Daddy Cool

Émile’s 10th birth­day bash

Milk Magazine (English) - - CONTENTS - Text: Jérôme Bec­quet and Émile – Il­lus­tra­tion: Arthur Poitevin

His mum: – Got any ideas? Me: – Hmm, I’ve checked out a few places… I dunno, per­haps Le Grand Vé­four? We were lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio yes­ter­day and Émile raved about one of Ray­mond Oliver’s recipes for pan­cakes…

His mum: – Oh yeah? That’s not a bad idea… He also longs to go to Le Jules Verne, the restau­rant on the sec­ond floor of the Eif­fel Tower.

Me: – Well, yes... we could save that for when he leaves school… I don’t think the Iron Lady will be go­ing any­where soon…

Oh yes, our young man had re­ally made up his mind about what he wanted for his tenth birth­day: to cel­e­brate it in a gas­tro­nomic restau­rant. With uni­formed wait­ers, crys­tal chan­de­liers and linen servi­ettes… the stuff of dreams. I don’t know whether it was be­cause we’d watched Louis de Funès do­ing a lit­tle dance while hold­ing a gravy boat in the film

The Restau­rant (1966), but noth­ing else would do. He’d even pressed his suit and hung it over his chair, ready for the big day. But after do­ing the rounds of top­notch eater­ies, we re­alised we’d for­got­ten one lit­tle de­tail: the rest of the fam­ily! Grannies and grandads, cousins and all would want to be there, too, for Émile’s tenth birth­day. So in the mid­dle of the night, as I was hav­ing night­mares about the seat­ing ar­range­ments and the loan I was go­ing to have to take out to cover the bill, I had a rev­e­la­tion! What about a meal for the whole fam­ily at home and a chic af­ter­noon tea party with a se­lect guest list for the young sprog?

The one I picked out was at the Plaza Athénée. When I take Émile to school on the scooter, we go past this ho­tel and he gazes in fas­ci­na­tion at the liv­er­ied door­men and the re­volv­ing door lead­ing into a mar­ble hall. So I made a reser­va­tion for 4.30pm on the last Satur­day in Fe­bru­ary. “Like that, Émile can also take ad­van­tage of the skat­ing rink,” ex­plains the charm­ing per­son who ar­ranged it all. A skat­ing rink. The very word sent me into a day­dream. I saw my­self as Kevin in Home Alone 2. Liv­ing in a ho­tel suite and or­der­ing masses of things from room ser­vice. Back to re­al­ity.

As soon as we ar­rived at the ho­tel, we were es­corted to La Galerie, where a sump­tu­ous sofa and comfy arm­chairs awaited us. Be­hind us was the fa­mous skat­ing rink set up in the court­yard for the win­ter. “The menu, young man…” Or­ders had barely been placed when a gas­tro­nomic bal­let was per­formed at our ta­ble, de­liv­er­ing three-tier cake stands laden with de­lights whipped up by Best Ar­ti­san in France An­gelo Musa, the Plaza Athénée Ho­tel’s pas­try chef, and sil­ver teapots… Émile had an Alain Du­casse hot choco­late served in front of him. Then came the birth­day cake and a gift from the ho­tel, a soft toy. I glanced at him: his eyes were shin­ing; he looked so hand­some and proud in his suit. It was as if he were dream­ing awake. He blew out his can­dles, made a wish and then ev­ery­one tucked in.

I my­self dozed off, pos­si­bly be­cause of the rum… or the ul­tra soft sofa, or both. And then I be­gan dream­ing too… I imag­ined ev­ery­one in the restau­rant burst­ing into ap­plause after my son blew out the can­dles; I saw him get up, grab a harp and play the theme from La La

Land. Guests danced, ho­tel clients per­formed triple axles on the skat­ing rink in the back­ground; gor­geous women show­ered their pur­chases from nearby stores like con­fetti… I laughed in my sleep. Émile woke me up… it was time to go skat­ing.

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