Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bernadette chooses a dress

Dedicated to Rosa Lyster, who’s never dedicated anything to me, but likes dresses.

by Carin Robinson

By the time Bernadette had received the invitation to Mr. Moon’s annual party, she had already changed her mind seventeen times. Year after year, the party is left with firm resolutions about what she will wear the following year, and even firmer resolutions about what she will not wear. This means that the first change of mind happens about three weeks after the previous party. And so it goes, until the following annual shindig.

Being capricious in this manner had always been a matter of hot philosophical dispute in the childhood home of Bernadette. Her mother, eminent intellectual and earnest scholar, held that to be capricious is to be fickle. Bernadette was always a little disappointed in her mother’s piffling contribution; just a synonym, is what it was. Bernadette maintained that words, unless in a poem, could not really change anything in the world. Synonyms, least of all.

Her father, hopeless socialite and unhinged fashion zealout, was of the opinion that, once one accepts that decisions are based on reasons and that it is the reasons which change, being capricious can be as rational as many other dispositions. Bernadette thought this a very sophisticated argument. But what does she know? Tripe! her mother would exclaim in disbelief. To which her father responded pleasantly; with onions or curried? Bernadette could never decide which would be better.

This year, deciding on a dress for Mr Moon’s party required additional attention. There would be a chef that Bernadette had followed across the world. He was to cook for Moon this very month. This made her options all the more confounded. She had had his lamb fillet with truffled gnocchi in Cannes. She had eaten his red mullet gaudi in Barcelona. Bernadette had consumed with a great gluttonous speed his baked gammon, served in an earthenware dish. Bernadette could not cook. She could never have a conversation with him using the lexicon of cookery. But she could dress for the meals that night.

She was to stand alone, in the heat of impossible choice, with the world of colour, texture, shape and proportion to bear alone on her shoulders. The pressure was nearly unbearable, but asking others inevitably increases the options. Bernadette had to resist this temptation. She had consistently ruled out black. Why? It was difficult to find an answer to this question. But she had no time for reasons at this stage. She had only three months left. After a breathless and sleepless journey into the world of multitudinous whites and countless greens, she landed on a dress that would float when she moved and would hang plumb down when she was still. It happened to be green. The green of the sea, when it is green from algae and grey skies. The colour was an accident. But a happy one.
Bernadette would never know whether the chef saw her. But she knew that when she ate his freshly extruded bucatini, prepared as a tribute to Arabic Sicily, with sultanas, saffron and fennel, she forgot her dress completely. It hung quietly from her shoulders, like a small child waiting for attention from his father, while she was lost in a complex history of food, which is, after all, the history of the world.

Important notice: The Glenwood Restaurant is officially open on the 14th of April. See our website for booking details. Although we love people just arriving to eat, bookings are recommended. We do not yet have a liquor license. Bring your own.

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