A Wedding in Paris – Serious Bling!

Thanksgiving Day 2014, Joy and Kellen are getting married…in PARIS.

This is 14 months, almost to the day, of Jenny and Kennen’s wedding on the good ship Jeremiah O’Brien near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. In fact, Kellen informed me the night of that wedding that he was going to propose (with my permission) to Joy during their trip through Napa Valley the next day. (Actually, I lied. He didn’t ask permission. He knows I adore him. End of story.)

Joy’s gown is fabulous. I’ve seen pictures. And her accessories look like something out of a Hollywood set. Needless to say, we don’t have to ‘dress down’ for this wedding. Joy wants se camper, (tasteful of course) glitz and glam.

So here I am in Bali trying to prepare a wardrobe worthy of the occasion. November in Paris is cold, really cold compared to the tropics where the thermometer hovers around a cozy 85+ degrees F in November and rarely falls below 75 even in wintertime. So the first item on the list, before dress, shoes, or jewelry, is a coat. Right. Good luck finding a warm coat in Bali.

There’s a new shop across the street from my bank. I complete my transaction and wander over for a look. To my utter, joyful surprise there is a rack of down, thigh-length jackets, and not mere jackets, but jackets with a detachable down vest inside! I go faint. But ecstasy is short-lived. They are all size large and the sleeves reach past my fingertips by a good four inches. “Ohhhh,” I moan. “Do you have a small size?” The clerk is sympathetic but assures me that this particular coat comes only in large.

“You can try our store in Denpasar. Maybe they have small,” she says, slipping a flyer with the address into my hand.

Ketut gets directions to the shop and on a morning drenched in sunshine, we set out. All the main streets are one-way in Denpasar, so we do a few loops around the designated area where we’ve been assured we will find Toko Millennia stopping four or five times to seek additional guidance. At last we pull into a two-story strip mall parking area and ask once more. There are no signs anywhere to indicate what retail opportunities await. “Oh yes, that way,” says the parking attendant. The lot is empty. Ketut hooks the helmets to the bike and we enter the building. A guard points us to the escalator at the other end of an open area. We pass empty space after empty space in semi-gloom. It’s a mall burial ground and we are the lone living souls there to pay our last respects. At the top of the moving stairs, like a beacon from heaven, the glow of Toko Millennia welcomes us inside. “Creepy,” I say and Ketut agrees.

I hold my breath and skirt the perimeter of the large, well lit store. About 3/4 of the way around, there they are, a whole rack of the coat/vest combo I’d seen in Ubud. For just a heartbeat I wonder why they’re in the men’s section, but dismiss it as unimportant. I find the color combination I like, gray coat, gold vest, and try it on. Large. Okay, maybe black and silver. Large. A petite clerk eyes me. “Do you have small?” I ask.

“No Ibu. These for man. No small.” My heart thunders to my feet. Of course. “Maybe you like woman jacket?” she shyly asks.

“Oh! You have this for women?” It’s almost too good to be true. In the next breath I see that it isn’t true. The woman’s jacket is a completely different animal, streamlined, a dark slate color with detachable hood and detachable rabbit fur outlining the detachable hood. But it’s down-filled, and there’s only one. I slip it on and turn to the mirror. Hmmm. It fits me like an Italian leather glove. I twist to view the back. Nice! For the first and only time in my life I don’t even glance at the price tag. “Yes, I’ll take it,” I tell the smiling girl.

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Back at home I review my list. Coat. Check!

It’s one thing to shop for an item when I know exactly what I want and where to go to get it. In such cases Ketut is a perfect escort. But I need shoes. There is no way I’m going shoe shopping with a Balinese man. I discuss my dilemma with Nina. “We need a girls’ day out!” she says and actually seems excited about the idea. We pick a date and she tells me the stores we’ll be visiting in the Mal Galeria. “So make a list of every girlie thing you want to get and we’ll do it all,” she says.

Yesterday at 9 a.m., helmeted and happy, I climb on the back of Nina’s red and white Scoopy and off we go. The miles fly by as we chatter about hypoglycemia,  the feng shui of color, and other topics that would never pass muster with Ketut. First stop, the food court. Over my Cap Cay and Nina’s Nasi Goreng Spesial, we plan the attack, a swing through shoe shops to see what’s available, then on to Hypermart, Ace Hardware, and back to shoes for the kill. As we browse footwear I’m surprised at the number of options I have and the images of spike heels, platforms, and wedges swirl in my head as we move on to Ace.

The display at the front of the store stops me cold in my tracks. Drills. I have plaster walls and stuff to hang on them. There’s one drill in the community and multiple building projects. Waiting for that tool to show up at my house could take weeks. As I finger the drill bits and marvel at the sale price two gentlemen join me at the display. The elderly one, a shock of white hair and cancerous purple lips in a liverspotted face, invades my personal space. “Where are you from?” he croaks.

“America.”

“This won’t work in America unless you change the cord, I suppose you could change the cord, but it might not work anyway.”

“I live here.”

“Oh. In that case, this is a very good drill for you.”

Nina and I edge away from the display and the over-eager gent. “Someone should look at those lips,” she says. “Did you see how purple they were? I’ll bet he has cancer and nobody’s told him. He really should have those checked!”

“Nina!” I don’t usually bark at my hypochondriac friend, but she’s like a pit-bull on a rabbit when anything medical hit’s her radar. “Let it go!”

“Yes, but…”

“Nina!”

“Okay, okay!”

She locates the bath area for me and I find the perfect shower caddy and adhesive hooks. As we’re checking out she says, “Did you want that drill?”

With a drill and shower caddy in tow, we head back to shoes. Now it’s time to get serious. We return to Matahari, the Macy’s of Bali. “Show me what you like so I can help you look,” she says, and I point out black, fully enclosed pumps with a little detailing.

We separate and I find myself face-to-face with a Peter Keiza display.  “Wow!” I breathe to no one in particular. The shoes are over-the-top show-stoppers, silver heels, rhinestones, studs, bling on top of bling. Dazzled, I turn away and find Nina who has a handful of possibilities.

“What size?” she asks.

“No idea.”

“38? 40? Let’s try 38.”

“How about 40, I say. I like that pair,” I indicate one of the choices she’s snagged for me. She hails a clerk and issues the command to fetch in her perfect, fluent, Indonesian. He scuttles away.

“Will you watch my bags for just a sec?”

“Sure,” she says and I’m off like a bullet lured by the Siren call of Peter Keiza. I grab several glittery choices and race back. “Oooh!” says Nina when she sees them. Bless her for not pointing out that what I have in my hand in no way resembles what I indicated to her that I wanted. I try them all, several different sizes in each style, and settle on one of Peter’s.

When I approach check-out the woman who is about to ring me up says, “Do you want 20% off these or a second pair free?” Huh? Does any self-respecting woman opt for 20% off when she can have two pair for the price of one? Not likely. The second time I appear at check-out with two brazen bling-y Keiza selections, the ringer says, “You qualify for 50,000 rupiah off your next purchase. Here’s the coupon but it must be used today.” I shoot Nina a disbelieving and apologetic grimace.

“You go ahead and look,” she tells me.”I’m going back to Hypermart to buy a CD player. Just come up and meet me when you’re finished.”

Somehow we manage to pack two shoeboxes, a drill, a CD player, a shower caddy, and 5 shirts that I didn’t mention, onto the bike along with our own tired bodies for the hour drive home. It isn’t comfortable, but it is an accomplishment. As we pull into Ubud around 5:30 the smell of wood fired pizza assails our noses. “Mama Mia’s! Limoncello! Beer!” we chortle in unison. Nina swerves the bike into a parking spot and moments later we’re wiping road grime off our faces while toasting an excellent end to a perfect girls’ day out.

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Thank you, ace biker mama and patient friend, Nina! You’re the best!

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Where’s the Mother-of-the-Bride?

The mother of the bride isn’t tough to find. She’s me. I’m her. But the mother-of-the-bride DRESS? Now there’s an elusive thought! I had a date with Jenny yesterday to hunt that thing down, kill it, and drag it home.

So mid-afternoon, I strapped on my Merrell’s, tucked my ‘cute-but-deadly shoes’ into my carrying bag, and set out for the mile walk to Bay Area Rapid Transit, aka BART. Bart and I have a love/hate relationship. But yesterday it was mostly love as his body, ten cars long, glided to a stop in front of me.

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Rockridge Bart Platform

The air felt freshly scrubbed offering a clear view of the San Francisco skyline across the bay. I whipped out my camera to record the scene as Bart pulled up but Mr. Business Commuterman walked in front of the shot. No second chances with Bart, if I didn’t catch him quick he’d leave me faster than a slippery bill passes through Congress.

I met Jenny at the appointed time and place. She works in the Twitter Building. Yes, the very same Twitter as in the social media phenomenon that has swept the globe. We whisked up to the One King’s Lane offices and I felt like I’d stepped into a scene from 3001 Space Odyssey.

I’ll spare lengthy descriptions, but basically there are no walls. Picture a full city block sized space filled with acres of countertop where every three feet is a very youngish person staring at a very large computer monitor. Often the youngish person is staring at two monster screens at once.

Jen introduced her fossilized mom to co-workers who seemed properly impressed by my advanced age, and we set out for the task at hand.

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compliments of adage.com

Another adventure awaited when we hit the street. Jenny whipped out her phone and sent a quick text. “I’m getting a Lyft,” she said, “It’s an App,” and showed me the screen. There was a map with a dot for us and a dot for, “Hi! I’m Sally, your driver. I’m 3 minutes away.”

In three minutes, there was Sally in our pink-mustachioed Lyft car. Jenny jumped into the front seat and I took the back. We exchanged gang greetings (fist bumps all around, evidently a requirement) and sped away. Sally offered us water and gum. I took water, Jenny took gum.

By the time we reached Union Square we knew that Sally teaches yoga in Oakland and just opened a new studio, has a workshop coming up called yogapuncture or some such, that starts with ashtanga yoga and ends with acupuncture. No money exchanged hands as we exited the car. “It comes right out of my Lyft account,” Jen explained when I wanted to know how Sally gets paid. “It’s automatic.” Like I said, 3001 Space  Odyssey.

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Jenny in front of the red heart in Union Square

Union Square bustles. It’s also windy. We paused for quick photos and bee-lined for Macy’s. My cute feet already hurt. Jenny, still wearing the adorable, high-heeled chambers of torture she’d had on all day, was miserable. When she learned that I was packing Merrell’s she acquisitioned them for the rest of the afternoon.

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An opposite view of Union Square and Macy’s

Macy’s has no lack of dresses. One would think, in a veritable wonderland of retail bliss, there would be hundreds of options. First we gathered our arms full of possibilities. Then I zippered in and out of all of them as Jenny either thumbed up or thumbed down. Mostly she just said, “Ahhh, no.” “Nope, not that one.” “Ummmm maybe not.”  After hours we had three outfits. It took about a minute and a half to nix them all. We looked at each other and stated the obvious: “Food!”

A quick Bart ride later we were back in Oakland at Noodle Theory sucking down cold beer and feasting on beef udon and salmon whatchama ching chang choo. It was a perfect day.

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