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Holiday Conundrums

Advice from the modern gentleman and lover.


Tesauro, who has lived in 10 states, says he likes to "take part in shaping a city's cultural literacy" — like when he participated in the poetry slam scenes of Atlanta and Memphis. He also has an affinity for many forgotten ways of life: He's usually wearing some sort of lid; he says he courted his wife by "phone and letter"; and he enjoys taking his manual typewriter to bars and coffee shops to write. "I'm forced to look at the blank page," he says, "and things happen when you're in the moment like that."

Tesauro enjoys a flexible job as marketing director for Barboursville Vineyards, which allows him time with his wife, 2-year-old son and, of course, the typewriter. He will read from "Lover" Friday afternoon at Fountain Bookstore. If you're lucky, he'll encore the champagne-sabering demonstration that went over so well at the book's October release party.

Until then, we thought we'd ask Tesauro for some holiday advice. After collaborating with Mollod, his literary other half, here's what they offered.

Style: What's something you can do to stand out or impress a girl at a holiday cocktail party?

The Gentlemen: Draw a saber to open a bottle of champagne. It's quite dashing to behead the bubbly with the back side of a large, heavy kitchen knife or a champagne saber. It takes but a moment to learn, and with a deft touch, you'll neither bust windows nor squander gobs of sparkling wine. And be a subtle zealot when it comes to chivalry — namely, take the lady's coat, fill her flute and steer the saucy coquette under the mistletoe for furtive smooches.

A friend has one too many cocktails at a New Year's soiree and comes on to you. Should you cross the line with the friendship?

Friends with long-standing yet unexplored chemistry may find shared candy canes, spiked punch and a New Year's kiss a lethal combination against platonic propriety. Even if it leads to a "what were we thinking" chuckle the next day, aren't those lips worth examining up close just once?

When your date shows up for your Christmas party looking nothing like her picture, what do you do?

Sometimes the postman puts someone else's letter in your box. Practice matchmaking savvy and steer her toward a friend with a solid referral and more promise of a love connection.

What's something special you can do to surprise and delight your love during the holidays? What's your secret weapon to make her melt?

Adroit lovers need not pull rabbits out the top hat, but an arsenal of arousing, romantic notions is just the trick. Supplement practical gifts with boutique chocolates, aromatic cheeses, plump figs, and earthy truffles — treats not merely for Valentine's Day. Lead a mate eyes-closed around your menagerie of meltable delights and play an olfactory guessing game that leads to scrumptious fun by candlelight.

What's a festive cocktail you recommend for a romantic gift exchange or to serve guests at your annual party?

Go classic and employ the punch bowl; make a diet-busting eggnog from scratch and grate fresh nutmeg. For gift exchange, flout the state moonshine laws and infuse your own vodkas with local berries or garden herbs. When in doubt, purchase a fine brown liquor — Armagnac, Calvados, small-batch bourbon — and present with an engraved flask. S

Tesauro will be at Fountain Bookstore in Shockoe Slip Friday, Dec. 17, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. for a holiday book signing and cider cheer. Call 788-1594.

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