After a quick shower back at the hotel, I stare at myself in the mirror. I look like a potato on stilts. My trousers, hemmed by me at unequal lengths when I was learning to use a sewing machine, are laughably short, and my only blazer, in an unseasonal cream, is similarly cropped. My shirt is too small, and my neck is overpowering the spread collar. I’m like a blogger’s worst nightmare. I’m like my own worst nightmare. I look like I'm about to tip over.
The dinner is for some of Styleforum's affiliates. We’ve got David (@unbelragazzo), Greg (@gdl203), Patrik (@Leaves), and @other people too whose handles I don’t know, including a pair of Spaniards, José and Leticia, from La Portegna. Beside the fact that they make really nice travel accessories, Spaniards are my favorite people in the world.
I shake hands with a lot people dressed way more nicely than I am, and I’m pretty sure that David is trying to run game on the female half of La Portegna. Yeah, I noticed. I see you sharing that bistecca for two. It's getting hot in here, and it's not just ‘cause there's like fifty dudes in suits squeezed into an airless basement. Meanwhile, Kirby, of hanger project fame, is really excited about hangers. I guess that’s fitting. Thankfully, wine comes.
There's an ancient Italian guy behind me who sounds like Darth Vader, and I do my best to ignore him while talking to José about La Liga, Real Madrid, Bilbao, and communists. Txakolí and pintxos, too. Then the economics discussion begins and I pull out my phone. I guess affiliates care about that sort of thing, but I busy myself with notes, vino, and staring at the other guests, like the Swedish dudes at the far end of the table. They sell nice shoes. They have gloves in the chest pockets of their overcoats. This intimidates me. Patrik is definitely trouble. I know this because he’s 6’5 and Swedish. How the fuck do you say Skoaktiebolaget? God, it’s hot.
Food comes. A caprese salad, then a papardelle with wild boar ragu. People bring up dreams and psychoanalysis, I make a penis joke, and crash hard. Only Leticia laughs. Your move, David.
I think we're drinking Chianti. Is there anything else in Italy? A second bottle appears, cold. The room is getting warmer. Voices are getting louder. Pocket squares are exploding out of chest pockets. The post-meal slouch is prevalent. Unsurprisingly, the Swedish guys are awesome. Patrik is imitating English spoken by Scandinavians, which involves lisping. I’m not sure it’s accurate.
The Last Supper, Synthese, 2014
We order dessert. I opt for crème caramel and limoncello. Is that allowed? Inexplicably, even after I down the limoncello, no one has finished the wine. I take the last half-glass upon myself, only to give up on it while discussing forum aesthetics. Yeah, sure, I know stuff. I’m a professional.
Every time Kirby talks about Styleforum, he calls it 'The Styleforum,' which I don't understand. I ask him why he does it, and his answer is unsatisfactory.
We've moved on. The conversation has left me behind. We're talking about social media; about something which actually is called "The Fancy," which just makes me think of cat food. Product photos are discussed, along with how to make them better. Production countries are mentioned. Kirby says "bad lighting" more than three times. I stare at my phone, tunnel vision looming. I'm melting. Later I’m going to have to put on a coat again. David is leaning closer to Leticia. I might be sweating through my blazer.
I think I hear Kirby says he's Texan. I am not surprised. I am also not surprised that it's now 23:37. We've been here since eight. Greg says it's just about pumpkin time. He'll be here almost all week.
Finally, dinner is over. Patrik declares that it's time for vodka. Has anyone seen my chapstick, I say, It's cherry flavored. I peer at the floor for a few minutes before finding it in the chest pocket of my coat.
We walk to a bar conveniently located next door to the restaurant. It boasts an Easy Rider plaque, and Freddy Mercury and David Bowie are performing a duet on Rock TV, which, in addition to Queen videos, seems to focus on ACDC and G ‘n R. We get stared at. Patrik is a scarily huge Viking dude in an overcoat, and Greg's beard is looking fine. Patrik orders a round and sings us a Swedish drinking song. I think I'm getting a headache. Another round is procured. I opt out, and Greg and I talk about brand selection and retail. I hear something about beards, shaving and penises from the David/Patrik/La Portegna corner. Then something about shrimp with mayonnaise. People are starting to get worried that I’m taking notes.
“I’d totally do Angela Merkel,” says Patrik. It's not exactly a non-sequitur but it might as well be.
The later it gets, the more I think that David looks like someone I know. Maybe someone I went to college with. But he's like six years older than me, so that's probably not true.
"How many of you guys have a giant hammer?" Greg asks Patrik.
"Wanna take a look?" he says.
I accept a Jack Daniels while Patrik draws a pear for the bartender in order to describe some god-awful Swedish shot. She thinks he’s drawing a body part. And then he continues to down liquor with the ease of a 7'12 Viking. Rammstein comes on. “Is this Spanish metal?” asks Greg. No, I say, this is Ze Germans.
Someone thinks it’s a good idea to give us free shots of Jaegermeister. Does that mean we're doing things right? I barely got here from my hotel, and have no idea how I'm going to get back.
ACDC comes on again. I focus on my water bottle. 1 euro 50; fancier than I was expecting. It's loud. The headache is looming. Kirby and Greg and Patrik are talking about sales again. Patrik has somehow inhaled more Jaegermeister. He is huge, physically and metaphorically.
‘Enter Sandman’ comes on. Patrik is talking about Swedish taxes. I don't even pretend to listen. I notice a disco ball that may or may not have been on the whole time. Greg says he'd go back in time just to check for me, and I am touched. Patrik says something about France going to hell. Who the fuck talks about economics over drinks? "Exit light," screams Rock TV. I find myself wanting to touch Greg's beard.
I walk out the door with Patrik. He accosts Italians on the street. And then the police. I pretend not to know him until I realize he just wants directions, and together we make our way to Santa Maria Novella. Impossibly, I find Il Duomo, and then my street. I walk back in forth in front of the hotel a few times, finally locate the entrance, and ring the buzzer. It’s 2:30 AM.
2. The famous doods from last year who were wearing the crazy hats and shadow boxing with each other. A million MCers got their panties in a bunch about it. I even found a similar hat and posted a fit pic in homage. Those guys. Find them and tell them I said 'sup and that they are awesome.
This looks like whnay.'s friend who, as I recall, is/was buyer at Sid Mashburn.