Sometimes the most memorable gifts are the most ephemeral gifts. Like flowers. Cookies made with a certain someone in mind. Sweet sentiments uttered in the presence of loved ones. This past weekend, David (aka our own Fatty Daddy) lavished all three of these on The One to fête his beloved’s 55th birthday. Though the presents themselves may be transitory, the thinking behind them began last year, when David made a rare appearance at a reception in Manhattan. Perched atop the requisite cake were cookies in the likeness of various New York City icons, each exquisitely fashioned by Gail Dosik. It was at that moment that David started scheming. Months later, David presented these 15 cookies, each of which symbolizes something near and dear to The One’s heart, to the birthday boy before his bash this past Saturday night. Actually, though, these tokens of love actually began long, long ago. As David explained to The One, in his words, “Once upon a time, when two princes fell in love the old-fashioned way….” Here, we present their love story, as told in those cute-as-can-be cookies. As for ephemeral? The One refused to share the cookies with his guests. Nor would he take even a single nibble. Instead, he intends to hold them near and dear forever. Can’t say as we blame him.–Renee Schettler Rossi
ONCE UPON A TIME there were two princes (well, one was really more of a princess when it came to temperament) who were searching for love in all the wrong places. This was the early ’90s and they were in their early 30s–can you blame them? But all they found were broken promises shouted over thumping house music. Tired and exhausted from years of looking for Mr. Goodbar, each of them at last decided to consult the ancient romance oracle known as the personal pages of New York magazine. (Yes, children, there was a time when people actually met and fell in love via the printed word–before eHarmony and Match.com.) Fatty Daddy, who wasn’t yet fat but rather gorgeously slim and sporting a thick shock of brown hair, placed a royal decree for a companion prince. Of all the princes in all the lands, not to mention a few nude creeps who had no sense of modesty, only one—The One—fit the bill. He was slender, with blue eyes flecked with gold, and just enough blond hair left to qualify as a receding hairline. He was perfect.
After a short but dizzying courtship that included getaways to The One’s rustic hut in upstate New York and treks to places he considered strange and exotic (read: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where Fatty Daddy made his home), a promise was made between the princes that has never been broken. The pledge was accompanied by a bouquet of yellow roses that The One bestowed on Fatty Daddy, who to this day still has each and every one of those dried petals stashed in a secret place.
After years of traveling alone, the princes set off to discover the world together. The first place they descended upon was Paris, where Not-Yet-Fat Fatty Daddy came down with la crise de foie after doing a series of face plants into plates of foie gras, crème fraîche, and blanquette de veau. And then, as it goes with romance stories such as these, a terrible argument broke out between them. Fatty Daddy (who was starting to see how he could indeed get fat) fled to the Seine to weep and wonder how he could get an early flight home. Though The One failed to follow Fatty Daddy to the river and console him, later that week they made up anyways and exchanged vows of love (and, it seems, the promise of continued arguments) on the Pont Neuf.
In time the two princes longed for a family to call their own. One day a fairy (no, not that kind of fairy) godmother granted their wish, presenting them with two rescue cats in the most magnificent of plastic carriages. One was Raja, a name he came with and that perfectly suits the regal nature of the large taupe-tip Himalayan, who immediately ran for cover behind the pedestal sink in the bathroom, seemingly rationalizing, If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. He was far too plump to be completely hidden, and the two princes laughed merrily.
In the other carriage was Chloe, a tortoise Persian, who began caterwauling (is that where the phrase comes from?) and promptly leapt upon the lap of Fatty Daddy (who was by now indeed quite fat). “She knew which side her bread was buttered on,” he likes to say. While it took both cats a while to feel at home, the foursome settled into domestic bliss–albeit without legal partnership documents since The One doesn’t believe in marriage of any kind, which drives Fatty Daddy crazy. That’s a story for another time—and for Judith the Enchantress, the princes’ couples therapist.
The princes continued to indulge their joint and considerable wanderlust. They were welcomed into the kingdoms of St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida), Portugal, Spain, France (beyond the citadel of Paris), Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, to name a few. But after a few days of voyaging, they always turned to each other and said in unison, “I miss the kids.” And each time they vowed that on their next journey they would travel for less time so that the children wouldn’t be so traumatized. (This was, in fact, Fatty Daddy’s secret attempt to make sure they didn’t forget him, as he still isn’t over the fact that Chloe, who was his child, suddenly latched onto The One when Fatty Daddy spent the better part of a year in the faraway kingdom of Portugal. Traitor.)
The One had always wanted to summer in the magical—and ridiculously, outrageously, exorbitantly expensive—playground of the rich and famous, that former potato-farming region known as East Hampton. So the princes decided to rent the loveliest of Enchanted Seaside Cottages overlooking Gardiner’s Bay for two seasons. There’s only one road into this faraway land—the treacherous Montauk Highway, also known as Route 27. But Fatty Daddy has trouble with numbers and math, which explains why he always got lost on his way to their cottage. (And it might explain why he gave the Royal Baker, the incomparable Gail Dosik, the wrong digit for this cookie.) For two sun-filled summers, the princes frolicked on the sands of the bay. Well, The One frolicked; Fatty Daddy waved him on from his computer because he had a punishing book deadline and the Evil Sorcerer, his agent, was holding his feet to the fire. But the children were with them every day, and they were a family. Life was sweet.
One of The One’s favorite pastimes while at the Enchanted Seaside Cottage was to sit in an Adirondack throne surveying his rented view with his dearest friend Ellen, who is truly a princess—and not of the royal kind. Together they laughed, danced, and sang well into the warm summer nights, and only the next morning would the extent of their frivolity be uncovered when Fatty Daddy gathered the empty wine bottles that had collected beneath their thrones. (Fatty Daddy considered looking up the address of the local AA meeting, but never did. The One was having the time of his life while Fatty Daddy was working on his book. Why let a little excess bottle collecting get in the way of that?)
While in the land of Expensive East Hampton, The One became obsessed with the painter Jackson Pollock, whose former house, now a museum, was just a stroll from the Enchanted Seaside Cottage. The more The One read of the life and times of Pollock, the more he became convinced that he was the artist reincarnate—even though he is (and he admits this himself) a horrible artist. Nor is he a womanizer, slob, or nutcase. Still, the obsession remains.
In 2006, when Fatty Daddy was absolutely positive he’d gone through The Change, the princes became parents again. This time to Devil Cat, otherwise known as Rory. The arrival of this feral animal into the calm sanctity of the castle caused quite a stir—not to mention physical harm in the form of innumerable scratches, three serious bites, and a four-fang puncture in the plump drumstick of Fatty Daddy’s left hand that resulted in an evening at the hospital with an intravenous antibiotics drip. Still, the princes persisted, slowly domesticating the wild thing in between his bouts of terrorizing the neighbors and scaring off the UPS carrier. Six years later, Rory’s integrated into the household, lying on the hassock in front of the French doors, surveying his domain. Admittedly, the rodent population has decreased dramatically, mostly because he deposits half-eaten (sometimes half-alive) creatures on the doorstep as a thank-you for rescuing him from a life of feline crime. Still, every so often while burying a dead chipmunk or washing mice kidneys from the front steps, the princes wonder if they are forever stuck with a cat with a rap sheet.
Last year, the siren call of pain au chocolat, tart au citron, and moules-frîtes proved too great, and the princes set off once again for Paris. This time, instead of staying yet one more time in a small, trés cher hotel on the Left Bank where Fatty Daddy could barely fit in the shower (How thin are the frigging French? he’d wonder while wedged in the stall like a bear in a trap, waiting for The One to free him), they found a place of their very own—a small rental in the 8th arrondissement on Rue Balzac, named for a writer of considerable girth who undoubtedly would’ve also had problems squeezing into French showers. From this home away from home, the two princes traipsed through the land of Gaul, from Normandy to Aix-en-Provence, eating everything proffered by the locals, and they were content.
Late this summer, the two princes decided to steal away to London, a place known for its adoration of royalty, and not surprisingly they felt right at home—almost more at home than they felt in their home away from home on the Rue Balzac. “How lovely that the commoners have learned our language to welcome us,” Fatty Daddy said to The One, who responded with a rather hurtful roll of the eyes, which Fatty Daddy chose not to acknowledge—at least not until they had once again visited Judith the Enchantress at the princely sum of $250 an hour—lest he spoil their vacation.
The princes found Londoners to be extraordinarily charming, well mannered, and willing to go out of their way to make the princely couple feel supremely comfortable. This included everyone from the night guard to the attendants at The Tube, who instructed them in the ways of underground transportation, to the Queen herself, who graciously left Buckingham Palace for the two princes to reside in for the entire month of August while she visited Balmoral Castle. Sadly, Liz forgot to leave the key to the palace with the Beefeater at the front gate, and the two princes had to make do with an overly hot, sordid hotel room in Chelsea. Still, the princes had a wonderful time in London, despite the terrible lapse of manners visited upon them by Her Royal Majesty. They will, of course, return to the majestic city for the royal birth. They’re just waiting for an invitation from Wills and Kate.
From London, the two princes set sail upon a Celebrity cruise to drink plenty of fine wine and sup upon much glorious food in Portugal, Spain, and the South of France. Although not cruisers (not of the nautical sort, anyway), the two princes enjoyed themselves immensely. “It’s our own floating castle with hundreds of manservants,” The One liked to say. (And indeed, he had to pry Fatty Daddy’s hands from the gangway door upon disembarking. The thought of doing his own dishes and making his own bed had a terribly detrimental effect on The Great One.)
And so we come to the end of our fairy tale—but not the end of our love story. Because of a terrible oversight on the part of Fatty Daddy, who didn’t think this narrative through well enough to settle upon a single cookie that could fittingly sum up 20 years of princely devotion, we end upon the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, one of The One’s most beloved sights from their recent cruise. The Royal Baker, Gail Dosik, did a smashing job at recreating the angles and shapes of the unique Frank Gehry edifice. Nonetheless, a gorgeous metal museum is a gorgeous metal museum and not a coda to love. So this narrator begs you, dear reader, to imagine a heart or kissing cupids or some such romantic finale to our love story told in 15 cookies. Perhaps the Royal Baker will take pity upon the harried Fatty Daddy, who dropped the ball because he had to throw a kick-ass dinner-birthday party that he’d been planning for weeks, and haul out her royal icing once more to tell this love story in 16 cookies.
Regardless of the number of cookies that tell their tale, the princes are living mostly happily ever after—except when they’re arguing over the kids, travel plans, dinner arrangements, TV programs…. The End? Hardly.
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Photos © 2012 David Leite. All rights reserved.