Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proper Lunch with a Proper Doyenne

Lilli Joseph is one of my favorite friends. At 86 years old, she could be my grandmother, but the sparkly way her eyes light up with mischief when I tell her about my 36-year-old life, or the schoolgirl throaty giggles that escape her lips every time I tell her something particularly bold about myself, place her real age at more of a level of peer-someone I may have known since high school.

We eat at two restaurants all the time. Once a month during high season (when she's not in La Costa for the summer playing tennis three times a week) we skip away for a long one and a half hour full of conversation and French food at either Palm Springs' Le Vallauris or as in the case of today, Palm Desert's Cuistot. The ritual is always the same. I arrive and park my car and pass the valet stand where her car is prominently parked with its COMTESSA license plate. I enter the classic building designed to look like an impressive and cozy French estate and a waitress delivers me to the waiting Lilli, who has her glass of water by her side and a ruby-lipped kiss to stain my cheeks. She always orders a salad with grilled shrimp, avocado, and papaya ("dressing on the side and please tell the chef it's for Miss Lilli Joseph") and I always get the spinach salad with walnuts and topped with two perfect triangles of decadent Roquefort. When we are feeling particularly rebellious I will order champagne or red wine and she will take a small tumbler of scotch with a water back and sip it slowly throughout meal.

Today she tells me that having young friends like me are the reason she stays so alive. Not willing to hang out in the old folks home or with people who she says "can't carry themselves anymore upon their necks," she instead passes the time asking me a million questions.

"Are you married yet?"
"How is that gorgeous daughter of yours?"
"Aren't you taking any lovers?"
"You must one day find true love but the only way you are going to find it is when you aren't looking."
""When are you going to move to the South of France and become like Picasso in your paint-stained ball dress?"

Then she tells me she's proud of me and I tell her how much she has taught me over the past five years. What Lilli doesn't know is that, in return, her presence at our decadent expensive French salad luncheons, equally inspires me to live. Through my time with her, I have learned that the only way to truly live is fully, embracing my authentic self one hundred percent, and to enjoy the time I have over food and good wine with people like her more than the time I spend worrying about my career or how I might be perceived by others. You don't make it to 87 on this earth without knowing something!

1 comment:

  1. Great read, Kimberly! I have some older friends like this too, and I cherish them. xo Cristine