I love shoes and I love dogs. Puppies and beautiful leather mules are a match made in dog heaven, but for the shoes, puppies are hell. An acquaintance of ours recently purchased a chef-cooked dinner at a charity auction and invited a group of us over to join him and his wife for the elaborate presentation by a new graduate of the Cordon Bleu. Sandy, the chef, waved gamely from behind when the hostess opened her door last evening, accompanied on the threshold by two Great Pyrenees and a new Pyrenees-mix puppy champing wildly on a red leash. After the 200+-lb. mature dogs nosed and poked at us below the waist, the puppy escaped her leash and plowed full bore onto my chest knocking the purse from my shoulder. “And who is this new little one?,” I asked cheerfully. “Oh, my husband found her on Craig’s List last week and we just couldn’t resist another Great Pyrenees,” the hostess chirped.
I am not familiar with this enthusiastic breed, but I’ve seen many pro football linemen crouched on all fours waiting for the hike of a ball and I can tell you there is no difference in the amount of real estate these animals occupy. There is a reason that the adjective ‘great’ is part of the breed’s name. The adult livestock settled into sleeping ‘around’ the dinner table, one on each side. Lucy, the puppy, now somewhat calmer, networked the crowd all night mining crumbs from recesses and crevices in the tile floors. Goat cheese and prosciutto bruschetta, our first course, was served with a hearty, deep purple velvet 1997 Barolo. The pear salad with a syrupy walnut vinaigrette followed. When the tenderloins in a port reduction and wasabi whipped potatoes arrived accompanied by a vintage Bordeaux, all of the carnivores in our massive food chain were aroused. My husband discouraged the large black Pyrenees on his side of the banquet with a swift kick of his cowboy boot. Nothing, wolf or human, gets between him and his rare medium. When the last smack emerged from the guests, the inventive young chef entered the room to joyous applause. The kingdom became peaceable once more and the passion fruit crepes were presented and promptly inhaled with a champagne toast.
After dinner, we enjoyed some photos of one of the guest’s trip to three wine regions in France. Sated by the lovely meal, we vowed to eat this way again often and soon. The hostess, holding firm on Lucy as the hyped pup vigorously tugged on her once-again attached leash, collected the handbags for the women. I began to search under the table for my brown Tod platform shoes that I allowed to slip from my feet in a futile attempt to create more room in my carcass for calories. The hostess spied them long before I did. She approached me gingerly, “We’re going to owe you for this,” she moaned. One shoe looked like the shoe I wore in; the other, was wet, ragged, and gasping for defib paddles. The shock on my face must have been apparent to all. Air was sucked from the room. Our jovial host bellowed, “What’s it gonna take to make you happy, honey?” “Oh, darlin,’ ” I cooed, “you are going to LOVE being an assistant producer for Sole Sisters! Be on the lookout for a donor brochure in your e-mail.”