Last Saturday night the girls and I went out to hear Roger play with CoCo Trio at the Intercontinental, a fancy schamncy hotel on the Plaza. I made a point of going to hear CoCo Trio because Stephanie, the female singer of the group, was nice enough to invite us to a party back in January, in which they stuffed us silly with exquisite food. The gathering was quite small, just a few people affiliated with the band, but they had a truckload of food. It was well-prepared, gourmet food that Stephanie's husband Paul had prepared. He's a real foodie, and is especially adventurous with meat. That night he served ostrich. Little cubes of brown meat that looked like steak.
So the kids and I were sitting in this nice hotel lounge, listening to the band. I ordered Shirley Temples for them and an Espresso Martini for me. I'd had one there years ago, and never forgot it. It looks like muddy creek water, but it's good.
The girls got maraschino cherries with stems in their drinks. So naturally, Lilah and I had to try tying the stems in a knot, inside our mouth. It's something we do, when we get maraschino cherries with stems. My friend Rick, whom I knew back at KU, was the first person I met who could pull such a feat. He demonstrated his skill in Perkins --repeatedly. I chalked it up to him being freakishly talented and good at everything, like making well-crafted and creative projects for design class, putting clothes together, having good taste...of course he would be good at this.
I forgot all about the cherry stem trick, and then several years ago, I'd heard about someone who also possessed this ability. I was amazed. I really thought maybe Rick was the only one who could do it.
Well, one day I got a drink that had a cherry stem. I looked down at the stem, and then the most amazing thing happened to me. All of a sudden, I knew how to tie a cherry stem into a knot inside my mouth. I can't tell you how I knew, I just knew, as if the knowledge I had been downloaded into my brain. If you've ever seen the Matrix, it was like when Neo knew Jujitsu. I knew! And I knew I knew. I stuck the stem into my mouth, manipulated it with my tongue and teeth, and voila! --successfully produced a knot.
From that point on, it became my parlour trick, though usually performed in bars and restaurants. I always wanted people to see the knot, so they would believe me, which meant holding up a slimy, wilted stem that had been gummed a few too many times.
I have had some failures. I can't do it if people are making me laugh, or if the cherry stem is too short. When Lilah started trying to tie knots in cherry stems too, she agreed that a longer stem was preferred.
Well, there in the Oak Room at the Intercontinental, Lilah and I worked on our stems. But mine was one of those pesky short ones. I don't think it was even a full inch long. So imagine my pride when I spit the stem out into my mouth and saw that yes, I had tied it into a knot.
It was quite an achievement! I held out the stem in the palm of my hand to show the girls. I put it on the table next to my martini. Sipped my martini smugly. How many people sitting around me could do that? Certainly not that deeply tanned, platinum blonde woman wearing the tiara and pink banner that suggested she had won some sort of contest, probably at her country club.
I slipped the stem into my purse. I wanted to hang onto it. Maybe I'll look at it once in a while, when I need to be inspired.