Fetch niece from Mirrieless, give her Louis Vuitton knapsack dearest Mum sent from Manila, stuffed with all manner of flimsy shirts highly inappropriate for campus wear. Niece’s first remark is: “I don’t think I’ll be able to use this around campus!” — see her point, as bag is covered with LV logo (am suddenly reminded that, 20 years ago, when self started graduate school at Stanford, Mum went wild in Macy’s and bought me ten party dresses, as if I’d be partying rather than studying.). Now, tell niece: “Use it next time you’re in Manila” (as, from long experience, designer brands very BIG there) and she says, “Oh, right.”
So, on way to dinner in downtown Palo Alto, niece takes out shirt after shirt– many have glitters, sequins — Dear Mum always had the most impeccable taste; if I had been party girl, might have rivalled Ms. Hilton in flashiness of wardrobe! — and we oooh and aaaah.
Find neat parking just one block off University, niece asks where we will eat and I say, let’s discover someplace new. So, we walk, discuss The Cheesecake Factory (Awfully big portions, niece says — Never mind!). Walk down Ramona, indicate Nola’s, and niece says: “Oh, students from campus always come here to drink.” Again never mind.
Further up the street, two possibilities: one on the corner of Bryant and Hamilton, Osteria (I had my wedding reception there, I tell niece. And she says, “I know. My dad told me.” And I am truly amazed, speechless, that my brother-in-law would have thought this worth mentioning to anyone, as wedding was not exactly highlight of my life, in fact it rained and hubby’s and my families got into horrendous fight.) and the other a tiny nook called Bistro Maxine.
Since so rarely take niece out to somewhere fancy, and since she treated when we watched The Painted Veil a couple of weeks ago, want to try expensive-looking Osteria first. Smells emanating from there — garlicky smells — just heavenly! But there’s a line, and wait, we are told, will be almost an hour.
So instead we end up at Bistro Maxine’s, where niece has smoked salmon crepe and I have “La Chevre” (mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese), privately think crepes have nothing on Laurel Street Cafe in San Carlos, but we’re here already, might as well eat and enjoy. Later, they serve our dessert crepes on the cutest plates, with recipes in French, and niece reads for me and translates:
Mousse Au Chocolat:
3 oeufs — 3 eggs
30g de beurre — butter
100g de chocolat noir — dark chocolate
2 c. soupe de soucre glaze — 2 tablespoons of something (I forget what she said)
Dessert crepes were supposed to have Grand Marnier and Calvados, but did not taste any of that, what a disappointment! In spite of not having imbibed alcohol, get lost on the way back to the car, end up in Diddam’s party store, where niece talks me into buying little plaster chihuahua with bobbling head, “just like the ones in the Bridget Jones” movie — !!! Now she and I each have one (Other dog specimens available, but she and I were in agreement that all others had glaring eyes and looked evil.). Good heavens, am regressing to undergraduate silliness.
Ended up in Faculty Club, where, as predicted, everyone walking in to hear David Henry Hwang was Asian. “Are you serious, Tita? That they probably sent out invitation to all Asian Pacific American alums?” Yes. As witness spectacular non-diversity of audience. Told her they should have sent invites to all English alums as well, Mr. Hwang is not just an “Asian American” artist! And, furthermore, think it is extremely silly that Stanford has Alumni Homecoming, and then an “Asian American Alumni Homecoming”, which I never attend.
Inside, niece says “hi, hi, hi,” seems to know a gazillion people, get to meet her faculty advisor, a very young-looking Asian woman. Niece is tickled that on my nametag, there are two departments listed: one for East Asian Studies, another for Creative Writing. Says she didn’t know I had two degrees, is quite impressed.
We try to locate DHH, but of course I don’t even recognize him anymore, direct her to man who I think might be the Exalted One, but turns out is not, then have to ask a chirpy girl from PASU (all Stanford PASU students are chirpy) and this clumsy girl wants to take my picture next to DHH, who it turns out is eating at a table BEHIND us (Niece says, “Stop! Tita, you have spinach in your teeth!” Thank God, if I were with anyone else, they would have let me grin for photo even with spinach on my teeth.), then I say I can’t possibly intrude on him, he won’t remember me, blah blah blah, but after much maneuvering by niece I am actually standing in front of the actual DHH, and I begin by saying, “How do you do? I’m from the Philippines! You blurbed my first book!” And, to his credit, DHH says, “Of course! It is sooo nice to meet you!” And I remind him, “Your mom knows my mom, remember?” And before he can answer, someone grabs the mike (some Dean or other) and says how heart-warming it is to see such a diversity of people in the room (Again, may I repeat, WHAT diversity, everyone in the gathering was Asian or Asian American), and then goes on to explain: “kids, undergrads, alumni, some even older than David” (which includes self I suppose — ha ha ha!)
Anyway, undergrads perform excerpts from his new play. First scene superbly well acted, niece and I applaud enthusiastically. It’s something about David being in Boston when planes hit World Trade Center, calling an old friend in New York and talking about AUDITIONS.
Next scene has a pretty Asian American accusing a white fellow actor (they are playing members of a touring entourage for “The King and I”) of using her as a “pc fuck” which is the first time I have ever heard of such a term but, yes, it does make sense. Girl is a terrible actress (though pretty) and boy looks rather fey so I can’t say I found the scene very compelling.
Then David comes on and introduces Executive Director of the Public Theatre in New York, and it’s a woman named M. Jimenez, who turns out also to be a Stanford grad (Amazing!) David talks about how John L’Heureux helped him develop his talent (Another amazing coincidence: John was also the person who steered self to the Creative Writing Program. Too bad he wasn’t in the audience. Too bad NO ONE from Creative Writing Program was in the audience.)
But, very successful evening, as niece is so excited she wants to rush out and see David Henry Hwang play. Learn that free performances will be held in Okada Dorm all week, so she and I make date to meet up Thursday night and go together. Fun, fun.