Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Slings (and Hearts) and Arrows

The last time I celebrated Valentine's Day specifically, I was 7 and a half months pregnant. My husband took me to Scaramouche, one of the chicest and most established TO restaurants having absolutely the best view. We had a table near the wall of picture windows which overlook the tree-lined streets of Toronto's toniest real estate enclave. In the distance we saw sky-scrapers abutting the waterline of Lake Ontario. It was a clear evening and all the stars were a-twinkle. The scene hearkened back to the privilege of my childhood and adolescence. (This restaurant had been the venue of my 18th birthday dinner with childhood friends I still know and love.) It spoke of a naive freedom I was soon to misplace.

By the time dessert arrived, blame it on the position of my exceedingly long baby and my rather short waist, I needed to pee every 10 minutes. I should mention that Scaramouche is famous for its awesomely creamy/fluffy/perfect coconut cream pie. They'll tell you the recipe but only if you pay them 100 bucks (no joke). I ordered the pie and swooned over it by the golden candlelight of the chichi room. But for the matter of my bladder, it was a flawless tableau.

The hormones of pregnancy are funny things. They can make you vomit three times a day for seven months. They can provide you with an extra-sensory ability to smell booze - and identify it by brand - from across a crowded room. They can cause you to laugh and cry and get with the miracle of creation. And they can, apparently, make you threaten your nice husband (of fancy dinner fame) with a fork in the hand if he touches your pie while you're off the the ladies room for the 15th time. Note to Reader: He doesn't actually like coconut.

Six weeks later, baby in tow, I no longer vomited or sported the skill of a sommelier. I had no time to pee, or drink really, and it would be a long time - years? - before I gave this holiday aka greeting card excuse another thought. Occasionally, out of nowhere, I look back on that evening with affection for the girl I was. Can't remember what I wore, alas, no doubt it was a tent. But I won't soon forget swirls of coconut cream on a perfect flake crust. Glasses clinking, ambient music and correct, attentive waiters in their penguin duds. Won't forget the curls of steam and smoke frozen in the dusky February air. I guess it's true, really: Freedom is wasted on the free.


  1. Is Prego still on Bloor? When I lived in TO one summer it was a lovely restaurant. And of course Dr. Cheese and the Cake Lady on Brunswick Ave. I loved the Sarah Bernhardts there!

  2. Hey Miss C: Prego is still there. Still yummy, if it can be believed. Dr. Cheese and Cake Lady long gone. Can't remember how long gone. What year were you in TO? You've had such an interesting life: modelling, writing, teaching, parenting. How have you had the time?! :-)