Peach Fez

Hmm. Hotlanta again. This was my first visit to Georgia's peachy heart since last year. I had come to expect great things after my least visit when the Femme Fantastic was born. (see Marrying Up's Little Black Book), but the city was so sweltering that all I wanted to do was stay in my little Buckhead Hotel room instead of going out to hunt for adventure or even mall treasure. My escorts had other plans and they finally convinced me to dress coolly and venture out onto the strip.
They didn't tell me where we were going at first, it was only promised that I would be fed and that I would have a good time. I was tense, but trying to go with the flow as I watched from the car window, taking in the sites as we crept past the Atlanta lights.
It goes without saying that Buckhead is trendy. We passed by several Starbucks, a slew of upscale hotels, a chain bookstore and scores of other places with original names like Uranus. Uranus was next to another place called Tongue in Groove and the tenseness I was feeling kicked up a notch. The door was open and the lights were flickering and I could only see male heads in there. Uranus. Tongue in Groove. 'Nuf said. I held my breath as thankfully, we kept right on going.

We stopped at a place that had no lights, no glitter and didn't stick out at all. The parking lot to Imperial Fez was full, but quiet, haunted only by two valet parking folk. They flashed obligatory smiles and held the door open for me as I did the Princess Pivot, turning, then planting the stiletto heels firmly and feminine-like on the asphalt, rising as gracefully as possible from the car. Little did I know another world was awaiting on the other side of the large brown door.

I stepped into a room spread with overlapping area rugs, in various shades of reds, browns and golds. There was no one there to greet us at first, but a smallish woman, very pretty, hurried to the front. Now the first thing I always noticed is the shoes of course, and she was wearing these slipper like things that reminded me of I Dream of Genie, complete with the requisite curling toes. She cleared her throat and my eyes made their way to her face. I couldn't place her. She have been from Morocco or Ethiopia as easily as South Central LA, I wasn't sure.
"You have reservations?"
We didn't.
"Okay, just take off your shoes and leave them over there."
The sound I heard in my head was akin to that of a needle being snatched off a priceless vinyl record. NO. She. Did. Not. Say. Take. Off. My. Shoes.
She'd pointed to row upon row of cubbies that lined the walls.
I nodded but didn't move as she left us in the vestibule. I glared at the others my group. "What the hell--"
"It'll be fine," They assured me.
They obviously had no idea of the attachment I had to the items on my feet. They weren't just shoes, they were collector's items. My collection.
I scanned the shoes in the cubbies. Steve Madden. Mizrahi for Target. Birkenstock. No way was I going to stick my Choos into that lineup. I pondered my choices. Ummmm. I don't think so. I wound the ankle straps around the sole and stuck them under my arm like a strangely shaped clutch handbag.
The woman from everyone's 'hood returned and led us to our table. It was in a room that had quilted walls and ceilings hung with curtains. The music that played sounded like hip hop meets middle east. But the vibe was cool. Very cool.
And then I saw the table. It was one of those itty bitty ones, like they use in my kid's preschool. We shimmied down on to the pillows surrounding it and I gave thanks that tulip skirts were in.
The waitress introduced herself. I noted that she had the same sort of accent as the lady in the front. It fit right in with the surroundings.
She brought out a large silver toureen and handed us bath towels, which she instructed us to place over our left shoulders. Lawd a'mercy, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, too! Was she saying that there was no silverware and we must eat with our fingers? The right hand only, she instructed, then told us hold our hands over the toureen as she poured very warm water over them from another silver teapot-looking thing.
And then the food came. And kept coming. Five courses of it. I can't remember what any of it was, other than I ordered the vegetarian fare, but we definitely were treated to a smorgasboard of interesting tastes, colors and smells, all of which we ate with our hands.
But the surprises were not over yet. An announcer (the owner) began speaking on the mike, first in French, then in Arabic (I think) and finally, in English. We were about to be treated to traditional belly dancing.
Alrighty. Just what we needed. Some Rumpshaking.
I sank back into my pillows just as the lights went low. The dancers began to sashay through the tables.
Now, everything I have ever read, seen or heard about belly dancers says that one thing must be true, in order to be effective, there must be some belly to shake. Well, one of the women was just missing it. She was shaking more of the sequins tied around her hips for effect than she was her was belly, but the girl was trying. She was so po' (as my grandmama would say), I wanted to give her some of my rump to shake, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. One full bodied woman REALLY knew what she was doing, I mean, her navel was just walking up, winking and saying hello to everyone.
Folks started to wave dollar bills in the air. OHMIGOODNESS! This was like sanctioned lap dancing. Even the women and the kids got into it, sticking their bills into the tops of the womens almost-trousers (for lack of a better word). I sat there scowling a minute, and then I started calculating. One of those chicks had so much money sticking out of various parts of her clothing she looked like some sort of exotic money tree.
I sipped the traditional Moroccan concoction they slipped in front of me and loosened up. It was all good. The dancers went away and then returned again to dance, this time with fire on their heads. (You know, a sister-girl couldn't done this because our hair products are flammable). At the end, they tried to get us to dance with them. I was not feeling that, (my drink didn't have enough alcohol in it for all that) although it was far more dignified than dropping it like it was hot. One of the men in our party tried it for a hot minute on the way out, but I reached up and slapped him on the back of his neck and it was all good again. Imperial Fez was definitely an experience. Dinner and a show with a twist. Or should I say a shake?

More info about Imoerial fez can be found at


parnel said…
Give up the shoes Nina. No one would dare touch any of your's. They know you would track them down and would be carrying a big jar of Vaseline when you found them.
What is it with women and shoes. I don't think I've date or married a woman that didn't have a "closetful" of shoes. I have less than a dozen, half are work or work-out shoes. I don't need any more. Know why? Black goes with just about anything. Brown, works where black is only OK. Come on ladies. Can you stop at only TWO dozen shoes?
By the way, Nina, you know you grew up eating with your fingers. That KFC was kickin' and you know it.

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