A Day in Palm Beach With Madame Fifi

Madame Fifi (aka: my mother) and I ventured today to the opulent world of Palm Beach. We lunched at Renato’s, a charming place off Worth Avenue where ladies in large hats drank martinis and picked at their salads.

The interior was quite lovely…


…though I felt out of place in my gray sweater. Next time I’ll know to wear my white pants and turquoise blue Ralph Lauren shirt with white sweater tied around my neck.


Mother and I split a Caesar salad to start.


Then I had the Sea Bass on a bed of saffron rissoto:


Mother had the seared tuna with a sesame-seed crust:


Ladies continued to pour in with their hats and sunglasses. The Stephen Sondheim song “The Ladies Who Lunch” came to mind:

Here’s to the ladies who lunch

Everybody laugh.

Lounging in their caftans and planning a brunch

on their own behalf.

Off to the gym

then to a fitting

claiming their fat.

And looking grim

’cause they’ve been sitting

choosing a hat.

Does anyone still wear a hat?

Apparently, yes. These hats were outrageous. Large turquoise bonnets with tiny birds around the brim. Our plates were taken away and the maitre’d came over and inquired as to why my mother was hatless.

“Madame Fifi,” he chided, “it is inappropriate to dine in Palm Beach without wearing a hat. We must ask you to leave.”

“Very well,” said mother, “but first we’d like some Tiramasu!”

The Tiramasu was brought, and we quickly chomped down.


“Come,” said mother, “let’s blow this joint.”

Outside, we resolved to Palm Beach ourselves. First, mother went hat-shopping:


Then jewellery shopping:


And I found a winning outfit to wear, our next time out:


We loaded into our car and drove away in shame. We took comfort in the conclusion of Sondheim’s song:

Here’s to the girls on the go,

Everybody tries

Look into their eyes

and you’ll see what they know,

everybody dies!

A toast to that invincible bunch

The dinosaurs surviving the crunch

Let’s hear it for the ladies who lunch

Everybody rise!

[Standing ovation, please.]

7 thoughts on “A Day in Palm Beach With Madame Fifi”

  1. Your mom’s tuna looked simply delicious. And coming from a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish, you can consider that quite a high level of compliment.


    P.S.- Don’t forget the ever popular “coral” color for men. Right up there with colorful ribbon belts and polo shirts when it comes to JCrew/Hamptons/Miami Beach/Ladied who lunch men’s fashion.

  2. Sondheim wrote ‘Company’ in the early 70’s. Folks certainly do NOT wear hats nowadays. The Palm Beach crowd should get a clue.

    Can you write an article on meat pies?

    From Oak Park, IL…

  3. OK, can I link to this site on my blog?

    Because you’re funny, quote Sondheim, live in my town and don’t write manic depressive blog posts – like some of us.

  4. Gotta love Sondheim. Actually, that whole song can be applied to gay men pretty much as is. Also, the tiramisu looks delish.

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