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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Only if I knew the Tao of Hélène earlier

“A dinner for six has to be for very close friends,” Madame Hélène Rochas told W in 1981, before describing a perfect menu (eggs en cocotte with truffles, lamb with baby vegetables, salad and cheese) and explaining why her chef’s sorbets were beyond par (“They’re not heavy, because we use only fruit and sugar, never milk”).
Since I am on diet to loss some weight these days, I try to avoid dining out and stuff myself up. Discipline and self-control, my dear, is de rigeur. However, I couldn't help but agree Madame Rochas' golden rules of entertaining. Only if I learnt earlier then I would not have had the peculiar dinner last weekend.
It was arranged at the beginning of last week by my friend A and his beau, scheduled at the Press Room at 21.00, Saturday. Three hours before scheduled time, he informed me there would be a friend of his joining the dinner, which I'm fine with. I got there on time and A arrived not long after, we had a chat and he sort of told me his friend would come with his ex., it's a dinner filled with strangers. The sense of uncomfortable and, uncomfortable basically. I unself-consciously set up the alarming protective system as usually do. This is me, yes, I tend to be shy, anti-social and highly-guarded when strangers around under all circumstances.
To cut it short, people arrived gradually, and there were six of us, another plus one joined just before the meal started. Throughout the night, I sat there with occasional nods and smiles for courtesy's sake and eat. I just couldn't bring myself to join their conversation. There, enlightenment again - I cannot communicate with people who are not in fashion or not fashionable, alas! My problem, again. I virtually knew none of them and had nothing in common with.
We ended the dinner just after 23.00, one of A's friend suggested to go to his newly renovated flat for a drink, I'd be rude if I don't go since this very chap just treated us a dinner, I don't want to look like someone who just come for the food and leave, so I had no choice but followed suit. Everyone gave compliments on the renovation and was genuinely impressed, I, on a contrary, find the decors nothing special (not being a bitch here, but don't get me start), I couldn't fake it any longer by that time, I did my best possible behaviour and kept silence the rest of the night. Again, nodded, smiled politely and looked at ceilings for another 2.5 hours. I simply just couldn't join in, period. Whether I was rude or not by then, I couldn't care less anymore.
To sum it up, it was an evening filled with not-so-good food, boring diners and simply a meal I didn't enjoy the slightest in a long time and will try my best to avoid in future.
Maybe I have given friend A a social butterfly sorta easy-going image, but it really depends whom I'm with and where I am. It's a lot easier for me to mingle and converse; nor am I the most anti-social person, but wrong diners are just wrong, one is just stuck in it for hours, see? That's why I prefer luncheon or happy hour cocktails when meeting new people.
I remember vividly Alber Elbaz once pointed out his view on friend gathering - 'I prefer small group than big, I work with bodies all day long, at the end of it, I don't need bodies, I want human.' I couldn't agree more.
Read on [the Tao of Hélène] *here

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