The Black and Blue Ball is an undisputed Santa Barbara summertime institution, a staple of the fundraising circuit, a well-documented highlight of the peeping calendar year, and equally well documented in its status as prime terrain for a Palm sighting. In short, the annual MDA benefit is a function that’s not to be missed. And so, last Sunday, I donned a frock that, while neither black nor blue, was decidedly festive, enlisted my Palminteri-lovin’ girlfriend, and made my way over to the DoubleTree Resort.
We arrived and, while my trusty date disappeared on a drink-ticket-procuring mission, I got to schmoozing. She returned with the goods to find me chatting with two men, who shall remain nameless, animatedly divulging their plan for the evening: an elaborate scavenger hunt featuring all manner of evil items best left to the imagination (or not: worst boob job, biggest trophy spouse, drunkest dancer : you get the idea). We sent them on their way, assuring ourselves that we weren’t items to be checked off their list, and set off on a scavenger hunt of our own. First up: food.
Noshing at the B&BB is nothing shy of legendary, yet, while we reveled in the deliciousness of the Bay Cafe’s shrimp-laden gazpacho, Rodney’s cream-covered filet bruschetta, and Chef Karim’s unbelievable chicken concoction, we were unknowingly working our way toward a treasure. A treasure in the form of meat on a stick-mini-corndogs that, yummy though they were, tasted all the more amazing because they heralded the return of two of my personal heroes: gourmet wiener proprietors Tony and Vinny, of The DogHouse fame, who’ve recently reappeared on State Street, under the name Lettuce B. Frank.
Ready for dessert, we piled our plates with chocolate-fountain-doused treats, planning on staging our insulin assault upstairs. Licking the chocolate off our fingers, we ran smack-dab into treasure number two: the man, the myth, the legend-The Palm. My date and he relived the magic moment they’d shared at the B&BB two years ago, until eventually, she, starstruck, managed to extricate herself from his magnetic pull.
We soldiered on, completing several laps, doing the requisite time on the dance floor during Edgar Winter’s set, and bonding with strangers in the ladies’ room. Debating our departure while crossing the lobby, we came across another B&BB gem: Matt McAvene and friends, merry pranksters who kept us laughing until we could hold out no more.
And though we hated to leave, we took heart-sure, we keep getting older, but the Black and Blue Ball stays the same. Until next year.