04 January 2007

A Christmas Story

On our first night here, we decided to take Frank to dinner with us. Pinks was feeling sorry for him, and she just knew he didn't want to be alone his first night. I have long since learned not to question Pinks' ability to read Frank's mind. The two of them communicate at a frequency not found on my receiver.

The French are very tolerant of dogs in restaurants. Much more so than I. We settled for an outdoor café on the waterfront, where Frank could lie at or under the table and still be outside enough to make me less uncomfortable.

The food was so-so, and the service poor. (The service is always poor at Le Bucaneer—I think they are proud of their distinction in that regard. I can think of no other reason for that extreme departure from the norm on this island, where, properly so, restaurateurs think it is ill mannered to ignore ones patrons.) And of course the view of the harbor and the passersby was sensational.

At some point during our boeuf bourgogne, we slipped into our practice of deducing the life story of the people at the next table, based on nothing but their appearance, demeanor, and an occasional snippet of non-substantive conversation when available without leaning so far over as to fall out of one's chair. Our conclusions are never wrong. Well, more precisely, our creations have never been proven to be wrong, so we must be right, no?

At the table next to ours were two women and two well behaved children, approximate ages 4 and 6. Both kids were stunning blonde girls, one of the moms was an equally stunning blonde in her late early 30's, and the other woman was a barely noticeable brunette of indeterminate years—early 20's I would say. No men at the table.

Clearly this was a moneyed family. The little girls were wearing embroidered tops that were classic St. Barths. Pinks said she had one just like them that she got at Calypso. The lingua franca was American English but we heard no substance, other than an occasional instruction to "please keep the napkin in your lap, dear", "put the fork on your plate if you are finished" etc. All very quiet and poised.

This was too easy. I announced my findings based on the overwhelming evidence: StunningBlondeMom was clearly the mother of the four yr. old—they were virtual identical twins—and probably also the mother of the 6 yr. old as well. The not-so-attractive young brunette woman was a niece or a nanny or a friend. MouseyBrunette barely spoke, if at all.

At the end of their meal, StunningBlondeMom asked for the check and put her credit card on the table.

It was perfectly clear that StunningBlondeMom mom was pissed that her investment banker husband wasn't the one paying the bill. He was back at the villa on the phone, or had flown back to Greenwich, or had never came down in the first place. He was a "buy-sell" hotshot doing a deal, or that's what he told his wife and was at this moment snuggling with his 19 yr old honey in Tribeca. In any event, I admired SBM's poise in not taking her anger out on the little girls, who were delightful.

Now asking for the "l'addition" at Le Bucaneer and actually being presented with it are distinct acts in a seven-act play, each separated by a lengthy intermission.

That intermission, together with our decision to bring Frank, combined to shatter my heretofore flawless record of correctly minding other people's business.

What happened was this: The little girl, no longer busy with her dinner, could not take her eyes off Frank. She asked his name, could she get off her chair and pet him, did he bite, was he nice like her dog back home, and etc. She was instantly involved with Frank, and he with her. StunningBlondeMom took it all in with a smile, turned in her chair, and began to chat with us. (Pinks always says that if she dies before I do, all I need do is take Frank for a walk and I'll be re-married in a month.)

I offered the polite compliment that the girls were so well behaved and StunningBlondeMom smiled and said, "Yes, that's because their mother is not here."

Yikes! Time for an agonizing reappraisal. StunningBlondeMom was indeed stunning and blonde, but not a mom. She told us she was a nanny, and not even the nanny of these little girls. The mousey brunette held that job. StunningBlondeMom was the nanny for another family, also from Stamford, CT. SBM's employers were friends of the kids' parents, were here on vacation, but their child—SBM's charge-- is off skiing with friends. (SMB's employer-family owns a yacht in the harbor, but it is on charter, and they will return, on the boat, with their child and SBM in March. We saw it in the harbor this morning. Gorgeous.)

So SBM said to her employers, "Hey, I don't want to be alone here in Greenwich for New Years. Take me with you to St. Barths and I'll hang with Mousey." So they paid her airfare, gave her money for expenses, and here she was dining at a waterfront café three days before New Years. Nice, huh?

Her check came, she paid for the gang at her table, and we said goodbye and exchanged assurances we would probably run into each other in March. She did not invite us to dinner on the yacht.

Fast forward three days. Pinks and I are sitting on Flamand beach. It's a long beach on the north side of island, home to the prestigious Isle de France Hotel, and a great place to people-watch because while it is not crowded, people are much inclined to stroll from one end to the other. There are two public entrances to this beach. We usually go to the one at the west end of the beach, (the hotel is on the east end), but this day we chose the one closer to the hotel because during the holidays the west end tends to attract the teenage kids home from school, who play ball, fly kites, and otherwise act like teenage kids and who needs that, right?

So Pinks and I are parked about one hundred yards west of the herd of hotel beach chaises, reading and dozing, and who should stroll by but our Miss StunningBlondeNanny, looking drop-dead gorgeous in a teeny weeny white bikini…..rubbing shoulders with an attractive, fit, 50 yr. old guy. Whoa! Who is he? Her employer, Mr. Yachtowner? Where is Mrs. Yachtowner? Where is Miss Mousey and the girls? Just what is going on here?

I thought I was good at this deduction biz. The truth is that up to now I was a big fish in a small pond. New York is Double A ball: this is "The Show".

Okay, I gotta take one more shot at this:

I figure SBN's beach companion was not her employer, but rather was Mousey's employer, father of the two little girls. Two weeks ago, Mousey's employer and his best friend Mr. Yachtowner were at the nineteenth hole and the former said to the latter, "Y.O., ya gotta take StunningBlondeNanny with you to St. Barths. She is threatening to blow the whistle on us if she can't come along, and I can't handle that. I owe ya big, buddy."

Yeah, that's it. How did I miss it the first time around?

Is this Paradise, or what?

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