We spent yesterday in Billings. Due
to inclement weather we drove up
the afternoon prior and stayed at the
Northern Hotel. Given it was rather
frigid we opted to dine at TEN it's
restaurant. Two hours later we were
both certain we'd made a mistake.
Why do some chefs still insist on
putting complex items on the menu
that even they obviously can't cook
correctly? Less is more so I'll keep
my diner review short and sweet -
Complexity or quantity doesn't equal
quality. Much like accessorizing and
ensemble - piling it on only makes
you look like a Brassai madam. Sadly
the art of simplicity is something few
seem to easily master. Especially in
our world of over the top bling, it's
virtually impossible to separate the
wheat from the chaff. The very idea
that one can hide inferiority behind
excess embellishment is but a fool's
dream at best. Hence in the future
"Tuscan" will define white elephant.
Elegance is rare indeed. However true
gentility is even rarer. Years ago I was
walking up Fifth Avenue. As I waited
to cross I spied a tiny lady of advanced
vintage. There stood Lillian Gish in all
of her timeless beauty. A true fan, I had
to stop her and gush. "Miss Gish, I'm
one of your biggest fans." To which
she graciously replied "It's nice to
know that at least one of you is still
alive." While she didn't have to, Miss
Gish allowed me to gush for the next
five minutes. Talk about a class act.
Often it's the little things that count.
My grandmother was a tiny birdlike
lady. At five foot three, the heart of
a lion beat beneath her diminutive
demeanor. A lifelong resident of
Manhattan's Riverside Drive, by her
mid seventies that neighborhood had
become rough. One evening she was
attacked and beaten her horrifically.
However she refused to let go of her
handbag. Ultimately her mugger gave
up bagless. However Nana didn't until
she'd picked him out of a police lineup.
Three times a charm
As a teen I visited an old folks home
with my church youth group. Somehow
I fell in love with a lady in her nineties
named Sadie Robb. Soon I was visiting
her weekly and we became dear friends
until her death. For whatever reason we
were kindred spirits and never lacked
for something to chat about. A former
beauty, she barely hit five feet in heels.
Yet even after losing almost everything,
she kept up her standards. Changing
ensembles for breakfast, lunch, and of
course... dinner. Now that's a survivor!
Sadly those tiny ladies of times past are
but a memory. Whether due to better
nutrition or genetic evolution we all
stand much taller. That's probably good
given most men of lesser stature rarely
handle their limitations with aplomb.
Instead they tend to over compensate to
Napoleonic proportions. In the end size
really doesn't matter. Those who keep it
short and sweet usually win. Therefore
it's all about when and how one rises to
the occasion. Nothing is as elegant as
brevity, compassion, and kindness.