|Posted on 2004-05-03 06:51:00 by Denver|
|In Florida, in Fort Lauderdale, at the Marriot Resort & Spa, in the Miami Room - a group of men plotted the aesthetic strategies of flower arrangement. Patrick Pacheco, Chad Herrington, and myself sipped lattes and took a smoke break on the veranda.|
"These are gonna look beautiful on the gold linen," said Patrick, the florist who dressed mansions in Manhattan.
"I love the Thai leaves," Chad said. He was the Operations Director. This job required his taste, his eye for details, his Spanish and French, his knowledge of color, his diplomacy with female management, and his skill with a palm pilot.
"Denver, are you ready to paint?" Patrick asked. My task that day was to paint the "beaks" on the tropical Birds of Paradise flower gold.
I had a three quarter inch brush and a bottle of liquid leaf classic gold.
"I'd like to suggest that we move to a smaller brush." I said.
"We don't have one. Let's go." Patrick insisted, "You can use the sponge brush if you don't like it."
Peter, the owner of the company, returned from his tennis lesson and joined us in our preparations. He sat next to me and picked up one of the flowers.
"Be careful with your strokes" he said to me.
"I was," said Patrick, "just going to add, don't spend too much time on each one. Just get the gold on there. Like it's been dipped. It doesn't have to be perfect."
"Yes it does," said Peter, "You can listen to him or you can listen to me. And I own this company."
I enjoyed painting the flowers. It was like wrapping an Yves St. Laurent evening gown on a very glamorous naked woman. Each flower became a piece of art. There were a lot of them; we were doing center pieces for forty ten tops in the Grand Ballroom that evening. Peter and I had to work fast. Patrick was cutting Thai leaves and Chad was on the phone trying to find more gold liquid leaf at art supply stores in the greater Fort Lauderdale area.
Each floral arrangement matched the linen, the lighting, and the twelve foot Southern Florida palm trees that had been rented from a local nursery and placed in strategic corners of the room.
"Where do you like to eat in the city?" I asked Peter, a gay man in his late fifties with a slightly English accent, a globe trotting career, and a cosmopolitan air. Huge corporations and rich CEO's relied on his taste in décor and his sense of protocol for their conferences, retreats, and other special occasions. I had heard he was in charge of the hospitality at the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. I wondered if we ever ate in the same place in Manhattan.
"Da Silva" he said. I knew it but I had never been there. "They're very good people," he continued, "They give back. I helped them once, they wanted to host a benefit and I suggested GMHC. That was a charity that a lot of their patrons supported, and it was very successful. What's your favorite restaurant?"
"Well, I haven't been to all those fancy French places like Jean-Georges, but I think, if had to pick one, Babbo." I said.
The room fell silent. This man, who could afford to dine at any restaurant in the city, who had lived in Manhattan longer than I had been on earth, either hated Mario Battali's flagship restaurant or wasn't interested in going.
"I'm going to take my boyfriend to Da Silva for his birthday," Chad said, "Peter, do you think I could get a reservation for two next week? Or do you think you might be able to get me a table?"
"I think so." Said Peter.
"You're certainly welcome to join us," said Chad, "and you too Patrick, if you'd like."
I was new to the group, the rookie, the only straight guy, and a novice at flower arrangement.
"Be careful how you handle those stems. They break easily." Patrick warned me. It wasn't the first stern glance he'd given me that day.
'For chrissakes,' I thought, 'You could push a boat in Venice with one of these stalks. Why do I have to be careful?'
But I didn't say anything as I put the finishing touches under the mascara orange and purple blue wings blossoming from the head of my beautiful bird.
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