Pitti Uomo: Day 3, pt. 2: A Long Night
David and I leave the hotel and head to Luisaviaroma, where 99% of everything is shit. Saint Laurent is the shittiest of the shit, and when David asks me if I can think of anyone who would wear it, I’m stumped. It is even worse in person than in photos.
We check out the sneaker wall, and talk about Lanvin captoes and Kris Van Krazy Laces, both of which David likes. Then he shows me everything that’s wrong with all of the suits they carry. The only one that receives any kind of approval is a midnight blue Armani wool/silk/elastane suit that he says he would wear out the door to dinner.
After that we head to PN\P Firenze, and meet Marco, the owner. I won’t spoil everything that’s to come in our write-up of the store, but we try a lot of stuff on, and David actually looks pretty good squeezed into an MA+ aviator. We have to meet Stephanie, who is Styleforum’s Huddler liaison, at the Baptistery, so we make plans to return the next day for more fun with brands like CCP and Forme d’Expression. We realize en route that “The Bspoaptistery” is actually a pretty large place to meet, but thankfully we spot Stephanie.
The three of us find Prosecco in a quiet, completely empty bar that offers R&B lounge music and complimentary bland pieces of food for you to stab with toothpicks. Prosecco comes. I pull out my phone, because I have a terrible memory and need to take notes 24 hours a day if I want anything to stay in my brain.
We toast ourselves. I wonder if Stephanie is happy to be forced into the company of two sweaty dudes who like clothes and talking about shoe construction (David liked the Goodyear-welted Guidi boots – I don’t blame him).
We talk about sales, as it’s kind of our lowest common denominator. It's almost interesting. I mean, it’s not, but we’re trying. We get another glass of Prosecco. We talk money, page views, Streetwear and Menswear. David says there's more ‘herding’ in CM. I feel vindicated.
“Want to watch David try on $5000 leather jacket?” I ask Stephanie
“Maybe if it's a full leather suit,” she says
“You bring the whip,” he says
Greg arrives in a storm of infuriatingly complementary patterns and orders a beer. He shows us his phone, which is frantically advertising his August birthday for some reason.
Tired of bland things on sticks, we talk dinner. David’s taking us to a place he’s been every year for the last two or three or ten years, or however often it is. It turns out that he’s really useful to have whether you want directions or want to chat with a store owner. He speaks Italian very well; to the delight of everyone we meet. Plus, when I am with a guy in a suit and a tie I am treated less like a potential criminal and more like a curiosity.
David tells us the bistecca at this joint is famoso, or whatever they say in Italian. I know enough French that I can follow 80% of conversations, which is just enough to get me incredibly confused. Stephanie has an app for that, she says, and proceeds to show it to us.
“Want to share my bistecca?” Greg asks me, while we wait for a table. And wait. And keep waiting. The host gives us more Prosecco as an apology. He is incredibly Italian. There’s a table for six that they’re holding for a reservation from forty minutes ago.
We hold out for our seats, and make small talk about I don’t know what. Wooster is here, mustache reaching for the heavens, so it must be good. He's shorter than I expect, which I should have expected. I take a picture of the three of them drinking Prosecco. Greg looks miserable.
Finally, we are seated. “You have to eat for six now,” says the waiter.
“We’ll eat for six,” says Greg, and then points at me. “He’ll drink for six.” What?
The menu comes. “Is Styleforum paying for this?” I ask. Stephanie says that Huddler is, because this is business
Game on.Mozzarella di buffola, ravioli, spaghetti, papparedelle, osso buco, bistecca,
salads of shaved raw artichoke and pecorino. I don’t think we’re going to go hungry. Stephanie is adamant that Huddler is carrying the tab, but her voice quivers a little bit.
Somehow I end up in charge of the wine list. I know nothing about wine, except how to drink it. I try to keep the waiter below what I think is a reasonable price, and we settle on something that he completely ignores. Minutes later he reappears with a magnum of something I'm sure I can't afford. Greg reminds us that he doesn’t drink wine. I thought the French were cultured? Stephanie is already getting nervous.
This is how you make friends, right? Just maybe not with Huddler.
The mozzarella comes. It's the best fucking mozzarella I've ever eaten. I'm not kidding. It's transcendent. Ovolini
– I have to ask the waiter about the big ones.
“Balls. Bull’s balls,” he says.
Greg's artichoke (yes, we share) is also delicious. Wooster is outside with his posse, smoking a cigarette. I take an awkward window photo of him, because I’m a journalist.
The ravioli comes. It is full of spinach and ricotta, served with deep-fried crisp sage leaves. Greg asks if you can eat that part. I begin to doubt that he is actually French. He has ordered, for the third night, spicy spaghetti with bacon. “Whenever there's bacon in it I get it,” he says. The man is obsessed with meat.
Stephanie looks more nervous. Unlike David, she actually does
look like someone I went to college with, and this time I know exactly who. At least we didn't order truffles, which feature in all of tonight’s special dishes. Everyone is making penis jokes. We have fallen so far. The magnum seems to still be very full.
Greg gets denied by Junya over dinner. Wooster is gone, having never, to our knowledge, eaten anything. This does not change my opinion of the food.
“I always save room for dessert,” says Greg. “It's a life philosophy. Think about it.” I do think about it, and I write it down, too.
People are taking pictures of the host. I resolve to do so as well. I forgot my chapstick. No, I didn't. A guy in a bloggable hat walks by.Osso buco
comes, a monstrous serving. There is saffron in the sauce. I luxuriate in Venusian rice and tender meat. I am in heaven. My food has less structure than a Barena jacket. I film the arrival of Greg’s bistecca
, which he is sharing with Stephanie, who looks slightly less worried now that the wine is three-quarters empty. The video is incoherent; the only identifiable portions are the arrival of the meat, Greg breaking down and taking an iPhoto of it like a goddamn foodie, and my disembodied voice telling him it’s a bistecca
worthy of his beard.
I have some of Greg's meat. “I told you that you could have some of my bistecca
,” he says. I pretend I don’t see him raise his eyebrow.
David is at halftime on his osso buco
. “I've only had two bites,” I say, contemplating the ravioli in my stomach, which is itself nestled atop a pillar of finest buffala
“How?” he says. “It’s so good!”
“I was distracted by Greg's meat,” I say. The bistecca
is the size of a small baby.
“It's very distracting,” Stephanie says. She and Greg are sharing, but I wouldn’t read anything into it.
I ask Stephanie if she likes reading SF. She says yes but it sounds like a lie. Osso buco
is stuck in my teeth. We are talking about mothering
forums now, which is also something that Huddler does.
My bone marrow is delicious. I have finished half of my veal. I am not sure I will live through the other half.
“This is madness,” I say, then pause. “This is Pitti!”
“#Nailed it,” says David. We fist bump.
More food is eaten. Stephanie and Greg have made no visible progress on their meat baby. It is looming, bloody and triumphant.
“Pitti is like a bistecca
,” I say. At the time it sounds philosophical, and everyone nods thoughtfully, but I can’t remember what my reasoning was.
The waiter asks if we want dessert.
“Yes,” says Greg, “I saved room.”
No one can finish the bistecca
. My rice is untouched. I am a failure. I have let myself down. I have let Styleforum down. I have let down all of Italy.
The waiter wants to know what to do with the leftover steak. He offers it to Greg, who refuses. He offers it to Stephanie, for breakfast. She says no. He insists.
“No,” says Stephanie, “I leave tomorrow.”
I know that she doesn’t leave tomorrow because we just talked about it.
“You leave tomorrow?!” I say. The waiter looks at me.
“Oh, I get it,” I tell the table, and fall silent. I am a master of tact.
“You got baited into that one,” says David. “By someone who is very good at baiting. What would you call someone who is an expert at baiting?”
I refuse to answer.
The dessert menu arrives. Stephanie fiddles with her hair. It’s too late
, I think to myself. Espresso is her only concession. I think I got my hair cut too recently. I should have done it far earlier, so it would have been nice and shaggy for Pitti. No one will blog it now. Someone on Styleforum says it looks like David’s, and that is unacceptable. I have an image to preserve.
Greg says that Italian dessert is only one step above Chinese dessert. I am only familiar with fortune cookies, but I like my crème caramel
. Which is French.
He may have a point.Limoncello
is provided. David trades Stephanie for a sip of his grappa. So it begins.
There is an awkward silence when the drinks are gone. Why? We need more liquor, probably.
Stephanie says her phone doesn't work. She pulls it out. It won’t connect to any networks, and she can’t use it for anything.
“Does anyone want to service this for me?” she says.
“Whoa,” I say.
“That's you, J,” says David.
“Whoa,” I say.
The wine is almost finished. The bill comes. I watch Stephanie's face very carefully. She doesn't even look at it, and instead shows us all a picture of Harrison, her cockapoo.
We talk about Insane Clown Posse as the waiter takes Stephanie’s money.
“Why do they call them juggalos?” I say.
David makes a juggling motion and says "clowns juggle.” Years of confusion are annihilated in an instant.
Time to pee. I head downstairs, where I’m relieved to see that we’re not the only ones left in the restaurant. I can’t find the toilet, and have to walk back up, embarrassed. A waitress leads me all the way to the bathroom door. The band that's playing sounds like Metric but in Italian.
When I come back, David says that he saw Bubbles from The Wire in Vegas. I have no idea who that is.
“I thought you meant bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.” Says Stephanie
“I thought you meant bubbles from Power Puff Girls,” I say.
My phone dies as we take a final picture of the servers.
We wander around, and it turns out that Greg’s hotel bar is closed. So we go to Gilli, which is insane, though not as insane is it looked the night before, when I walked past it on my way home from Mr. Fucking Pizza.
We walk in. We order drinks. We take the drinks coupon to the bartenders, who are in tailcoats. One of them has a mustache that would be perfect for Pitti. Gilli is a wonderful place; both incredibly expensive while at the same time impressively unfriendly. Gin and tonic for Stephanie and me, rum for Greg. Communicating the idea of “rum” to the bartender proves weirdly difficult. David is not paying attention, so I order him Jack Daniels, no ice. Gotta keep the theme running, here.
We talk, we drink, it’s crowded. Famous people are there. Or at least that’s what Greg says. He could be fucking with me. I would have no idea.
David is the first to succumb to fatigue and common sense, shortly followed by Greg. Both of them leave their drinks. Stephanie and I herd them into our corral of liquor. By this point I have borrowed a pen and am scribbling on napkins. I have already forgotten most of dinner, and when I look down at what I’ve written on the crumpled paper I don’t expect that I’ll be able to read any of it in the morning.
Stephanie and I elect to have another drink. I suggest the Mario, which is what the bartender is currently making for someone else. Mario comes. He is bitter.
“I’ve been needing Tums lately,” says Stephanie. I nod sagely. We talk about Styleforum and Pitti and how ridiculous it is, and Stephanie, who is beginning to slur ever so slightly, assures me that I am doing a “great job.” We talk about the affiliate dinner, and how unfortunate it is that Stephanie missed all the fun. She asks who attended; I tell her.
“Off the record?" Begins Stephanie, and then proceeds to tell me several very complimentary things that shall be nonetheless stricken from this chronicle.
“Really off the record.”
I make a note of this on my napkin. Stephanie crosses it out. I write “Off the record.” We continue, very much off the record.
I hear an English accent behind us and introduce myself. It’s Scottish, actually, but his friend is English, from Yorkshire.
“I used to live in Yorkshire,” I say, getting very excited. I hand him a card and spill my drink on both him and his friend. Perfect. I’m glad that Stephanie has taken this opportunity to go to the bathroom. I apologize to the two men, and they laugh it off but make a joke about sending me a dry cleaning bill. I think it’s a joke, at least. Hopefully they threw away my card. Styleforum is making an excellent showing at Pitti this year.
Stephanie reappears, hiccupping.
“Don’t misquote me,” she says, and then reminds me that we are really definitely very off the record.
She thinks for a minute. “I want to see that bodacious babe.” This time she's on the record, talking about the Birth of Venus and her reservation at the Uffizi on Saturday.
I see the Scotsman in the bathroom, and we both agree that David Moyes is having a terrible time of it this season. I think he’s just being polite.
Back at the bar, Stephanie is making a face at her drink, which really is quite bitter. For some reason, she decides to squeeze a lemon into it. The bartender winces and tries to stop her, but he is too late. This does not make Mario taste better.
“Super Mario,” she calls it. The bartender, who maybe even looks like a taller, thinner Super Mario, finds this very funny.
She tries to pass it off to her neighbor, who refuses. Disaster.
The neighbor and his friend introduce themselves. They make socks, or something like that. I wonder if they are in favor of child labor laws. The bar has really thinned out. We don’t want to talk about socks. They ask Stephanie what’s in her drink. She starts showing them her app for Italian. No one knows why.
Eventually, they leave.
The bartender adds soda to Stephanie’s drink, which doesn’t help things.
“Super Mario is the winner,” he says. Stephanie tries to laugh.
They kick us out at some point; by which I mean that we take a hint when the garbage bags appear, and we leave on an unintentional tour of Il Duomo, passing a not-so-young couple who are lying on the steps of a very old building but are, thankfully, clothed.
We part ways shortly thereafter, but Stephanie’s confused gesticulations and declarations that she’s “pretty sure” that she’s on the right street make me wonder if she’s going to survive the uneven paving stones.
I pass the lovebirds on the way back to my hotel, where the concierge is surprisingly chipper. He never changes, though, and I doubt that he’s really all that happy to see me. It seems pretty late. I find my room and look at my phone. It’s 5:15.