Hello Bemelmans…how I’ve missed you.
Let me say, if you’re going to break your sobriety, do it at a good hotel. I called my friend Camille I haven’t spoken to after fighting over something I can’t even recall, who was delighted to hear from me, agreeing to meet at our favorite place.
I was there first of course, in my little paper dress. Well, they say it’s cotton but after one cleaning, you’ll have disposable napkins for your next cocktail party.
What do you want for 39.95, a cheese platter to go with it?
Camille, famously late, swung in making an entrance for me and the barmaid since, no one but one lone fat man sitting at the bar who reminded me of Big Daddy, was there, who didn’t seem to notice.
Hey, it’s always good practice to walk in like you came by Learjet.
After air kissing and an unexpected hug, I remembered why we had a fight. At 65 she was getting breast implants. Ouch, as they practically punctured my own chest like merry missiles.
Despite this alteration that makes her resemble an action figure, she looked the same. Her hair blazing red, like you could cook meat on it, nails the length of Long Island, and that eternal grin that could easily melt the ice in your glass.
Even Big Daddy finally looked up from his Dewas and wata’ to stare.
“So, honeybun, you’re looking youthful. Where did ya get that cute, little dress?”
I tell a half truth and say, “J. Crew, but on Madison.”
“Hmm,” she says, sniffing like a bloodhound in Versace, “I remember it from three seasons ago. Did they make it again?”
It was then I ordered my Pimm’s Cup with extra mint. It was created by an English bar owner named James Pimms in the 18th century, made with gin and fruit juice.
Think Hawaian Punch with a kick. After adding Ginger Ale, oranges, lemons, mint and a cucumber, you have what’s called, a Pimm’s Cup, a delightful summer drink that doesn’t make you see double, unless of course you have 12, and at Bemelmans, that would put a girl quite over her Visa limit.
“You’re very thin,” said Camille, while examining me like I was for sale. “Have a chip, why don’t you?”
Like that would do it, but it alerted me she was still mad. Uh-oh, those missiles just might launch if I’m not careful.
Luckily for me, two attractive men waltzed in stealing her attention.
Camille does this thing with her shoulders that’s half Rita Hayworth and half Zuma I so wish I could master, luring these men over like counts at court.
She was old enough to be their, well, big sister, but didn’t care, and neither did they leaning on the bar, one on either side of her.
“Um, excuse me,” I said to one, “I’m with her, so if you stand there, I can’t really be included.” He looked stumped like I just asked him a Jeopardy question.
Bob and Mike were lawyers from Houston, here on some big case clearly looking for female companionship. We were a little old, I’m sorry, I’ll say it, but no one else was currently available.
Like you went shopping for dinner, and all they had left were two, practically expired, pork chops.
Camille, whose ego would rival Elizabeth Taylor’s dead or alive, was undeterred.
At one point she turned to me and mouthed the words…expense account.
Well, not a bad thing being at the Cartier of bars, and she was drinking double Stoli Gimlets after all.
I excused myself to make a phone call, when returning, finding her alone.
“What happened, where’s Pat and Mike?”
“Bob, his name was Bob,” Camille said flatly. “He got a phone call so off they went, and didn’t even pick up our check.”
“They were a little clueless and dull, if you know what I mean.”
“Well their money wasn’t, since they weren’t paying for anything anyway.”
“Have a chip, why don’t you?”
If looks could kill, I’d be in Jersey.
“You’re taking this age business, and on your birthday no less, awfully well. Why is that Susannah? Your chin is falling, you have bags like an owl, what’s your secret?”
Oh dear. Should I slap her, or just get drunk?
For old times sake, I said, “I appreciate you pointing out my imperfections so candidly Camille, but you know what’s dawned on me? I’ve earned my face, every line, nook and cranny, and yes, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered by getting older, but then remember what a great life I’ve had. Both of us. We were models. We traveled. We met movie stars and got to keep all our designer clothes. How lucky were we?”
Just then Big Daddy who I totally forgot about, leaned over and said, “Hey, I’m no Clark Gable, but I’d be happa to buy you two beautiful women dina’ on your birthday, right here at the Car-ly’-al.”
Where did all these people come from? Suddenly the place was packed.
“Well, how nice is that?” I said, my Connecticut kicking in. “I think we’d like that, whaddya say girlfriend?”
Camille, after taking out her Chanel compact to apply a little gloss and fluff her flamming flip that had gone slightly south, smiled at Big Daddy and said, “Why, we’d love to.”
“Put their drinks on my room tab hona, ” said Daddy to Laurie the barmaid, as he escorted us, all two-hundred pounds of him, to the dining room.
This was long, but hey…it’s my birthday.