by C. Jeanette Tyson
when guilt shows up; itís only there to wreck things.
Thatís what I tell myself one night when I have to
stay in Dallas one night longer than Iíd promised my children, when they
say ďMama, you said youíd be home now, when are you coming?Ē I put the
phone down and run through the options in my head: crying, drinking,
throwing another log on the fire of corporate resentment.
And then it occurred to me. I would slam the
door in guiltís face and go to ZaZa.
The ZaZa is the first hotel in Dallas catering to the hipper-than-thou crowd. The decor is Marrakesh market meets Parisian whimsy. A chair in my room is embroidered with the
words ďSit Here.ĒEverything
is about texture, things rubbing up against each other in a sensual, playful
way: travertine and dark wood, sheer curtains and beaded pillows, bright
pinks, deep reds, dramatic light, rainforest showers. The halls are skulking
dark. Photographs of Hollywood legends and Prague prostitutes line the walls. Inside, everything is outsized and theatrical,
silly, when it comes down to it. Outside, in the palm-y urban oasis, two
huge beach balls spin in the Jacuzzi.
Iíd stayed here for the first time the night
before and ventured into the renowned restaurant Dragonfly. The cuisine,
like the dťcor, is pan-global. Mediterranean goes Asian, it seemed to me.Chef
Stephan Pyles and Executive Chef Jeff Moschetti, formerly at The Mansion at
Turtle Creek, know how to impress the discerning palette. But the
potstickers and calamari, while wonderful, were not the show. The show was
There were old men looking for younger women: a
handsome guy with a black t-shirt under his jacket kept looking at me; I
guess that put him in the even older guy category. There were old women
looking for their younger selves. There are hardworking folks looking for a
quick bite, traveling folks looking for a distraction, foreign folks looking
for an experience. It was a good mix, and it wasnít even Thursday,
allegedly the night for all aforementioned people and more to gather in a
frantic attempt to cross-pollinate.
Now Iím back, Night Two. Let me just say itís
been a long summer. I was away on business nearly a month, staying in a
hotel short on amenities but long on extra room for my kids. Now itís a
month in Dallas finishing that project, mostly with day trips from Austin. Iím in a dark editing suite all day with people who are certainly
entertaining, but, by now, a little too familiar. And I have to stay
But Iíve already slammed the door on guilt. With
that decision made, I decide to be brazen. First to the mini-bar for the
chocolate-covered cherries. Then, a quick dial-up and within the hour Iím
heading to the spa three floors up, swapping my clothes for a soft robe and
scuffling off to a massage with Rebecca.
Rebecca works out a nagging knot in my left
shoulder. In the background, I hear not the usual waves washing the shore or
wind chimes in the summer breeze but Gilberto Gil followed by Norah Jones. I
feel all kinds of things unravel. Rebecca says I donít look like the
mother of twins. Her tip doubles.
After the massage I have a bath. I donít do baths
at home. I donít have the time, or the tub, for that matter. There are
candles, silky oils, Dead Sea salts, and some trash mag interview with Jeff Bridges. Really, is there any
other choice? I slip in, put a cool cloth on my forehead and let
whateverís left of my resistance to the world drift away.
After a half hour or so, I reluctantly pull the
plug and scuffle back into the changing room and into my own clothes. I ask
if one of the staff members could carry me back to my room, piggyback would
be fine, and itís about the only request the ZaZa doesnít honor.
bath, whatís next, of course: room service.
There are exotic choices. Ginger beef with wasabi
mashed potatoes. Salmon with garlic spinach, tomato-ginger relish and
coconut curry sauce. Striped bass with crushed fingerlings and watercress
fennel sauce. But I order the Morroccan spiced Roast Chicken with seven
Moist and tender and absolutely out of this world.
Or pan-global. Whatever. Comfort food. There in my jammies.
The smell of eucalyptus lingers and Iím reminded
nourishment can be taken in many forms. There I was, after a long, hard
summer of tending to business and to the kids, now faced with circumstances
beyond my control, deciding to tend to myself.
The only g-word I felt was great.
C. Jeanette Tyson rambles a bit for both work and column. And would
go to the end of the earth for
and Maddy. ZaZa is at 2332 Leonard Street in Dallas. 1-800-597-8399.