Lost in Translation

Last night we gobbled down a creamy pasta that was a dinner request by Arabella for her boyfriend who is now the ex-boyfriend and goes by the title of  ‘special friend’.  Just after finishing our creamy pasta Arabella’s phone rang and it was The Tailor who was asking if we were on our way to his home for the fitting.  ‘Oh sorry’, said Arabella, ‘We’re just finishing our dinner and then we’re leaving.  We should be there at eight if that’s okay’.

‘We wait for you to have dinner.’

‘Oh no, sorry, I didn’t know we were invited for dinner.  I thought we were just coming for a fitting.  I’m really sorry but we’ve just eaten.’

‘What time you come?’

‘We’re leaving now.  Sorry you’ve been waiting but you go ahead and eat and we’ll be there soon’.

So Arabella, Fred and I rushed out to the car with our stomachs groaning from having gulped down our dinner and we drove in sheet rain but cheered ourselves up by scoffing down chocolate-coated sultanas.

An hour later we arrived and were welcomed at the door by the tailor’s tiny wife who greeted us warmly.  She is so short in stature I felt like a neanderthal.  I had to bend down to greet her and she kissed me on both cheeks several times and called me ‘Sister’.  Arabella had to fold herself in half to greet her and the tailor’s wife kissed her and called her ‘Daughter’ and I resisted saying, ‘You can have her’.

I took a few steps inside the tiny townhouse and saw the material for Arabella’s formal dress lying in one complete piece on the kitchen table.  I thought we were there for a fitting and the fabric hadn’t even been cut out.  I did a quick mental calculation and noted that Arabella needed to be wearing that material in around 19 hours.  Stress levels rising.

Arabella trying on a calico mock-up of her dress (with her thermal top on underneath) and the fabric lying on the kitchen table

We were asked if we would like cups of tea and the tea arrived, black and on a tray accompanied by a large pot of Iranian sugar lumps and no milk jug in sight.  We thanked his wife for the black tea.

I wondered what Arabella was there to try on but then the tailor produced a calico mock-up of the intended dress that she slipped on and the tailor made the necessary adjustments/alterations and I thought we were free to leave.  Not that I was in a hurry to rush out of there but I thought the sooner we left the sooner he could start and I don’t know much about sewing but I had a feeling this was not a simple assignment.

I grabbed my handbag but then we were asked to sit in the very small lounge room where there was only enough seating for me, Fred and Arabella.

‘You try Middle Eastern soup’, said the tailor.  I couldn’t fit in another thing.  ‘Oh, thanks anyway.  We’d love to.  But we’ve only just had our dinner and we’re quite full’.  But he handed me an enormous bowl of steaming spicy soup with a spoon and stood there grinning.  ‘You try.  Special soup.  Has noodles.  Lots of spices’.  I knew there was no way I was leaving without eating that soup but as it was such a large bowl I handed it to Fred.  ‘I would love to try it but could I just have a tiny amount because we just had pasta’, and he smiled at me, went into the kitchen and returned with a bowl piled higher than the one I’d just given Fred.

Arabella was panicking.  She didn’t want to eat another dinner.  I called out to the kitchen, ‘Arabella’s very full and she has a dress she needs to squeeze into tomorrow night so if she could just have a small amount.’  But Arabella was given no less than what Fred and I had been given.

The back of the proposed dress

I had no idea what was in the soup.  I could only distinguish noodles and legumes.  ‘Is this vegetarian?’ I tactfully asked.  ‘Yes, vegetarian’.

‘Oh, that’s great.  Looks delicious’, I said.

‘And chicken’.

‘Vegetarian chicken?  Lovely’.  Then he went back out into the kitchen and returned with a knife and  aplate of grilled marinated chicken that he cut up and served to us.

As we were seated on the only bits of furniture the tailor and his wife sat on the floor in front of us and ate with us.  They hadn’t eaten.  They had waited for us.  And after the soup and the chicken there were cakes.  Little banana and chocolate cakes fresh from the oven.  And we politely ate everything they had so generously prepared and all the leftovers were then bundled into containers and given to us as gifts.  Along with some homemade gifts of pickled garlic and pickled vegetables.

We gave them nothing.

The tailor told us we could collect the dress in the morning.

We wished him well.

We left there with our stomachs churning and groaning from our two huge dinners and our stress levels rising from that vision of the long piece of pale-pink silk lying on the kitchen table that had a lengthy night ahead of it.

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  1. Can’t wait to see how the dress turns out!

  2. Made me laugh… I can imagine. Oh dear, this was unforgetable dinner, should be. But Arabella, she is so beautiful in her dress… How exciting for you both.  Thank you, with my best wishes and love, nia

  3. You’re holding me in suspense. How will this story end? With a beautiful dress for the beautiful princess or???

  4. This is reading like a wonderful serial novel. First, the change in dresses and the glange. Then the tailor’s story. Now this. I can totally picture you sitting in the little lounge area with these huge bowls of soup wondering WTF was going on. I need to know what happens next. Gosh, I hope the dress is finished on time. I’m stressing out about it and I already have enough to stress about!

  5. Oh my word Charlie, I have guffawed my way right through this post….I cannot wait to read the follow up…in fact I am stressing about that dress and the long night ahead HAHA!! I am sure it is gorgeous!! xx

  6. I had to laugh at your thought “You can have her.”  I’ve been there, though I don’t really mean it … well, at least not all of the time.  I have no doubt that the dress will be done on time, and done beautifully.  Can’t wait to see!

  7. Oh my! What a night! I really hope the dress turns out great but I really don’t want to be in Arabella’s shoes, she must be so nervous

  8. I have every confidence in the tailor! I really do 🙂 I think the mock-dress was a great way to do the fitting, and I’m expecting great things. Now if the tailor came from Caifornia (or almost anywhere in the U.S.), I’d encourage you to have a back-up plan, but you’ve definitely described some lovely people who I think care more about your comfort and satisfaction than most. I’ve been on the receiving end of such gracious hospitality, and it can indeed be awkward when you really don’t want the food that is offered. You did the right thing by politely accepting, and we have been the recipients of another hilarious episode in the life of Charlie, Arabella and the “special friend.” I can’t wait to hear what comes next! Debra

  9. I’m rooting for the tailor!

  10. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Nothing like cutting it fine with the dress!  We have been subjected to a meal like that before when we were living in Mauritius!
    Looking forward to seeing the “real” dress tomorrow.
    🙂 Mandy

  11. Fabulous dress!  I can only imagine the groaning stomach after all that food.  I love the chicken ‘vegetarian’.  GG

  12. RichardLAnderson says:
  13. RichardLAnderson says:
  14. Choc Chip Uru says:

    What a cutie pie!!! Being so selfless in serving so much and being kind!
    However I do feel for you my friend, having to eat two dinners!
    The mock dress is beautiful, I’m sure it will be fine 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Cute story.  I love the almost said “you can have her.”  You’ve had some stressful time of late as a mother.  I have every confidence that the dress will be finished on time and perfect–as will the evening be for Arabella.

  16. I can’t wait for the final night.  So the “special friend” is already there and the dance will be tomorrow?  haha i’m so nosy no?
    I am confident the tailor will finish the dress tomorrow.  It’s almost done right.. can’t  wait for the final outcome!
    will be back tomorrow haha!

  17. The calico version looks pretty darn good!  Arabella looks so stricken though.  I can almost hear her wondering if she will be stuck wearing the calico with the silk still on the cutting board.  I bet it will be finished on time and will be lovely.

  18. OMG … I can’t wait to see how the dress looks and how the story winds up 🙂

  19. You were very kind and polite, Charlie. I have butterflies thinking about all the sewing he has to do in such a short space of time…

  20. I lol’d at “You can have her.”  God I think you’re funny.  You shouldn’t be in a book, you should be on stage.

    HOW are we going to last til tomorrow??  While it’s a pain in the ass for you, poor Arabella doesn’t need this stress.

  21. He sounds like an amazing man/tailor. I wouldn’t have any qualms at all about the dress. It will be done and it will be beautiful in 19 hrs.

  22. InTolerant Chef says:

    Thank goodness it was just dinner, from the title I thought maybe it was to do with the dress! How very sweet of the tailor indeed- though uncomfortable for you! Good luck!

  23. Giggled through this whole story!!!! So beautiful for them to share this meal but felt your panic to squeeze another meal in. Big thanks to Arrabella for the photos, we are on the edge of our seats. Brilliant writing Charlie.

  24. Seriously Charlie… I would watch a television series of your life. I am hoping that tomorrow’s update is that the dress was perfect and ready in time and Arabella had a ball at the formal! 

  25. It will be ready, it will be ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Juliet Batten says:

    Oh what a stressful time. But I’m sure it will all work out beautifully.

  27. Oh, you’re incredible! I felt the discomfort and panic alongside you while reading this, but also had the gigglies because you write so well. It will all come out wonderfully. It definitely will 🙂

  28. Charlie, I feel I am now so invested in this dress that I am waiting on updates with bated breath! What a challenging night – uncomfortable physically and socially I imagine! They do sound like amazing people, let’s hope he is also amazingly quick.

  29. ChgoJohn says:

    How you could eat another meal after that pasta is beyond me! The dress will be done tomorrow as promised and I’m looking forward to seeing a photo of Arabella wearing it and beaming. Faith.

  30. Oh wow Charlie 🙂 That’s such a pretty dress hehe ~ and Arabella looks just like you 😀 I would be quite worried too if there was still lying on the kitchen table hope it goes well 😉 

  31. He, he, this story could have happened in Serbia where I am from:) No one will take “no” for an answer when there is food prepared. But now I have heebie-jeebies as well concerning Arabella’s dress:)
    My daughter has her 8th grade formal dance tomorrow and she is a basket case:) It will be fun! I must stock up on some serious booze!

  32. Love waiting for the updated  stories.  They sound like a wonderful couple. I could visualise the soup etc…..     I could feel your panic over the dress.  I can’t wait to see the  finished product.  
    Hope all goes well

  33. I’m on the edge of my seat!!! I don’t know how you fit all that food in…

  34. Janetwhittaker says:

    What happened in the morning ??? Did you get breakfast ????x

  35. Jeno@ Weeknite Meals says:

    Oh I so enjoy reading your postings, you have me on pins and needles! The tailor and his tiny wife are such lovely folks, and you are gracious for eating another large dinner!

  36. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Charlie, you know that we are waiting with bated breath to hear if it turned out ok! You won’t make us wait too long will you? 😉

  37. Haha, love it – I’m familiar with that kind of hospitality! The dresh looks really nice though, even though it was just a calico mock-up – hope it all turns out well!

  38. Nuts about food says:

    That was very sweet of them to wait for you and share with you and you were very gracious to eat a second meal as not to offend them. Now waiting to see pics of the dress! I have some catching up to do on your blog, but why don’t you drop by  my place in the meantime to pick up a little something waiting for you?

  39. Ten out of ten.  AND a bunny stamp!

  40. Charlotte – is it rude to laugh at someone else’s sufferings??!! Truly too funny for words. Your every day antics would make a great sitcom!!! 

  41. Charlie – is it rude to laugh at someone else’s sufferings??!! Truly too funny for words. Your every day antics would make a great sitcom!!! 

  42. Hi,
    I should imagine you would of been pretty full by the time you left, that is amazing, and giving you food to take home as well. 🙂
    I can only imagine the shock when you saw the material laying on the table, but I love the style going by the mock-up very nice.

  43. Hope the dress with fit after all that food!

  44. I love vegetarian chicken! 🙂 

  45. Oh my goodness! That’s a lot of food for one evening. And to have to fit into a dress! Eeks. 🙂 

  46. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    Well, no breakfast needed for the next day after two dinners.

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