Friday, October 19, 2007

Birthdays, burlesque, and Belgian circus tents...

So, now I am officially old…

They say that 30 is the new 20, meaning that it is an age women no longer dread to reach for fear their youth is behind them. It used to be that life…and middle age…began at 40, but the end of middle age has always been a bit blurred. At what age do you become a Senior Citizen? Can you be a Senior if you look like you are in your early 40s? Must you accept the label of Senior even when others refuse to believe you’ve even cracked the half century mark, let alone crossed over into that sixth decade or beyond?

This is particularly pertinent to me since earlier this year I had my 60th birthday. That morning Hubby rose at his accustomed time, but before he left for work, he gave me a tiny jeweller’s box and inside was a beautiful, dainty little gold band flush set with three tiny diamonds so that they looked like little twinkling stars…a ring I had been admiring at a jeweller’s more than a month ago. Before he went out the door he admonished me to be ready to go out, no later than seven, and I should dress up. Sneaky man that he is, he refused to tell me where we were going.

I spent a few hours at the salon…it was time for a haircut and a touch-up. Yes, I am a natural blonde (Swedish and German ancestry), just not naturally this blonde…well, at least not since I was a kid. My stylist informed me that there was no grey to report, which I thought was pretty good until I thought of my maternal grandfather…no more than 30% grey when he died at the age of 79. Some of us just get lucky in the gene pool, ya know?

So I came back home, played around on the computer for a while, and then he was home and it was time to get ready to go. Freshly coiffed, painted and polished, I pulled out a gold tone-on-tone, embroidered and sequinned sheer silk overblouse, some black linen pants, an understated black lace-trimmed camisole, and some prettily sequinned and beaded black sandals. In a matter minutes I was dressed and we were out the door.

Well, almost out the door…when I got to the dining room I was faced with a HUGE gift wrapped box on the dining room table. Covered in red and gold paper and tied with red and gold organza ribbon, it took up half the table (which easily seats eight!). I had to get Hubby to take the tape off the box…I was reluctant to risk breaking a fingernail just before we went out to dinner…but once I got a look inside, I was just breathless…a pair of tall crystal and silver lamps I had been eyeing in a local interior décor shop, topped with the most beautiful hand-made shades of cream-coloured silk shantung and trimmed with ribbon embroidery, hand-made ribbon roses, pearls, and crystal fringe, all in the same creamy hue. Very tony, very feminine, very Art Nouveau. I was speechless!

Finally we were out the door and in the car, but he still wouldn’t tell me where we were going. It wasn’t until I actually guessed it that Hubby confirmed we were en route toMadame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams. For those of you who’ve never heard of this venue, let alone experienced it, please go to this website for a quick promo and some pics: .

It is even better in person! The tent is huge and easily seats more than 400 people. And it was sold out…a full house. Unlike your basic circus tent, however, this thing was sumptuous. The ceiling panels were a deep claret velour, the seams dressed with gold bullion fringe, the walls covered with an array of bevel-edged mirrors that reflected light in such a way that it felt like being inside a jewel. Stained glass windows encircled the tent at the junction of the walls and the top, just above the booths, and tables with crisp white linen filled the room.

In the centre of the space was a raised circular dais and above it a hook hanging from the peak of the tent from which dangled a mass of flowers. Throughout the night this hook was lowered, something new attached to the hook, and then put into use. You see, this is Dinner Theatre and all manner of Cirque du Soleil type acts go on during the course of the evening. They range from a quartet of quite excellent Doo-Wop singers to acrobats, belly dancers, and even a guy who juggles a running chainsaw!

The food was excellent. They serve banquet style…all courses are delivered to all of the tables at the same time…and you have limited entrée choices, but it was lovely, just the same. Chilli and chocolate are among the ingredients in Sonoran molé sauces, which I love, so the chilli and Belgian chocolate sauce on the fillet of beef was much better than one might have expected.

The tent, the excellent food, the fun entertainment, however, was a bit spoiled by a wholly inattentive waitress. She basically ignored us (and her other tables nearby) except at serving time and at the end of the evening when she stopped by between the entree and dessert to ask if everything was OK. She didn’t even notice that the busperson who had set the tables up for the final course had skipped our table and the one behind us. So, as everyone else sat sipping their coffee and sampling the tiny crème brulee, Hubby and I (and the poor sots at the table behind us) craned our necks to see if we could find our waitress. When Hubby finally spotted her, caught her eye, and motioned her over, she was rather irritable when he pointed out the lack of table accoutrements.

When the evening came to a close we looked around for our waitress to get our bill. She had disappeared from the floor. After asking two other servers to find a way to get our bill (to which they agreed but did not comply) I finally lost my patience (we had been sitting there with a table full of dirty dishes and no bill for more than half an hour). I stood up, intending to walk up to the front of the tent and find a management person to get our bill for us. As I shouldered my handbag and waited for Hubby to shuck his chair, who should arrive with a chipper smile pasted across her face? Our missing server. Without our bill.

Needless to say, her tip was much, much smaller than it might have otherwise been and her abandonment of her station put rather a damper on the evening, seeing that it was 23h00, we had been up since 6 and had to get up at 6 yet again.

All things considered though, it was a fabulous evening, the food was good and the entertainment first rate. It was a lovely...and quite memorable...way to begin the segue from middle age to senior citizenship!

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