Once again I find myself in a swoon over someone else’s inappropriate behavior.
This time it involves an article of clothing…a sweet, little gray down jacket I gave to a friend. Well, she’s since been demoted to a demented dowager dingbat who lives ten blocks from me, but that’s getting ahead of my story.
I use the term dowager strictly for the alliteration, because who can resist one (right Kate?) and even though she acts as if she has a title…so, so entitled, she does not.
She’s a woman in her early seventies I work with occasionally. A real elderly beauty…former ballet dancer with that built-in grace that even now, tainted with bits of rheumatism, can be seen as she glides across a crowded room. Bones of course help too. Even if things appear to be falling they seem to catch you and your face, like a fly ball.
We shall go back a year.
We were working on a Citibank commercial early one morning mid fall. We had to get what was needed before Manhattan got under way. There was a company move to New Jersey…I was not chosen to go, but Thumbalina, I’ll call her, was. She was very anxious about the weather feeling she hadn’t dressed warmly enough. It would be surely colder across the Hudson, she tells me, so I of course gallop to the warm-clothes rescue.
I pull my brand new Brooks Brothers jacket from my bottomless tote and offer it to her. I say, take it…I’ll pick it up from you when the day’s over.
Cut to later that afternoon.
RING RING RING.
Joan of Arc there’s a phone call for you.
“Oh hi…just wanted to thank you so much for lending me the jacket. I am so in love with it. It’s warm, it’s chic. It looks so great on me Susannah. I so wish it were mine.”
“Oh, I’m so glad it all worked out. Really my pleasure. It warms me so to help, and you know what THUMB, I want you to have it since you love it so much. I mean, it would please me to no end to give it to you.”
See, this is where someone needed to come throw a bucket of water on me…to quell my insane tendency to go overboard giving wise. I had already helped her…kept her from freezing..lowered her anxiety level. Why could that not be enough?
All moot…but you get the idea.
Now it’s one year later. I haven’t seen her since. We meet once again on, guess what? Another bank commercial. She sees me and starts waving… swooning over like an old swan. “Susannah, “she says curtly, “That jacket you left with me really needs to be picked up (now it’s left with her like an abandoned shopping bag). Do you think you can come get it?”
“But I gave it to you,” I said, when I came to, “you said you loved it.”
“Oh, impossible. It’s much too small on me, especially across the bust line (now I thought she said bus line, because she has no bust line…she’s built like a twig). I’d really appreciate it if you would pick it up.”
I was a little taken aback by this, but said nothing. I’ve learned not to pick up the rope, as they suggest in 12 Step, especially before 7 am.
A couple weeks go by and I think, you know that jacket is very warm. I’m just going to go get it. So I email her to say, I’ll drop by receiving this grond response...”Eo, I’m aut this mor-ning but bock ot twooo if you’d lak tu drop by the-nnn.”
Suddenly Lady Astor has invaded my email connections. I love the manufactured grandiosity…it’s so lifelike.
“By the way,” I nicely say, “since you’ve had it a year…could you check to see if it needs cleaning (hint hint)? and if so, drop it off someplace convenient and I’ll get it there.”
She shoots back. “Never worn..therefore no cleaning required.”
This is when Connecticut reared her appalled head. You’ve had this jacket for a whole year. And I know you’ve worn it at least the day of that shoot and at least one day after, BECAUSE I SAW YOU IN IT…you mean to tell me, you addled, cheap, crazy, crumbling ballerina that you’re returning it not dry-cleaned?
That’s when my mother flew in the window with a shotgun in her hand.
Of course Connecticut also kept me from saying any of this, but I was fit to be tied as they say at Polo in their chaps and all of your saddle needs department.
I email my friend Ed foaming at the mouth regaling the story with fresh fury and tremors who writes back…”You know what Clemenza said in The Godfather, right? Take the jacket, leave the cannoli.”
So I bolster myself, disarm my mother and walk the ten blocks to her house. She answers like Loretta Young in a moth eaten caftan. She expects me to stay for a visit. “I’ve made teah.” I, on the other hand, who was so afraid I’d slap her, left so fast I made wind.
Epilogue…I deleted her from my contacts and tore her name from my address book.
I then took my sweet little jacket, so happy to see me, and marched it over to Mayfair Cleaners for a nice wash and set.
It’s now hanging in my closet all fresh and fluffed without one cannoli in its midst.
The next time I encounter someone who’s bones are hanging by a nippy thread, I will just smile and say…”Nice weather we’re having for this time of year.”