Waiting for Grahame

Awaiting dinner with the owner of the Royal Davui in Fiji. Photo by Christopher Southwick.

Marguarite, who reminds me of a curvaceous Farrah Fawcett (in her “Charlie’s Angels” days), has her eyes closed and looks like she might be either napping or meditating as I gently ease myself into the poolside chaise next to her at the Royal Davui.

Without moving a muscle or opening her eyes, she whispers, “Do you think we should get some champagne?”

How did she know it was me? (Or am I being presumptuous? Perhaps she’d have said the same thing to whoever sat next to her.)

“You know my feelings about champagne,” I murmur.

“I do,” she says. “The same as mine.”

Before either one of us can lift our bodies off our chairs, here comes Siteri, carrying an ice bucket with an unopened bottle of Veuve Clicquot. “Bula, Mr. David. Shall I open the champagne?”

The evening is fine. Windless, tropical. As Siteri is opening the bottle of Veuve, a coconut drops from a tree not fifteen feet away. The ripe nut lands with a heavy thud, startling us. “Oh!” exclaims Marguarite.

Siteri pours Marguarite and I a glass of champagne, deposits the bottle in the ice bucket, and walks over to pick up the coconut. “For cocktails later,” she says before walking up the stone path to the open-air restaurant and bar spread out beneath the sprawling limbs of a 150-year-old banyan tree.

Christopher Southwick, Royal Davui’s marketing director (and son of the owner, Grahame Southwick), comes down to the pool to join us.

“I see you’ve gotten into the champagne already,” he says. He pours himself a glass and plops down beside us. “Marguarite has you sitting next to dad tonight,” he says to me. “That makes me nervous.”

“Why?” I ask him.

“You’re too much alike. I’m afraid you’re both going to get into trouble.” He takes a sip of his champagne. “It scares me to think about.”

One by one the others in our group arrive. Cindy, carrying a plastic disposable camera which she uses to take photos of our beautifully-set table down by the beach, and Katie, her wet hair pulled back into a tight bun who ignores the champagne but goes straight for a platter of crudités spread across taro leaves. “I’m starving,” she says, dipping a celery stalk into the olive tapenade.

The Veuve runs dry. Christopher asks Siteri for another bottle and then, as he’s refilling a glass, nervously drops a flute on the flagstone pool deck. When I spring up to help him pick up the shattered glass, he puts his hand out like a stop sign. “Don’t move!” he says. “You’ll cut yourself. Let me do it.” He curses under his breath and then calls to Siteri to bring him a broom and dustpan. Christopher regains his composure and, smiling, looks at the five of us sprawled over our chaise lounges, drinking our champagne and waiting for his dad’s arrival for dinner.

“Look at you,” he says. “It’s like Dave’s harem.”

And it is, in away. Four beautiful women around me. A tropical evening. Champagne.

“I need to get a picture of this,” he says. And so we smile and he takes our picture. And then pours more champagne into our glasses. As all of us—even Christopher—nervously wait for his father’s arrival.

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1 comment

  1. Fred Harwood’s avatar

    This should be fun; Dad/David, by David, tomorrow.

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