The Little White Box
By Laraine Newman
I’m sorry to say that my husband is much more romantic and sentimental than I am. He’s a better gift giver and a better surprise planner. That’s why I was completely unsuspecting when our family went to one of my favorite restaurants for Valentine’s Day several years ago. I loved Prego, in Beverly Hills, and to use a quote from Jerry McGuire “they had me at the breadsticks”.
Another thing I should mention is I’m not much of a jewelry gal. I appreciate the beauty of it, but I can’t navigate decorative rings, necklaces and earrings. I work too much with my hands and everything else is just a nuisance.
So, there we were, the four of us, actually dressed up nicely for a civilized evening out. The girls seemed agitated and I just chalked it up to the usual fussiness that stopped us from taking them out in the first place. When they were much younger they used to love The Daily Grille in Brentwood.
Their baby seats would clamp to the table top which I thought was charming until one day our youngest, Hannah, whose nickname was Bam Bam at the time, gleefully rocked it so hard she practically flipped our dinner.
I must say, in retrospect, that the agitation they displayed, had I bothered to pull my head out of my arugula and shaved Parmesan salad, had a conspiratorial taint to it.
“What’re you getting for dessert mommy?” asked Hannah, characteristically bouncing in her chair.
“I haven’t even finished my salad! And I hope you know you’re not getting any if you don’t eat your main course!” I was and remain today, the protein and vegetable police.
“Aw honey, it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s order the entire dessert menu.” Chad said. I looked at him incredulously. This was the guy that insisted sugar was the murderer of the immune system and issued a moratorium on it at the slightest sneeze or cough in the house. Oh, I should also mention he’s much more disciplined and consistent than I am when it comes to enforcing house rules.
I wasn’t going to argue with him that night. The whole dessert menu? Hell, yeah, bring it on! I thought.
When the waiter came by with the dessert plate I came to my senses and chose a Crème Brule. The waiter arrived at the table with what looked like a box made out of white mousse or white chocolate, a gateaux or something. Surrounded by a swirl of raspberry coulis, I had no reason to think otherwise. “Wait, I didn’t order that”. But I was thinking, “How the hell did they make that?”
But it was a real box. And the girls were about to explode as they insisted I open it. I was stunned. I knew it had to be some kind of jewelry, but the fact was, nobody had ever done something like that for me in my whole life. So well planned, so clever, so romantic…so lovely.
It was a ring. A ring by a designer we’d seen in the Palisades named Laura M. Chad has wonderful taste and chose all the stones and rather than describe it, I’m including a picture.
My husband is a complete jock. He played every sport in High School, even pole-vaulted. He was in a Junior Ice Hockey League in the Valley. Yeah, that’s right. The Valley. But you’ll never meet a funnier more romantic guy.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Laraine Newman is a founding member of The Groundlings Theatre Company and an original cast member of Saturday Night Live. She lives in her hometown of Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.