Celebrity death of the week is Dorothy Loudon. She was probably most famous as Miss Hannigan in "Annie," but I remember her particularly for "Sweeney Todd." Though it was Angela Lansbury who originated the role, Ms. Loudon did a great job as Mrs. Lovett, the baker of the worst pies in London, whose luck turned around thanks to a special secret ingredient.
This week was a weird one for me, with quiet mornings and lots of panicked afternoon rushes. It just works out that way sometimes. The quiet times did give me a chance to get over to the Vietnamese embassy on Friday morning and drop off my visa application. It will be easier going back to pick up my passport and visa, since now I know that the embassy is three blocks further north than I had thought. Though I will probably still just walk up from the Farragut West metro station, versus having to change to the Red Line to Dupont Circle, since it's a pleasant enough walk.
The major event of the weekend was my boss's dinner party, held at the Melrose Restaurant in the Park Hyatt. Of course, I always agonize over what's appropriate to wear to this sort of event, and I ended up deciding (with advice from Marcia) that I should really try to find a classic little black dress. I wasn't desparate, as I knew that I could always wear my plum velvet if I failed to find anything, but an l.b.d. is so generally useful that it was worth a look.
What I discovered is that there are surprisingly few classic l.b.d.s out there this year. Oh, sure, there are plenty of black dresses for sale, but most of them have sort of silly adornment - beads or bows or what have you. Which misses the entire point. One needs something classic and plain, that can be dressed up or down on demand. The department stores all have pretty much the same stuff, none of it qualifying. But Talbot's had exactly the right thing. I should have realized that, as they specialize in classics.
Now, the catch is that trying on clothing always has potential for trauma. I picked up the dress in a size 22 (the size I've most often needed) and headed to the fitting room. It was way too big. I did know that I'd lost about 10 pounds recently, not out of any particular effort but from walking a lot and from not having been very hungry for dinner a couple of nights. And I had noticed the waistbands of a favorite pair of pants and of my pajamas being a bit loose. But I hadn't translated that into anything in particular. When I went back out, I picked up both the 20 and, just in case, the 18. As it happened, the latter fit very well.
I mention this because I was way too pleased about it. I know full well that the numbers on the labels are arbitrary and that upscale manufacturers cut clothes more generously because they know the smaller numbers on the tags make women feel better. I know that if I eat healthily and get enough exercise, my body will sort the rest out itself. I know that I'm not a better or worse person because of a couple of inches on my waistline. I know all that, but the number on the tag still triggers that emotional resonance for me.
It's not like that manipulated me into buying the dress - I bought it because it was exactly what I was looking for and I know I'll get good use out of it. And it did work for the dinner (helped along with the effort needed to wear my hair down and accessorized with my favorite spectacular earrings). I may someday find the exact pair of shoes I want to go along with all this. (Black suede pumps, low to medium heel, but comfy enough to walk in.) But even with more prosaic shoes, I looked quite good.
As for the dinner itself, the food was excellent and the service spectacularly good. I had black cod, served with coconut rice, and it was quite tasty, as was the raspberry creme brulee for dessert. It's certainly a place to keep in mind for one of Robert's (too infrequent) visits here. There's live music (and a few people dancing, though a marble floor sort of misses the point as far as I'm concerned). But it was still quiet enough for pleasant conversation. I'm still not very keen on work related social events, but we have a small and congenial group so it's not too much of an ordeal.
Copyright 2003 Miriam H. Nadel