funny horrifying uncomfortable awkward cool
Posted 13 October 2003 - 06:34 PM
Will you share what was the funniest thing ever to happen to you while writing food things?
Posted 14 October 2003 - 09:41 AM
Funniest? There's been a lot of fun, by not much in the way of wacky. One exception (and again from my Herald days), I got an assignment from another feature editor, this one totally crazy, to do a piece on what was billed as "the opening of the legendary Rudy Vallee wine cellar." He had died the year before and they were talking auction and stuff, part of a general and ongoing liquidation, it turns out.
I got to the Vallee house a little early, it was at the top of one of the Hollywood Hills. Amazing place, it had a turntable in the driveway because there wasn't enough room to turn a car around. It also had been plundered through years of high living and not working. Picture a grand Moorish castle filled with furniture from Sears. At a certain point the widow Vallee came to meet us (there was also a group of touring Italian restaurateurs) and take us to the cellar. On the way down we passed through Rudy Vallee's private auditorium, complete with stage and mini-museum (one exhibit was a fully nude, fairly dated photograph of the Widow Vallee--when he met her, he was in his 60s, she was a 15-year-old Vegas showgirl ... you get the picture). After much oohing and aahing by the restaurateurs, we made it to the fabled cellar, which was actually located under the tennis court, stacked up against an outside south-facing wall, protected by chicken wire. Take the wine selection at your neighborhood 7-11 and you've got a pretty good idea of the contents. There was a publicist there, an actual old-time Hollywood publicist, and he came over and told me, you know something about wine, the TVs are coming, why don't you pick something out to open? I told him I presumed he meant something without a screwtop and that that might be a challenge. I did dig through the racks, though and I spotted what looked like a thick wax capsule. I pulled it out and it was a 1961 Chateau Trotanoy, truly a diamond in a coal mine. I very carefully removed it from the rack and took it over to the guy. This is really something, I said, but I'm not sure you want to open it. Of course I do, he told me and grabbed the bottle by its neck and waved it over his head "Look what the guy from the Herald found!" He pulled a corkscrew and proceeded to try to pop the cork through the capsule, shattering the cork in teh process. I finally cleaned up the last bits I could get ... he poured a couple of glasses and at just that moment, he leader of the restaurant group, an old friend of the Widow Vallee, spied the bottle. I saw them join in an urgent whispered coversation and she came running over. "Press conference is over!" she shouted, giving me a really dirty look.