Styles - When 'Doing Lunch' lasts 2 Days
March 23, 2004
There's an oft-repeated maxim among hosts who live on the beach: guests don't leave. So when Ann Eysenring, a real estate agent for Sotheby's, recently invited 11 people over for lunch at 1:45 and didn't show u herself until almost 2:30, the stage was set for a long afternoon.
Was it Ms. Eysenring's weekly surfing appointment that caused her tardiness? Every Saturday morning she heads three miles up the Pacific Coast Highway to Surfrider Beach along with friends. On this morning there were five volunteers; some were at a "hang10" level, while others spent most of the time getting sand out of their suits.
Bonnie Curtis, a film producer whose credits include "Minority Report" and "A.I.Artificial Intelligence," was in the novice camp. And though she did not manage to stay up on her board for more than 10 seconds, she did, as she later told the group gathered at Ms. Eysenring's apartment, spot Adam Sandler struggling with a longboard not far away. "He's got a girly board with flowers on the tip," she said. And lest any of the assembled movie agents and producers rush to sign the actor up for the sequel to "Blue Crush," Ms. Eysenring, who has been surfing for 18 years, explained that he was "using a beginner Softop" board.
With an entertaining style that might be best described as California Casually Conscientious, Ms. Eysenring is long on tidying up napkins and tortilla crumbs and a tad short on actually getting a meal prepared. After arriving wet and wetsuited at a house filling with guess, she showered, while Marissa Faith, a colleague from Sotheby's, diced onions and peppers for pico de gallo in the galley kitchen.
Dry and dressed, Ms. Eysenring moved into the living room, where two guests, perched on the arms of her low-slung Case Study chairs, were guiding precarious chipfuls of pico de gallo to their lips. She began circling, wiping up spills - something she would return to throughout the afternoon. "It's what I do," she admitted.
Out on the deck, Guy Blews, a Londoner who rents the studio apartment next door and wrote "Marriage and How to Avoid It: The Truly Cynical Guide" (iUniverse, 2000), was lecturing one recently engaged guest on the doom soon to envelop her. A former philosophy student described on his book jacket as a "true believer in individuality and respect and love for the self and for others," he brought a missionary's zeal to the topic. "By its very nature, marriage is built upon the insecurity of humans not wanting to lose the other person," Mr. Blews said. "That just doesn't work for me. I like too many different people."
At 4:15, after all the tortilla chips had been eaten and more than one guest had complained of hunger pangs, Ms. Faith enlisted Jeri Ryan, an actress on "Boston Public" (perhaps better known as Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager"), to help grill. Ms. Ryan, something of an aspiring chef, volunteers Sunday nights in the kitchen at the House, a restaurant in Hollywood. "I've always wanted to be a cook," she said. "If I weren't acting, I would go to culinary school in a heartbeat."
Nevertheless, it was Ms. Faith who ended up grilling the fish; Ms. Ryan and Ms. Curtis sat on a nearby bench reading aloud from "Pandering," the new Heidi Fleiss memoir.
At long last, everyone grouped around a makeshift table created from a cluster of TV tables, eating fish tacos doctored with shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and various store-bought salsas.
No one was quite sure what the unopened bottle of Tequila Patron was doing in the middle of the table, surrounded by shot glasses, until Meredith Bagby, a DreamWorks development executive, accidentally ate an habanero pepper (10 on the 1-to-10 heat scale, one guest said).
"Do a shot of tequila right now!" Ms. Faith yelled.
Ms. Bagby did as told. Then, in a show of solidarity, Ms. Curtis ate an habanero - and threw back a shot of tequila, too. Others followed suit, and pretty soon the bottle was empty.
After dinner a few guests made their way over to a teak daybed on the other side of the deck to smoke. Others stayed at the table to poke at the remains of the meal. A glorious sunset came and went.
The last guests didn't trickle out until the next morning. After a surf, of course.