The invitation arrived well before the Saturday evening event at the country club signaling the kind of party it would be by suggesting you come in your fancy clothes. Our dear friend was celebrating his mother’s 95th birthday. Wow, I would be a youngster there. We love the host, Michael, we love his wife, Valerie. We accepted the honor.
No problem with my dress. I had shopped hard to find a Grandma-of-the-groom dress for my darling grandson, Austin’s wedding to wonderful Beth a year ago when I was stricken with ill health and could not attend. I have the strappy, pointy toe shoes. I decided against the knee length skirt covered with strips of diagonal ruffles, I’d be in the wheel chair. Surely a silky pant. Yes, here’s one from a wedding in Sweden about 40 years ago. Throw nothing out – you never know. Art had his black suit at the ready. He showed me the brown plaid shirt he intended to wear with an orange tie. He wore a white shirt and the tie had a little pattern on it. One party-goer stood conspicuous in his tan suit and I did not see a mate with him who would have hollered 'No you’re not!'
A good friend drove us. He assured us he would retrieve us. At any hour. He did mention that he and his son were leaving the house the very next morning at 6 for a bike ride into the city along the lakefront. A 20-mile bike ride at any time would be crazy, but 6 AM is nuts. The country club grounds ambled on and on. Finally the Club House. Many in attendance already. We were greeted by a lovely lady who introduced herself as the birthday celebrant. This is what 95 looks like today? This is the old lady I was going to burnish my appearance on? This handsome woman who had joined into the melee of dancers at the end of the party? God Bless Her.
We joined the party and Art pushed my chair as we looked for a familiar face. None. So we rolled around again looking at all the food on tables circling the huge room. I was looking for anything that couldn’t drip. From of the many circuiting trays I chose a tiny crispy cone with salmon, and an enclosed wrap, crab? Big drink bar. We drifted then settled at the periphery to watch the passing show.
What a show. Red Carpet at the Oscars? Forget it. One dress after the other of gorgeousness. Sitting in a wheelchair the perspective is different. Although you see the dress, more attention is on the skirt and shoes. Dresses with hemlines covering the crotch dropping in the back sometimes to the floor, sometime to the calf, but in various shapes, sharp point off center and varieties of that. One dress took considerable attention to figure out – long to the floor sheer scarf with tall, loose swaying fronds coming back to the waist. Mostly black with a sprinkling of white dresses, silver. A little color. Bare shoulders, bare backs. Oh yes, my dress had come with bare shoulders, but I had the tailor put on chiffon sleeves. And the shoes! You see them in the mag ads, staggeringly stunning, but nobody staggered, and all with the fragile ankles required.
Intermittently someone would come up to distract me by being socially gracious. My hearing aids were exploding with sound so I had to remove them which left me practically deaf. I was “chatting” with a lady, nodding when she nodded, shaking my head sadly with some commiseration in response to her expression at that moment and smiling and nodding as she parted. I turned to Art, offering up my ear for translation. He reported. She said her husband died and they have a houseful of books she wants to sell you. O M G Did you get her name? He nodded.
Interrupting the uniformity of the men in black, were the long legged Men in Kilts. Valerie is a gen-u-wine Scot. Her guests from Scotland came appropriately attired in the colorful Scottish garb lending whimsy to the room. I called up to this handsome man, “You look great!” and his face broke into a little boy’s big grin.
While I appraised all this beauty, Art was watching the door to the banquet room, with our little ticket #4. We entered to find #4 where I would have chosen, back up against the window wall with a panoramic view of the room. However when seated, the room became a mass of black suits.Still, it was showtime. As Dr. Michael called each man to address the crowd, it was synchronized, choreographed. The 350 guests raised their glasses, laughed, nodded, and applauded. Me, deaf as the doorknob sat like a bump on the log. Good planning put a friend/couple next to us. She said they moved to our neighborhood. I asked whether they could drive us home Sure, she said. Art grabbed his phone and released our driver, Jeff. The good dinner finally. Me fish, Art steak, and next to him a huge bowl of Pilaf, vegan?
The tables cleaned, the musicians were on. The dancing crowd centered the floor. Hello, dancing Birthday Mother. And there was Melanie, swinging with wild abandon. Melanie had just come down only this year from living in a tree house in Maui, but she adjusted to Chicago streets quickly. Melanie is interested in theater and is now involved with Impromptu (Second City) and you can bet she’s a winner at that too. When Joanie showed back at the table, Art asked whether we could leave. Astonished she said, They haven’t served coffee yet , I can’t leave without my coffee. Art, finally, catching on to the tempo, picked up his camera and walked into the crowd of dancers for his own pictures. Coffee came. They drank coffee, me¸ green tea.
Suddenly, Joanie rushed up. My son phoned, he’s at the house, I forgot, can we leave immediatley? We retrieved Art and scurried out.
Back at the house, I looked at the clock. We had left at 5 PM. Surely it was now 4 AM? What? What? It was 10:40 PM. Never-the-less I considered flinging myself into the bed in my Austin-Beth dress, but tossed it to the chair where it slithered off along with my long strand of white-water pearls. In bed, before falling asleep, I realized I had a MARVELOUS time.
Thank you again, Michael, Valerie, and Happy Birthday to 95 year old Mother!!!