Port and Roses: a History

In late January 2012, Julia and David, daughter and father, were dining at Luc, where they were enjoying an excellent meal. At one point, Julia went to the restroom, and then returned to the table. The following conversation ensued.

Julia: “David, I think you should go to the bathroom. The first one.”

David, skeptical: “Okaaay…” (He goes to the bathroom, then comes back)

Julia: “Did you notice the glass cabinet?”

David: “I did notice.”

Julia: “Well. It’s unlocked, and quite empty, don’t you think?”

David: “Yes indeed. How interesting…”

Julia: “We need to put something in it! Something artistic!”

We started brainstorming about what to put in. “How about a nice scene?” “What about an empty bottle of Port, maybe a bottle of Kopke Port like the one we had at Luc once?” “Or some flowers?” We got more and more excited, and a plan was shaping up, but something seemed to be missing. David realized what it was: the scene couldn’t be static; it needed to change. It needed to be a play!

After more brainstorming, the general design was decided. The next day Julia wrote a script. She bought a bottle of Kopke Port, which we very much enjoyed emptying. We also happened to have a freshly empty bottle of Grand Marnier. From crafting wire Julia made 2 identical figures of a woman (with skirt), 2 identical figures of a man (without skirt), and 3 ladders. A bundle of plastic roses was purchased from the thrift store.

On 3 February, we were ready to open the curtains on the play. We went to Luc, with Julia carrying in her backpack all of the pieces of the set and the players. The restaurant was moderately busy, and we were both nervous about the performance. But David didn’t have to worry much, as his job was only to pretend to be a pleasantly normal client. Julia, however, had undercover work to do, and at an opportune moment went to the restroom with her backpack. After what seemed like hours to her, and with every sound of the set up so loud that she feared the whole world knew what she was doing, she completed the installation of Act I, Scene i. Inwardly trembling, she returned to the table, feeling as if all eyes were on her, and we finished our meal.

A few days later, Julia flew off to Scotland and England for a month of travels, leaving David the task of setting up the later scenes. But Julia had produced a detailed, illustrated script, and pre-arranged Act I Scene ii (using the doubles of each character), which made it much easier for David to be the stage hand.

Still, as David approached Luc on 9 February, he was very nervous. Would they accost him at the door and tell him he was no longer welcome? Would he find Act I Scene i gone, swept away into a dustbin? Would they notice how long he spent in the restroom?

Adrienne greeted David warmly at the door, with no hint she suspected anything. David was seated, and, after an unsuspicious length of time, went to the restroom. And it was all still there! Exactly as Julia left it! David got quickly to work, pulling out the script from one pocket, the pliers from another, and the extra figures from a third. He opened the door to the glass cabinet – and how it creaked! Surely they would guess something suspicious was going on! But all went smoothly, David went back to his table. To his surprise, no one seemed to notice anything unusual.

Over the next few weeks, David would come in every once in a while to enjoy a nice meal, and would slip into the restroom with script and items for the next scene. Each time the stage was left exactly as it was when he was last in. He would take pictures each time, and add them to a little website (which you are now visiting), set up so that our friends who were following the action (including some in Arizona, Canada, and Scotland) could see how it was progressing.

Then, in late March, Julia returned to Corvallis. At this point David had set up the remaining scenes of Act I, and the play was now in Act II Scene i. We decided to go to Luc, and set up Act II Scene ii, and, maybe, spill the beans.

We arrived that night, and Julia went to the bathroom, quickly creating Act II Scene ii. She returned to the table. Adrienne was our waitress. Just as Adrienne served our food, David said, “Adrienne, do you have a computer here?” “Yes”, she said. “And is it connected to the Internet?” “Yes.” David then handed her a card, with the URL of this website written on it. Adrienne looked at the card, and exclaimed “Is it you two? Are you the ones???” She then told us that they had seen the display, but had presumed that it was one of the other co-owners who had set it up. It turns out one of the co-owners was there that very same night! Adrienne talked to him and discovered that he thought it was one of the waitresses who had set it up. No one suspected it was a pair of mischievous customers. We talked a bit more about it with Adrienne, and to our great relief we discovered that she liked it.

We have had great fun doing it, in no small part because of having such great food and enjoying the company of Adrienne, Amity, Jessica, and Samantha.

As the play progressed during the spring and summer, we enjoyed some great meals at Luc. Most of the time it was just David (as Julia was off elsewhere, including at a summer job) who did the setup. On Father’s Day, David missed having Julia with him, and so he had her join him in Avatar form:

Julia returned to Corvallis for the last scene and the finale. The last scene of the play was staged on 8 August 2012, with the curtain call appearing on 26 August. Here are Julia and David toasting the completion of the play: