Knee High Laughing Stock

Last week, Cass and I met up at Knee High Stocking Company, one of our favorite local speak-easy style bars for Happy Hour.

The gaudy paintings of angels on the walls and abundance of gin really makes me feel like I’m drinking at the Pearly Gates. It’s such a heavenly experience that I always expect some ethereal creature to return all my missing socks, and ask if I want to join a round of black jack with Earnest Hemmingway and Grace Kelly.

The point is this place is awesome, you guys. And it’s a hidden Seattle gem that you must enjoy if you’re willing to look very uncool while trying to be cool.

If you’ve never been before, you will no doubt tell your Uber driver to drop you off at Olive and Bellevue and you will do doubt have any idea where to go from there. Once you (finally) spot the door and accompanying doorbell you’ll wait outside, glancing over your shoulder feeling nervously out of place like you’re waiting in line for Plan B at the pharmacy.

Once inside you’ll navigate the dimly lit bar, probably running into someone and striking up a conversation. Here’s one of mine from last week:

British guy: “I must say, you are absolutely gorgeous, darling. No disrespect to the lucky lad you’re meeting here.”*gestures to Cass’s empty seat,

Me: “Thank you, that’s very kind of you. Waiting for my girlfriend, actually.” *gestures to Cass’s empty seat and eyes immediately widen once I realize what I said.

British guy: *Violently throws hands up as if to say ‘Don’t shoot!’. “Oh bloody hell I’m really sorry.”

Me: (The all-too-familiar explanation) “No she’s my roommate, I mean she’s like more than my roommate she’s my best friend. She’s not my girlfriend, I have a…”

British guy: “I think my friend needs me.”

Me: *Nervously looking around because I realize I’m in Capitol Hill. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

… how many times will this happen?

All humiliation aside, Knee High is perfect for Happy Hour and in walking distance if you work downtown (about 10 blocks north on Pike). Grab any drink with Ginger Beer for $5 and enjoy some of the best fish tacos for $3. Sit at the bar if you can and strike up a conversation with the bartenders, they may don facial hair more reflective of a butcher from the 1890s than a bartender, but they’re very friendly.

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If the wicked Happy Hour, knowledgeable and unpretentious staff isn’t enough to get you to come here, they let you make reservations via text which is yet another avenue to feel uncool for misanthropes like me. Before I send in my reservations, I find myself locking up my fixed gear and reading a quick article on Pitchfork in hopes of being accepted by the holy grail of hipsters.

For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to enjoy Knee High I highly recommend trying it out. Looking cool is optional.

Knee High Stocking Co, 1356 E. Olive Way. 206-979-7049, text messages only; www.kneehighstocking.com.

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Bach Cap 2/24

First step in writing a vapid and completely un-ironic Bach Cap? Finish your wine.

Pile on some Thai left overs ad nauseam and we’re locked and loaded, ladies.

Vamanos!

So we start in Kansas City, which is supposedly the gateway to the west which is kind of irrelevant considering I’m writing this from my couch ACTUALLY on the west coast. But I digress.

Juan Paublo, it’s either cold enough for a puffy jacket or warm enough for a deep V, but it can never be both. Choices must be made here, I thought you’d be good at that by now?

Nikki, who hasn’t managed to get her roots fixed despite coming home, “challenges cowboy Juan Paublo” to a brisket eating competition. Look honey, the only thing Juan Pablo has in common with any sort of cowboy is that they both dumped someone on their birthday.

The buck doesn’t stop there. Nikki and JP ride a mechanical bull together and make out on the wrestling mats of failure (awwww!). You can tell Nikki’s dreams are coming true. Kind of like how people really feel when they go to school naked accidentally.

Nikki takes him back to her midwestern (painfully, midwestern) parents and you can tell they don’t know whether to ask him for Nachos Bel Grande or tell him they won’t be needing his gardening services at this time.

After a few uninspired and completely scripted conversations as honest as the weight on my driver’s license, we move on to Atlanta to catch up with Andi who is STILL convinced she can pull off ombre’d hair.

Bleach-bucket-head takes JP shooting as a form of payback (trend?) for making her play soccer and dance in earlier episodes. I wouldn’t necessarily call “soccer” and “dancing” crazy things, Andi. If he made you jump through a ring of fire while riding a rabid mountain lion then yeah, crazy. Until then, you can find my sympathy between shit and syphilis is the dictionary.

Turns out JP can’t shoot a gun. Knowing what I know about his professional soccer carear, don’t color me shocked.

I don’t know why Andi is so scared about introducing him to her family. I mean, you’re bringing home some dude you met on a reality TV show who is coincidentally putting his Peter in  (at least) four other girls, that’s just another Tuesday in my book.

Andi’s dad starts crucifying JP because it took him so long to take Andi on a one-on-one date. Easy pops, it’s not Survivor there’s no fucking strategy. Don’t get drunk and cry in the bathroom and you’re pretty much set. 

If we’ve learned anything from studies performed by the Institute of Shit Everyone Already Knows, no one on the show is actually getting married. So, Hy, if that’s even your real name, your precious Andi will most likely be watching the show next season single in sweats like the rest of us.

We moved from Atlanta to the other taint of America to meet Rene and her son who could moonlight as dumbo if his little league career doesn’t pan out. Rene and JP watch the child’s baseball game and Rene comments that it’s nice to do everyday things as a couple. Except you’re actually a quintet and the only way those work out is if string instruments are involved.

In fact, Rene has been gone so long that she’s blindly unaware of Ben’s blatant homosexuality (referring to his pre-mature comb over and desire to make bracelets instead of go to baseball practice).

Anywho, all of this is NOTHING compared to Giada de Laurentiis/ Molly Shannon love child. CHOO CHOO all aboard the crazy train!

Back to you, Clare. In your daytime appropriate black lace cut-out dress. Be less from Sacramento, I dare you.

We step into their doubled-wide and it becomes immediately obvious that Clare 1) Was a mistake and 2) Has undergone some serious plastic surgery because the combined weight of her five sisters could easily classify as a small planet.  Sister Laura and Muma (seriously, it’s Mom- why are you saying it so weird?) step outside to completely ruin any shred of hope Clare had for their approval. The fat older bitter sister plays the fat older bitter sister card and convinced Clare she’s the bat-shit betch America has believed she was all along.

We come back from commercial break and it looks like one of the sisters is missing. I’m lead to believe fat older bitter sister ate her. This may just be because I’m distracted by how bad the commercials for Mixology are. Is it possible for a show to get cancelled based on commercials alone?

Spoiler alert, Juan Pablo eliminates the only semblance of a logical choice, Rene. Hopefully one day when her son is old enough to understand reality TV because he’s watching it in his flying space car, he’ll look up at her and say, “Mom, I really hope it was worth leaving me to get your heart broken on national television” oh wait…

Until next time,

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Return of the France

I always planned on bringing back Francy Pants, I really did. It’s just that I kept drinking too much wine and falling asleep while watching Catfish have been really busy training for my first half-marathon.

I suppose I waited so long because I thought I would wake up one day, and all of my experiences would come together and prove to be something more than just that. While I did not solve great mysteries in France, (like the meaning of life, or where the hell all my Tupperware lids are) I left with a few revelations about myself:

  • Under no circumstances can I pull off no make-up with red lipstick without looking like (I assume) Courtney Love postmortem.
  •  Champagne is appropriate at anytime of day, even if only to celebrate that there is champagne lying around.
  • There are small moments carefully strewn throughout circadian patterns in which is is not only possible, but spectacularly easy to adopt the lifestyle I so comfortably fell into in the Riviera in “real life.”

So welcome to Francy Pants 2.0, a place for my thoughts, experiences and unsolicited opinions in a big bloggy bouillabaisse.

It feels good to be back,

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Frantastic Item of the Moment:

I, in fact, am not better than The Gap.

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Printed Pointy Flats, $39.95; gap.com

Pinot Envy

 

Admittedly, I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and now, I’m no better than Paul Giamatti in Sideways.

That’s right, I have taken on the supercilious hobby of wine tasting.

I’ve always thought it was a little bourgeoisie, having visions of a wine snob arguing with fellow snob in crime

Snob#1- “I taste a hint of grapefruit and saddle leather.”

Snob#2- “I’d have to disagree with you Watson, I get a subtle hint of soil and burnt toast.”

Sure, it tastes kind of like soil if you’ve had all your taste buds burned off. Let’s just call a spade a spade here, and admit it tastes-oh I don’t know, winey.

From this experience, I learned the following:

1)   You have reached wine tasting superstardom when you can prescribe the most arbitrary flavors to the wine. The more outlandish, the better.

2)   I really relate to Pinot Noir. 

This variety, along with myself, is described as temperamental, time consuming, and expensive. Sound familiar? I’ll come back to this idea later.

I spent the past week in Paris. The beginning of the trip was fairly uneventful, so I’ll Tarintino this post and start with the ending.

*Makes dream sequence sound and fast forwards time

As all good things do, the trip ended at Gare D’Austerlitz where I was to be sent on my merry way back to Antibes. A cheerful piano player in the station assuaged the immediate depression of leaving, so I sat patiently and waited for my train.

After a while I noticed, like a roach motel, trains were checking in but they never checked out. I went to the information desk to act on my sneaking suspicion that something went horribly awry.

My conversation with the “customer service” (and I use that term loosely) representative went like this:

Customer Service: Oh, the trains are on strike.

Me: The train a half hour before mine just left.

Customer Service: They went on strike after that train.

The alacrity of his delivery was both impressive and condescending. As if he was saying “it’s Tuesday” or “Would you like fries with that?”

Me: Why are they on strike?

Customer Service: Inhumane working conditions.

Me: You get five weeks of vacation a year and work 35-hour weeks in France.

Customer Service:  Pretty bad, huh?

This did not make sense to me. Probably because I have a firm understanding of spoken language, and never suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

My train never came, and coincidentally, never left. In fact, within a matter of minutes there were no traces of trains or people in the station. Yet, the piano player was still harping on his instrument. This was mildly disturbing because this time it wasn’t enjoyable, it was creepy, like seeing a black cat under a ladder on Friday the 13th, or like when the guy is still playing the piano in a deserted train station.

The original barer of bad news left the station for the night, no doubt already maxed out his 35-hour workweek by Wednesday. I went to another attendant to try and get any information I could about the next train, only to find he knows as many words in English as Courtney Love has days sober. So when I say I talked to him, I mean I played a friendly and incredibly frustrating game of charades with him to ascertain the next departure time. This attempt was as successful as the Garth Brooks vs. Chris Gaines fiasco of 1999.

The next attendant I found spoke English (score!) but turned out to be a bit of a misanthrope. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: You don’t understand. My family is leaving Paris tonight, and I NEED to get home. You can’t just cancel trains and expect people to shrug it off! This is like Defcon 5 you need to do something! 

Rude Frenchie #972- Really? Defcon 5? The lowest level of disaster preparedness?

Touche frenchie. Maybe if all your military was as well versed in American defense policy you could shut down all those French white flag factories, eh?

Well, I did make it home. I even enjoyed a bit of a revelation on the train ride through vineyards growing the Pinot Noir I so very much enjoy.

I hate sounding like those tarts on daytime talk shows who stumble upon Kabbalah or anything really that allows them to explain everything in the universe before commercial break, but stay with me.

Although Pinot Noir and I share all those undesirable characteristics, there is also something wildly satisfying about finally getting it right. Sure, under a long, cold, and rainy season, I’m a bit of a sour grape myself. But when the conditions are just right, there is a window to taste just like saddle leather…wait, I mean a window to accomplish things no one expected of you.

-S.C

Stand By

Hello loyal readers!

I wanted to announce Francy Pants will be on temporary hiatus until next week. No, not like hiatus in showbiz terms because my blog is not being cancelled for a younger, prettier blog. I’ll be in Paris and promise to have a double-the-trouble-double-the-fun post as soon as I get back.

Cheers,

-S.C

The Era of Good Stealings

If you don’t keep up with Francy Pants, I’ll have you refer to The One Where Everything Went Wrong. You’ll get a sense of the living booby trap the residents of 23bis deal with on a daily basis. Whether our house is built on ancient Indian burial grounds (do those exist in the Riviera?) or you are playing us a song on the world’s smallest violin, I assure you there is some bad joojoo here somewhere.

This bad luck often culminates in a cacophony of broken glasses/jars/plates chiming in from every level of the house. You would swear we had the hand-eye coordination of Travis Coons (go Cougs) the way our drinking vessels plummet to their deaths nightly.

Dealing with our hardships bond us like those who were stuck in a malfunctioning elevator for an extended period of time, or served in the military- especially the French military because we’re lazy and really enjoy naps.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. When your wallet and waistline can barely afford another beer, let alone more stemware, your hands get a little sticky.

Affectionately, we have resorted to stealing glasses from our favorite Irish bar here in France. Shameful I know, but the accumulation of misfit pint glasses, shot glasses, and tumblers in our evidence locker of a kitchen led me to this week’s topic.

Glasses aren’t the only thing stolen here. Knowing I have less than 90 days left of school-cation, I have the overwhelming sense that time, in fact, is the most precious commodity. Far from pint glasses, peanut butter, or printer ink, time is the most valuable thing I wish I could get my hands on.

I’m serious about the peanut butter, though. If you want to make some money on the side, go to Costco and sell Skippy on the black market in Europe. It basically costs the tears of a virgin-Dutch milkmaid here.

As misleading as a blind date saying he is, “well, more or less in-between jobs right now,” so is the illustrious idea that time isn’t spent, killed, or stolen at an unprecedented rate.

This whole process of accepting time slipping away from you is difficult and uncomfortable at times. Like your first kiss, or admitting you voted for Nader. Moreover, the journey to this self-discovery crockery is a lot less glamorous than Julia Roberts makes it seem in Eat Pray Love. It involves a lot more house music and cheese than anticipated to amalgamate yourself into European culture. I regret indulging in both.

One of my favorite writers said, “I myself are entirely made of flaws stitched together with good intentions.” And I, Samantha Caltagirone, steal glasses from the Hop Store. With a squeaky clean criminal record, I justify this by protesting it’s only fair because of how much time is stolen from me, from all of us.

Maybe I left the states. Maybe I was the one worth leaving. But I’m dusting off my highest hopes for tomorrow. I will no longer be collecting things in order to replace those lost, I will be collecting moments, and those will never slip from my hands.

-S.C

The One Where Everything Went Wrong

I’ll admit it. The pressure got to me. I felt like I couldn’t write another post because I didn’t want to put out something that made Paris Hilton’s book look like a Pulitzer winner. I bet this is what Eminem felt like after his 6th album. Or like the 19th President felt.

Who is the 19th President you ask? Exactly.

Anywho, a lot has happened since my last post. Lessons were learned, stories were told, and meniscuses (menisci?) were torn.

Alas, I’ll take you back to the past two weeks where Murphy’s Law cruelly dictated the lives of the residents of 23bis Boulevard Wilson.

It all started innocently enough with a weekend trip to Venice. First we boarded train without knowing the appropriate stop, and immediately got lost as soon as we disembarked said train. A short walk down the sidewalk and I hear a scream I can only describe as of a little girl whose puppy you just put in the microwave. I turn around.

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Courtney’s luggage proceeded to break, leaving her with less of a handle and more of a weapon of mass destruction. At this point, I was seriously considering pulling a Lance Armstrong and taking my ball and going home.

Despite my better judgment, I managed to board the plane. I attribute the morning’s troubles to the loss of my Saint Christopher pendent. Call me crazy, but you grow up with Catholic guilt, I mean teachings,  you start to believe in that kind of stuff.

To say our first day was a disaster is the biggest understatement since the captain of The Titanic said it was, “just a scratch.” But I was not discouraged. Impossible is nothing right? Just like every brave woman in history ever taught me, Amelia Earheart, Joan of Arc…wow, things didn’t turn out too peachy for them now that I think about it. I redact my statement.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ll let you in on some key facts of day deux. Umbrellas in the Venetian wind are about as stable as Lindsay Lohan and when it rains, the water mercilessly befriends areas of your leg water normally does not. Also, there are no streets, hence no street signs. Street signs don’t matter. That’s right, like a frat boy with a girlfriend, they don’t matter.

After swim/walking around all day being hopelessly lost, we decide to take shelter in a quaint restaurant (you’d be hard pressed to find one that isn’t) and strike up conversation with the waiter about our perilous journey. He laughs at our struggles, and mutters this as he walks away.

“Ma chérie, c’est l’art de vivre.”

The art of living. It isn’t the daily struggles of living, the mundane moments at the bus stop of living, but the art of living. I can fairly confidently place my artwork between that of a two-year-old and creating a last minute high school paper mache project that is, “a comment on society, really.” But like every other craft, life takes practice. And although it doesn’t look like I’m graduating from t-ball any time soon, I’m up to bat.

Every day is a new experience. I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.

-S.C