Sunday, June 27, 2010

Calling Alexa Hente

Yesterday afternoon my mother-in-law arrived. She's here for a week, and she's worth her weight in gold. She's one of those people who starts a task, and there's no let-up whatsoever until the job's finished. It's just what I need. She's one of those incredible women with a lifetime of strength under her belt, and a whole kitbag of peculiarities. Each and every one of them adorable.

So, last night after we'd eaten, we're all chilling with the telly and the dessert she'd made. I was enjoying it and suddenly she pipes up, "I see Alexa Hente approves", referring to me. She says, "You know. Alexa Hente. Alexa Hente approves. From that commercial way back. You know the one I mean. The one with the coffee and... ooh, hang on.... it's coming to me... yes, I remember now... Juan Valdez was in it..."

Okay... now I'm from England, and our commercials are different to Amercian ones. I'm neither use nor ornament in this one. So, it's the sidelines for me as she starts to zero in on Jason.

"Yes... Juan Valdez." she excitedly continued. " I think it was the Colombian Coffee ad... and... ooh... yes... it's coming to me now... what was his name... Alexa... that's it... Alexa Hente."

And so it began.

Half an hour later, and we're still searching for this Alexa Hente guy. We've decided between us that it probably isn't Hente at all. That it's perhaps spelled with a "G"... or maybe a "J". Maybe it ends in an "ay". And maybe Alexa could possibly be Elixa... or Alixar... or... maybe it isn't quite Alexa at all, but just sounds like it.

"You know what...?" says Barbara as we draw yet another blank on Google. "Maybe it wasn't coffee at all. Yes... I think... I think I can see grapes. Yes... maybe it wasn't coffee beans at all. Maybe it was grapes. I think it was. I can see it now. There's a bottle of wine, and grapes... and there's... Alexa Hente. Yes, it's grapes."

We forgot the telly, and googled for most of our chill time for this bloke Alexa Hente, Alexa Gente, Alexa Jente, Elixhir Hente... and just about every phonetic possibility we could dream up. Then we did YouTube. It was a television commercial afterall, it must be out there on YouTube.

But it wasn't.

This morning, we started getting the workshop ready for an early start tomorrow. I love having Barbara to help me. It's relaxed, it's often good fun, and it is always on pace and with a purpose. So, after a few hours of prep, Jason took us out for Sunday lunch. We crashed Yankee Candle's flagship store. They have a great restaurant there, called Chandler's. And the three of us sat at a lovely window table. The meal didn't dissapoint, and we talked and laughed and just basically got lost in our own company. Sitting after with our wind-down coffees, it wasn't long before Alexa Hente came up again.

"I wonder why he isn't on Google." starts Barbara. "He has to be. I didn't dream it. There really was a commercial. I remember it. I can see it in my head. I know he existed. I'm telling you, it happened." And we stand up to leave.

As we're walking through the aisle, there's a nice older couple also sitting at a window table. I mentioned to Barbara that I'd bet they'd know. They're older... they'll remember television commercials from back in the day. And as we passed their table, I had to. I just had to. I bent down, and politely excused myself, and asked them point blank if they knew Alexa Hente from the telly. Okay... with my English accent I can get away with it. It's good when you come across as ditsy. And in less than a minute we have a whole conversation going on with them about coffee... grapes... wine... Juan Valdez... and yes... Alexa Hente.

We drew a blank though.

And we drew a blank in the gardens that we walked through on our way back to the car. Couple after couple. We asked them all, old and young. Many mentioned coffee, but I think it was because we'd already mentioned Juan Valdez. At one point Barbara even got out her phone and phoned a friend of hers back in New Jersey. "She must know. She knows everything." But she didn't, and we left Yankee Candle gardens and parking lot, still non the wiser.

And now it's 9.15pm on Sunday evening. Alexa Hente is still haunting us. And I'm throwing it open to the gallery. Come on you Manor Hall Soap Folk. Who remembers Alexa Hente? There's a soapy thing or two going to the first one to reply to this post with a comment that will put us out of our misery. Who knows Alexa Hente???


Myles said...

"Alexa Hente"! Gotta love it--what a great mondegreen.

I think what you want is "El Exigente," which does sound like dear old Alexa Hente. El Exigente was "the demanding one" in old ads for Savarin coffee. The character was played by Carlos Montalban, brother of actor Richard.

For more on this, see

Cheers, Myles

Myles said...

Oops! My turn to goof. I meant, of course, brother of actor Ricardo.

Manor Hall said...

El Exigente! Ha!

I can't believe we didn't think of that one! OMG that's soooooo funny. And it was coffee! The link was brilliant. Thank you. Thank you so much!

I knew someone would come through for me.

Myles, please email me so that I can arrange to have some soapy stuff delivered to you.

Myles said...

Thanks, Susan! It's a rare treat to be able to help with something like that. Your writeup about all this was charming. Regards to your world-class mother-in-law!


Manor Hall said...

Thanks again, Myles. Have a great Independence Day weekend!

Myles said...

Package of soapy stuff arrived today (Friday, 7/9). Thanks so much for your generosity! Will think fond thoughts of Alexa Hente and Manor Hall whenever I shower.

Manor Hall said...

You're welcome, Myles. Enjoy!

Glenn said...

Wow. I loved this! I stumbled upon it while googling Alexa Hente, Alexa Gente, Alexa Jente, etc. My father used to refer to El Exigente all the time when I was a kid, and for some reason I decided to try to decipher the reference tonight -- 35 years after the fact.

I'd like to send Myles some soap, too!

Jess what? said...

I'm so happy to have found your hilarious blog! My childhood nickname, from babyhood, has been, so I thought, Alexa Hente..... but yeah, I figured that couldn't quite be right. El exigente makes way more sense!