Monday, May 30, 2011

A Drew Belmonde Moment

We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Gene's sister and neice today in San Juan Capistrano at the Sundried Tomato Cafe. They just introduced a new menu, while keeping many old favorites. A few words of advice: Sweet potato fries. Any half and half combo. Ahi anything. And their iced tea is brewed perfectly - not an easy thing to do, by the way. Many restaurants have iced tea available but it often tastes metallic or astringent. This was crisp, fresh and perfect. No flavors, no sweeteners, just tea. Thank you.

Spending time with friends and family, walking around different locations, all of it allows for the creativity to get flowing. The people-watching - a funny gesture or a full blown argument that a husband and wife are trying to disguise as just a regular ol' conversation. The smell of popcorn drifting from an old movie theatre, ice cream dribbling down a little kid's face, the delicious smell of garlic wafting from competing restaurants.

And so the little grey matter woke up and started throwing around ideas. What is Drew Belmonde all about? Where did she come from? What is her driving force? Which quirks will rear their strange but critical heads throughout her adventures? So far she has been laid back, cool-headed, but not necessarily interesting or memorable. What makes her interesting in my mind?

Think. Think. Think.

Because she has been percolating for so long in my mind, a lot of different traits have been applied to her over the years, but today, I think she came a little clearer into focus. She's got some glitches under her perfected veneer. She's got some "mentalities" (our pet name for personal issues) that come up more often than she would like. Here's how she is emerging:

From the time she was 14, Drew had worked in a tea shop in Boise with Leona, a new-Age-y woman who has devoted her life to tea and serving it to people.  Each year, Leona had taken her on an annual buying trip to tea plantations and auctions around the world.  Tea culture was literally steeped into her bones, as she was exposed to the greater world, though in modest modes – hostels, rented rooms and the like.
When she was 17, her parents suddenly decided to be missionaries in India, working with Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity.  She had one more semester before graduation, and begged to be allowed to stay and finish.  Having travelled to India on a couple of buying trips, she had a pretty good idea at what living conditions awaited her, considering her parents’ new vocation. This did not appeal to her in the least.  Because of their long history with Leona, they agreed to let their daughter live with her until college began. 
When she moved to California after finishing college, she was shocked to discover the ages of some of the gorgeous, youthful looking women she met. A 42-year old would have the smooth radiance of a 30- year old. Leona was 42, yet she looked at least 50, as did most of the women Drew had known during her youth. Determined not to let time decimate her looks, now that she knew the hands of time could be slowed, she had become obsessed with her skin. Each night before going to bed, she would take a photo of her face, note  any unusual foods or beverages she had consumed, and compare the photos to 12 days prior, 12 weeks prior and 12 months prior, thanks to the technological miracle of digital photography. She monitored the signs of any potential wrinkle, age spot, puffiness, fatigue or lack of elasticity and adjusted her bedtime skin ritual accordingly.
She can’t stand group situations where there is no defined leader, and typically steps forward to get things moving simply to avoid the group dithering. Some might describe her as a control freak, she simply wants to get the show, whatever show it is, on the road.
Having broken free from her roots and made a name for herself among the high society O.C. and Hollywood set, small name though it is, she is now Tea Docent to the Stars.  Charity teas, upper crust bridal and baby showers, ladies' luncheons - her name is at the top of every Who's Who party planner's list. And in her spare time, she leads exclusive, luxury world tea tours. Mystery and murder ensue.
Here's my question, though. Would she call herself "Tea Docent" or "Tea Sommelier?" She doesn't believe anyone can proclaim to be a Tea Master. What's your vote? Is there a better title she could conjure up?