You never know what's going to pop up in a South Beach conversation. Maintaining my near-heretical stance of avoiding The Palace this weekend, I nevertheless felt the need for some libation after a day of shopping and stopped in on the boys at Twist's happy hour. Talked was drifting in the aimless waters of politics with city gadfly, Mike Burke, when the conversation took a quantum leap as Mike brought up one of my favorite supporting characters in modern history, Felix Yussupov, the murderer of Rasputin. Finally something I could sink my teeth into! We discussed the vast Yussupov wealth, the murder, the scandalous youth in drag (of course), the homosexual proclivities, and his memoirs, Lost Splendor. I gently corrected him when he asked if I knew Felix was a nephew of the Tsar, and explained that he had married Nicholas's niece, Irina, and was not a blood relative.
Then, out of nowhere, a Spanish queen name Estaban jumped into the royal discussion and said he had met the granddaughter of Empress Zita, Margarithe, who now lived in gentle poverty in Connecticut. Although I doubt that there is any poverty in Connecticut, I exclaimed that Zita is one of my other favorite supporting stars, who as the last--and short lived--empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, took to her grave the secret of what really did happen at Mayerling (but not before making some outrageous accusations). It has long been suspected that the real story of the murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf and young Baroness Mary Vetsera was a complete coverup. Estaban told us that Margarithe had only two formal gowns, one white for audiences with the pope and one black for everything else. I thought that a piece of remarkable good sense, one that could forever rid me of all those pastels in the closet. A spirited discussion ensued to no one's satisfaction, but I was delighted to return home knowing that these two intensely interesting characters had popped up at a happy hour. I brushed off all calls to go out, opened a bottle of champagne Jeremy had given me, cut and baked off a wedge of brie, and watched Moulin Rouge. I don't think the evening could have offered anything more satisfying than that which had already transpired.