michigan. Seriously — no validation without purchase! Also, the mall was offering tax-free shopping at a number of their shops. Even better. We went to J. Crew, where I bought some barrettes and a pair of cap-toe ballet flats. Kathy got this lovely blue shirt that she can wear under sweaters now and then by itself when the weather is warmer. Which helped me to remember that one of the reasons why I like Valentine’s Day so much is that in a matter of weeks (okay, more like months for Chicago) it will soon be spring.