Do you remember Sex and the City when it was on the telly? When there was nudity and energetic shagging and Carrie was still cool and all the ladies had long lunches with scandalous topics of conversation?
Until recently, I had never had one of those lunches. Until Damana Madden arranged a ladies lunch and directed that the dress code was ‘long boots’.
The Vital Statistics:
Venue: Bird Cow Fish, 500 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Potato gnocchi with prawn meat sautéed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers & crispy sage
Langoustines, courgette and fennel salad or (to Aus-ify it as Cathie McGinn would say) yabbies with zucchini and fenn-o.
Fish & Chips
Possibly too much Veuve Cliquot
(All courtesy of the absurdly generous Damana).
I would say that this was a Geek Girl lunch but then, apparently, I would be infringing a trade mark. As a mostly law abiding lawyer I would not dream of doing so.
So it therefore came to pass that five fair geek ladies (it is my story shaddup) joined together in lifting our champagne glasses aloft aloft and talking about a number of things that turned heads and caused much tsk tsking at the other tables as follows:
Topic 1 – Breastfeeding
How we ended up talking about breastfeeding is less relevant than the public reaction to our discussion. If you ever want to get a roomful of people to go silent immediately this is the topic to do it. In fact I am pretty sure that tumble weed tumbled past for the duration of this part of our discussion. Two or three people left at one particularly graphic point. You would probably rather not be involved with the mechanics of the let down reflex and the accompanying trajectory speeds discussed or how the taste and composition of breast milk changes depending on the time of day. The accusatory fingers should quite rightly have been aimed at Kristen and I as none of the other ladies have kids. Nor are they likely to want them now, I’ll wager.
In the light of the number of stomachs we turned, I wonder how/when chef Daniel Angerer will eventually introduce his now canapé of breast-milk cheese with figs and Hungarian pepper to his Klee Brasserie clientele.
Topic 2 – Nice Smelling Stuff
Meeting people in the flesh as opposed to online involves dealing with a host of competing sensory stimuli. You see people in three rather than two dimensions – you hear the timbre and the warmth in their voices, you are bombarded with an immediate olfactory sense of that person as soon as you hug them. All of these things, in my experience, either draw you to the person or put you on fight or flight stand-by. It is something that always worries me before I met people in real life who I have formed previous online relationships with. So when you meet me please don’t be concerned if I appear to be sniffing you. If I am close enough to do so take this as a good sign. Trust me – if I don’t like the way you smell, I’ll be on the other side of the room or mouth breathing.
Perfume is a really hard thing to judge. One friend of mine disliked Coco by Chanel with such ferocity that she insisted we ate outside when I wore it. At least she was honest. We all agreed that it is becoming increasingly hard for us to find genuinely alluring and distinctive womens fragrances these days. Most perfumes are so synthetic that the top notes resemble air freshener. Alegrya mentioned her love of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab oils.
How can you resist a perfume company that uses words like indolent and judicial in relation to its scents? These days I check with Violet Lily (who blogs about fragrance and is obsessed with scent) before I buy anything new in the smell department. Her review of Alchemy Lab oils is posted here
Topic 3 – What Lies Beneath the Burqua
Kristen (who has in-laws from Kuwait) discussed how fond Arabic women are of rare scented oils. This lead us inevitably to the burqua and what Muslim women wear underneath. As a child I used to be similarly obsessed with what nuns wore under their habits and whether or not their heads were shaved. It is a bit of a shame that fewer nuns dress in the traditional habits these day. In plain clothes, nuns aren’t quite as formidable as they were when I was at school.
I have long advocated allowed people to dress to express themselves and if that involves bringing attention to their religious beliefs, so be it.
According to popular cliches (and the new Sex & the City Movie) were you to disrobe a niqabi clad woman you would find her wearing exquisite clothes and shoes, perfectly manicured nails, beautiful jewellery and yes – elegant lingerie. Recently the German lingerie brand Liaison Dangereuse has attracted a lot of positive and negative publicity for its viral ad which carries the tagline “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.”
The advert features a beautiful Muslim woman dressing in a nice bra and knickers, rolling on a pair of sheer stockings, slipping into a high heeled pumps and then donning the niqab with a theatrical flourish.
Without going into the politics of male objectification of women the advert works for me precisely because it blatantly uses our cliches against us. The most interesting question that the advert raises is – is this woman dressing for herself or for someone else? The point of view is that of the woman in question – we are voyeurs and that is how we will remain. We want to know who she is, where she is going, what she is going to do. Arguably the advert draws us in with its narrative. That is, in my view, engagement rather than objectification. Personally I find the advert for Budget “Boojay” Direct Car Insurance on Australian television and the cultural stereotypes therein are much more offensive to women.
Have a look here and judge for yourself.
Our discussion, it transpired, was prescient in that Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has since labelled the burqa ”un-Australian” and called for a ban based on his belief that it signals Muslim women’s oppression. Last time we looked at you Mr Bernardi, you were neither female nor Muslim. So back off. Fashion censorship is something that I will always oppose. If you want to wear hot pants and gold tassled cowboy boots, go for it. If you have a penchant for head to toe pink chiffon (as a friend of mine used to) and it makes you feel good, wear it with applomb. That said, I am currently trying to get the Minx to wear some clothes, any clothes in public so the well of my magnamity runs deep these days.
Topic 4: Boots – How Long are too Long?
A restaurant full of people will, we found, react strangely and slightly defensively to three women wearing OTK (over the knee) boots having their pictures taken. Strictly speaking my boots weren’t OTK until I unrolled them.
As Cathie suggested perhaps we attracted attention because we looked “stylish & vaguely terrifying, like a dominatrix army on manoeuvres“? Or perhaps it was because we had already outstayed our welcome by talking loudly the aforesaid topics.
This lead us deep into hitherto uncharted boot discussion territory. What is the appeal (if any) of the high boot?
Damana (far left) has had men following her up and down in the elevators of her building just to stare silently at her boots. My boots (centre) which are actually quite a demure height for me nearly caused a traffic collision when the driver of a white panel van shouted something incomprehensible at me on the way to lunch. Cathie’s boots (right) ensured that our 10 year old (extremely cute waiter) hovered around our end of the table for the whole meal with the bottle of champagne.
Such was the collective boot impact that further boot research was conducted (with the help of Cathie and some other ladies and gentlemen). The results will be blogged about later this week.
Anyway, and meantime, here we all are and if we put you off your lunch, I do apologise. Next time I shall bring the Minx along to eat off the floor as a diversion.
We also talked about blogging. To this end I highly recommend that you check out the Geek Ladies’ writing yourselves: