Today is the first day you can get away with wearing a light jacket instead of a winter coat. The sky is a fuzzy blue baby blanket, the sun is a revelation. Winter's oppression lifting is like falling in love: You wait, and wait, and wait, but when it finally happens it feels sudden and unexpected. And like newly enchanted lovers, we are guileless. We know this bliss is fleeting, but right now we don't care. We are toasting impending spring this afternoon with a clementine mimosa at Katie's Pizzeria Café.
Katie must have been anticipating this day too, because the scene is set so perfectly. The bar is topped with irises and daisies, the mismatched tables and chairs with daffodils, Fellini's La Strada plays silently in black-and-white on the TV while Jenny Lewis softly croons her ballad "Pretty Bird." Never mind that the movie and the song are both, under the surface, kind of depressing -- we are impervious.
From our barstool we watch as lovely Danielle slices a couple of clementines in half and then squeezes them into a Champagne flute.
She tops the juice with prosecco, then carefully removes a single segment from a third clementine and places it on the rim of the glass. The drink is pastel orange, the color of an Easter egg, with bits of pulp floating in the bubbles on top. As we sip our mimosa, Danielle and her coworker Julie, equally lovely, smilingly peel the remaining piece of fruit and share it.
The character Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind instructs Joel, upon first meeting him, not to make any jokes about her name. She sings a few bars of "Oh, My Darlin', Clementine." He says, "It's a pretty name, though; it really is nice. It means merciful, right? Clemency?" She demurs, "Although it hardly fits. I'm a vindictive little bitch, truth be told." Sure enough, she will cause him much pain and suffering, and vice versa, but they don't know it yet. Or if they do (they seem to have an inkling, as this has all happened before), they are going to go ahead anyway. It doesn't matter. This is the blessed moment, the magical suspension of disbelief, the Beginning.
So, you've been around the block a few times. You've built up your resistance to Spring Fever. When that first warm breeze whispers in your ear, merciful and maddening, succumb. Go to Katie's, where the fruit is ripe, the flowers are blooming, and the girls are pretty. Drink up, and your memory of the long, dark winter fades. Your heart pumps sweet and sparkly clementine mimosa, your head buzzes with the birds and the bees, and everything is new again.
Katie's Pizzeria Café 6611 Clayton Road Clayton 314-727-8585