26 December 2006
How I spent Christmas eve
For Christmas, Jerry gave me three envelopes, each one tied with a ribbon. One was marked "Open at 10 AM Sunday," the others "Open at 3 PM" and "Open at 5 PM," respectively. On Christmas Eve morning, I obediently opened the first one. It was a long, accordian-folded missive from Jerubic Tours, Ltd., with a made-up -- I assume, though I suppose I could try Googling it -- London address. Subject line: Portland Highlights - Phase I. It went on to say, "Dear Ms. Basch: We are delighted to inform you that you will be treated to our Portland Highlights adventure on December 24, 2006. Your escort, J, will provide transportation and take care of all financial details. Your role is simply to sit back and enjoy the ride."
The document revealed that the first event on my itinerary would be a matinee of Susannah Mars' "Mars on Life: The Holiday Edition." Cool; I'd actually considered getting tickets earlier in the season but decided there'd probably be too much else going on around now (ha), so we passed. The letter from, ahem, Jerubic Tours went on to say "Subsequent events will be revealed in due course. However, for pragmatic reasons, certain facts must be made known to you at the outset. Since you will not be returning to your home until mid-morning on Monday, you should make the needed preparations - toiletries, robe, etc. The evening will include an opportunity to dress in your best. For your guidance, be aware that your escort is required, by our house rules, to wear a tuxedo. And oh yes, bring a bathing suit. And your computer. Ta ta!"
So my escort and I packed as instructed, took care of the kitties, and set out for the theater. It was a delightful show. Susannah had invited a rotating lineup of guest performers to join her onstage during the run; for this performance, it was Rebecca Kilgore, a jazz vocalist, also a local, who was terrific, too. Interesting, we learned that Susannah is Jewish, and during the 8 days of Chanukah had actually brought a menorah onstage and, during the show, lit the appropriate number of candles. Along with the traditional carols and funny Christmas / seasonal songs, she did a surprising number of Chanukah tunes; more than I knew existed, actually.
During the intermission, I opened my "3 PM" envelope. It was another long, festive-looking document from Jerubic Tours, Ltd., heralding Portland Highlights - Phase II, and informing "My dear Ms. Basch, From the theater you will be going on to your accomodations for the evening." Then followed several color pictures and a description of the historic Multnomah Hotel, now the Embassy Suites at 4th and Pine.
The communique concluded "Relax and enjoy the amenities. And keep in mind that J, your escort, is always at your call and is thoroughly trained to be able to take care of all your personal needs. Your pleasure is our reward. Jerubic Tours, Ltd." Heh heh. Every time "Jerubic Tours, Ltd." appears throughout this adventure, it's in Olde English type, which makes me chuckle, too.
After the show, we drove to the hotel, checked in, soaked in the jacuzzi for a while, did the hot hot dry sauna for about 30 seconds, which was as long as I could stand it, and then had a couple of cocktails in the Arcadian Garden Room, which must've been quite a swanky venue in its day. According to a coffee-table history of the hotel that we found in the room (quite an impressive hardbound book), luminaries like Charles Lindberg, Elvis, Queen Marie of Romania, and John and Bobby Kennedy either stayed or were feted there, or both.
Before going downstairs for drinks, I opened my "5 PM" envelope, which was all about dinner, of course. Portland Highlights - Phase III was addressed to "My dearest Ms. Basch" (Notice how the greetings have become progressively more familiar?) "You and your escort will be dining this evening at The Portland City Grill." A veritable cornucopia of folded paper spilled forth (basically a printout of the entire menu), and the missive concluded "And this will bring to an end your Portland Highlights Adventure. On behalf of all of us here at Jerubic Tours, Ltd , and your escort J, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas. It has been a pleasure to serve you. Portland Highlights Adventure is a production of Jerubic Tours, Ltd. " So we duded up, Jer in his tux, and me in a lovely burnout-velvet-and-sparkles tunic affair that was a gift from him on a previous occasion, and walked a block and a half, in a major downpour, to the restaurant.
The main attraction of Portland City Grill is its altitude and the view that that implies. It's on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp Tower, a.k.a. Big Pink, which I'd guess is the tallest building downtown. Of course the view from our windowside table was spectacular. The service was efficient, though totally scripted; it's the kind of place where anything you might order is "an excellent choice." Like, would they tell you if it wasn't? Not if our meal was any indication. Jer had a Caesar salad and blackened ahi; I had a few pieces of sushi followed by pasta with seafood. This isn't a restaurant review so I'll spare you the details, but it was one more data point in the theory that the elevation of the restaurant is in inverse proportion to the quality of the food. I'd go back for drinks, though, especially with out-of-town guests.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel, and at that point discretion dictates that we draw the curtain on our happy couple. The next morning, after a very decent complementary breakfast at what I'd much rather think of the Multnomah Hotel than the Embassy Suites, we packed, retrieved the car from the lot across the street, and were home in less than 15 minutes. The cats seemed happy to see us, or at least our opposable thumbs.
I just have to say I love my romantic guy for orchestrating all this and making it happen.
P.S. The note cards in which he enclosed the three installments of our adventure were very cool as well -- all familiar Portland views (the Powell's corner at 10th and W Burnside, the Bagdad Theater on Hawthorne, and the stretch of Milwaukie Ave that includes the Moreland Theater and Fat Albert's) by a local painter named Tom Rettig. Not the guy who played the kid in Lassie; I did Google that.