Thursday, September 30, 2010

My evening at the Willow Manor Ball...

You know it's going to be quite an evening when the right song plays at just the right moment.

As Humphrey and I walk in the crowded entryway, smiles all around, "Swingin' on the Moon" by Mel Torme was right on cue.  Excitement swirled as my eyes take in the star-studded who's who.

I was worried I'd not dressed perfectly for the evening.  I guess every girl wonders.  But as I look around, I'm thrilled that I decided to wear the black sheath.  There are so many flares and flounces.  I like to stand out just a bit.  The sleek look is all mine tonight. 

When I opened the door and saw Bogie in his white dinner jacket, I could tell enchantment was in the air.  He is a wonderful man.  We've been dating for about six months and I should feel like the luckiest lady alive.  But something in me is holding back, I'm not sure what.  He is a gentleman, and treats me like fragile gold leaf.  What's missing, I can't quite put my finger on.  It can't be his age, because I've always enjoyed older men.  Conversation is always spot-on.  Never a dull moment with Bogie, that's for sure.  But I know when we kiss, something is not there that should be.

Snap out of it, I tell myself.  Allow yourself to be whisked off to the event of the year, silly girl!

There is Willow, looking radiant.  I'd look a terrible mess after pulling together such an amazing presentation. She's such a social butterfly with men dripping from her wings like morning dew.  It's hard to tell who's her offical escort.  What a zingy glare she just threw at Marilyn!  That's my girl, defend the home field.  When will Marilyn learn not to cross women like Willow?

The food smells delictable, the candle light enchanting, the manor has an eerie elegance.  The festive atmosphere has chased most of the eerie away.  Every now and then, it floats through like a faint white whisp.  But, that's probably just me.  I imagine things sometimes.

An underdressed lady with long wavy tresses just took our picture.  It is a good thing to be on the arm of Mr. Bogart.  Who knows where that picture will pop up!

There's Bette Davis, prattling on about the social drama that always seems to gather near her.  I don't mean to say she's a gossip, bless her beautiful heart, because gossip usually has some element of truth.  For goodness sakes, who would ever believe that rubbish about George Sanders in drag!  Preposterous fabrication, that's all.

Bogie has gone about greeting his comrades.  Just as a vintage glass of bubbly lands in my hand and Sammy Davis begins to croon, "I Want to be With You" I catch a glimpse of a dark profile in the corner.  An old familiar staccato beat echos through my chest.  I don't recognize the person, but I recognize the feeling.  It's what's missing with Bogey.  Oh Sammy, not now!

The handsome figure steps to avoid a rushing h'ors douvre tray and the shadows give him up.  I feel as if I'm standing there completely naked as the steely eyes of Pierce Brosnan bore through me.  I feel my head tilt, my face turn ever so slightly, and my lashes take a dramatic round trip to my lower lids and back.  What am I doing?  My best flirting, that's what!  And it's working.

Pierce moves no air at all as he cruises up next to me at the coctail bar.  We've both turned our eyes forward, which I think is what bars were made that way for.  They force everyone to face the same direction, drawing the bellies in, so that no one knows who's eyes are longing for whom.  Unless you're caught peeking, that is.  I will not be caught.

Pierce defies the bar and spins around until he faces the dance floor and only his elbow graces the mahogany edge.  I hold out.  I will not speak first.  It would probably be best if Bogie showed up about now.

"You look like you're missing something, hon."

I'd be indignant if anyone else called me "hon" on a first meeting.  But the way he says it crumbles my dignities.  I attempt an air of distance in the risky conversational dance, yet I find myself moving toward the terrace door at his suggestion that the gazebo is a must-see.

Pierce has gone before me and I stop to chat with Mr. Berowne on my way.  I had intended to catch Berowne's eye this evening.  I've heard he's a film and video producer, perhaps just the kind who would take notice of a young aspiring screenwriter like me.  But thoughts of the gazebo prompt me to cut short the shop talk with Mr. Berowne.  I'll catch up with him maybe tomorrow at Brunch.

I can't believe I am playing the game.  We both know I arrived with Mr. Bogart.  We knew not to exit the room at the same time.  Bette would have a hay day with that!

The night air is electric with anticipation and forbiddenness.  The staccato beat trips again as I see his chiseled profile in amber light emanating from the floating porch.  Lilac perfume dances around us as our eyes finally admit we've arrived at the same place at the same time on purpose.  My head does its turn, my chin does its tilt... I am shameless.

Why am I not swooning at the sounds of Leonard Cohen?  Why am I not swirling with my favorite group of girls?  Why am I not savoring the heat of Willow's tango or the sweet sensuality of Patrick's mambo?  Why am I not captivated with all this evening has to offer? Why am I not whispering in Bogie's ear in some dark corner?

For the first time, I genuinely question who I will leave with tonight. 

"Jacqueline!"  Pierce's veneer cracks for the first time.  A woman has appeared on the other side of the wisteria vine where I've tucked myself for dramatic effect.  His eyebrows rise and then his wiles take over.  "I just came out for a breath, doll.  That Glenn fellow's cuban cigars were stifling.  Come dear, I hear there is a card game in the parlor."  He whisks her off before I realize that by the slight shadow of purple and vines, I've gone unnoticed.  Jacqueline had arrived on the arm of Pierce Brosnan, I now realize.

Of course, as fate would have it, Bogie was looking for me as well, and rescued me from a yarn I'd gotten into with Zsa Zsa and Lesley.  Under usual circumstances, I'd have been caught up in that type of chat.  But tonight I'm distracted.  I snap back to reality when Bogie mentions "cards".

I spend the next two hours in a smokey room with howling card-playing guests, ties hanging around opened collars, mascara beginning to slide south, releasing themselves from the refinement of evening unto the droopy early morning hours.  There are cards and there is liquor, lots of liquor.  I wonder if Willow has perhaps even gone to bed?  There's always that crowd that stays too late at every party, and now I'm in it.

I hold a fan of cards, but you could hardly call it playing.  Pierce, so aptly named, continues to toss silent darts from across the felt-topped table toward the bridge of my nose.  His gazes are obvious, and getting more and more so.  Jacqueline and Bogie are both three sheets to the wind.  No one will notice.

I slip out to the unmanned bar to pour myself the customary glass of ice water that must follow any more than two glasses of champagne if I'm to function tomorrow, which is seriously in question at this point.

Pierce's voice comes from over my left shoulder, "You know you've been at a party too long when you hear the same song twice."

Yes, there it is.  The theme of the evening, one more time.  "I Want to be With You."  I toss six months with a Hollywood legend behind me like a scented scarf in the wind, and leave this year's Willow Manor Ball with Pierce Brosnan.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Willow Manor Ball

I have no idea what a cyber ball is, but I am SO THERE!

Judging from the aesthetics and the company I've enjoyed at Willow Manor, I surmise it will be an elegant event!  Not only will I be working on my cyber-appearance, apparel and accompaniment, I think I'll also need to gussy up my site a bit.  I'm feeling classy just thinking about it...

Maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I've never felt more beautiful than I did that night.  I was fifteen years old.  The annual Christmas party was being held next door to my Grandmother's house.  I was excited to get it over with because afterwards I was going to the sock hop, and HE had asked if I would be there.

He was the new guy at school.  Dark hair, dark eyes and a bit of a bad boy flair.  We didn't have new students often.  It was a mystery why anyone would move to our little no-news town.  The hype about this new handsome stranger was building.  And he had asked about me!  What a dramatic twist of high school fortune for an alluring Junior to notice just a regular Freshman like me.  I didn't consider myself popular, I assumed I blended in most of the time.  How had he even seen me?

I had been floating since I got the call from my best friend Andrea with the news.  We both knew that putting in an appearance next door was an essential prelude to the main event.  The glory and hope of being admired transformed the previously boring Holiday meet-and-greet into a magical experience.  The air was crisp with the smell of fresh pine centerpieces.  Crystal serving dishes glistened like new fallen snow against the white buffet table cloth.  The decadent smell of heavy hours d'oeuvres filled the air as I greeted the two silver-haired hostesses with a smile that felt brighter than usual.  Their home was impeccably decorated each year, but I was never so captivated by their Christmas tree.  The one in the front window of Macy's paled in comparison.

Glass punch cup in hand, I noticed my grandparents' contemporaries and other community figures might not be so stodgy after all.  Even Mrs. Ames the Avon lady seemed particularly charming this evening.  I quickly made my way across the room when I saw Andrea's big anticipating smile by the china press in the corner.  We'd been taught that mannerly young ladies did not clump to themselves at social events, but we took a moment for giddy giggles about the dance and the fact that Mr. Moye wore the red plaid pants again this year.

After a few more polite interchanges, it was time to make our getaway.  Exhilaration coursed through my veins as Andrea and I trudged arm-in-arm across the backyards to my Grandmother's side portico door. 

I felt like a glamorous movie star sitting in front of Grandmother's dark cherry antique vanity.  She wouldn't know we'd poofed and powdered in this sacred prominent place.  Since early childhood, I'd been enamored with the mirrored tray that showcased rich red lipstick, an elegant compact and the most alluring bottle of perfume I'd ever seen.  Womanhood beckoned me into the aura of the feminine mystique.  I dare not try the lipstick, it might make me look eager, like the older girls who would end up in back seats before night's end.

But I could not resist the pull to the perfume... Acqua Di Parma.  Whatever it means, it sounded divine and smelled even better.  I sprayed the fine mist just ahead of me and sauntered through it.  Just a subtle suggestion that I wouldn't be fifteen forever.  Perfect!

Taffeta cocktail dressed in a pile behind us, we headed off to the hop in our best fitting jeans.

Through a maze of social greetings vastly different than the Christmas party, I eventually found my way to his extended hand.  Not in front of him, thumb up like an invitation to shake hands.  But lower and to the side, thumb down, palm back, as if to say 'come with me'.  I caught my breath at the sight of him.  Black hair so dark it was almost midnight blue, his eyes sparkled from beneath the longest eyelashes I'd ever seen.  Then I was in his arms on the dance floor.  The world around us faded into a haze and there was only the soft cotton of his t-shirt that occasionally brushed my cheek.  My jittery right hand detected a definite rippling contour along his shoulder that told of strength and vigor.  I'd heard the word ecstasy once in a movie and I wasn't sure exactly what it meant, but I thought this must be it.

The only words that passed between us that night were whispered toward my ear just before the slow song ended and I was whisked off to the bathroom with the girls to squeal, he said,

"You smell really nice."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Letting

How many of us are there?
God only knows
Those of us whose souls
bludgeon us from within
until released by the pen
in the form of words on the written page.

Perhaps some, like me, have tried to stop the flow
causing a glut, an intense pounding pressure
which grows into a sickness of the mind.
We suffer until we let it
flow forth again after many dark days.

The dark days, however,
produce a richness, a depth of expression
of which sanity is not capable.
We wonder, is it really worth it?
Do we even have a choice?
Perhaps some of us learn
the slightest shadow
signals the need for a letting.

Oh, the fortunate ones!
The ones whose words assemble as a coherent story,
a twisted mystery, a tale of love or adventure
tickling the ears of agents, publishers, consumers
relieving the creator of the daily grind
so that there is only the letting.
The letting becomes living.
It becomes a vocation, a craft, a commodity.

Some say that they are as disturbed
as those of us who continue
the toil of our days
while still the pressure of letting remains relentless.
Their words pursue them as fiercely
their stories rise to life within them
their inner voice gaping, exposed and vulnerable.
Be that as it may,
I'd still like to try.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Letter to a lost friend

You said you were capable of it.  I didn't hear, because I didn't want to hear. 

I only knew a friendship that was reconstituting a part of me long since dried up.  I had a reliable confidante next door.  We shared keys and secrets.  From the beginning, it was easy to talk to you, to let my guard down.  I didn't have to do the suburban mom cover-up smile.  Even if I tried it, you would see right through.  With humor and keen insight, you would pin me down.  I loved being known so well. 

And I knew you, or so I thought.  I guess we only know a person as much as that person allows.  Maybe your cover-up smile was there all along.  So, who are you?  Who is this person who knows my deepest thoughts?  Who were you when you came to my bathroom and helped me stop crying long enough to put on my makeup so I could go to work? 

You said that you were capable of running so far into your work that all else would disappear.  No wonder you struggled so long with the decision to return to work.  We both agreed it was a defense mechanism.  Ever the optimist, I said it didn't have to be that way.  You could work and keep it in perspective.  I didn't consider that I would be one of the disappearing items.  I didn't consider that you like getting lost. 

I have always understood why you do the things you do.  When it makes sense to no one else, it makes sense to me.  You have a right to privacy after enduring such violent invasion.  You have a right to control and independance after being subject to a ruthless ruler for so many years.  I defended you when others looked down on you.  Because I get it. 

I just didn't know how fragile and precious our connection was.  I didn't know you would suddenly and drastically change.  After years of supporting each other through high and low seasons, after tremendous laughs and tumultuous tears, after thousands of rapid text messages, abrupt silence.

Now I can't come home without wondering what is going on with you, with us.  I can't step out on my deck without a pang of regret that we don't sit out back any more and share a drink and a sunset.  Anger grows larger than sadness that it all turned out this way.

The worst part is that you think I can be dismissed so easily.  I know you well enough to know that there is more to the story than "busy and depressed".  That certainly never stopped us before.  I am sick of guesswork, of wondering what I must have done wrong.  I'm tired of reaching out and getting a pitiful patronizing pat on the head.

The only thing I can apologise for right now is wishing that your house would sell.