I used to enjoy going to Story Salon and sitting quietly in the back sipping a cup of coffee or a nibbling on a stale cookie. I liked hiding in the shadows and not being recognized or acknowledged, just waiting my turn nervously to be next to tell a story.
Then I had to open my big mouth and invite Frances Peach, a veteran story-teller at the Salon, to join the North Hollywood Y, where she has experienced pain and frustration and takes it all out on me with her embarrassing compliments about my athletic prowess and appearance in a bathing suit.
Of course, I look svelte and well-coordinated when compared to the very stout lady waddling in front of me pushing a walker and barely able to lower herself into the pool.
Frances has also been a loyal supporter and promoter of my book so how could I refuse an invitation to the North Hollywood Women’s Club Annual Luncheon where she would be modeling for the fashion show? Frances’ last runway experience was forty years ago in Paris, when she modeled professionally, wore a very small size and had no problem walking without a cane.
My first mistake was wearing what used to be a fashionable black business suit to a Hawaiian themed event. Everyone wore Hawaiian shirts, leis and mumus. I was over dressed. The second mistake was getting there early, before ten. I didn’t leave until after three. That gave me enough time to buy ten raffles and bid on two wine bottles in the silent auction.
A dance band of the sixties played loud music so I really couldn’t talk to Frances’ other interesting friends who were at the table. We shouted and drank coffee. They were very interesting ladies who wanted copies of my book, which I thought Frances had given to the entire membership.
We waited anxiously when our girlfriend left the table to get ready for the fashion show. We waited and waited and waited.
Two or three cups of coffee later, the band finally stopped and the owner of the dress shop, My Fair Lady, a man who looked more like an accountant than a fashion show host, came out to introduce the models. Frances dazzled us in a red jacket and palazzo pants and her trademark jewelry. Yes, she made the cane look like a smart accessory that everyone should own. No one looked at her problem feet or orthopedic shoes, only the aura of glamour that still persists.
We sat through an hour of middle-aged and senior models parading before us in very attractive and almost affordable outfits. We had to wait for the grand finale when our friend reappeared in a stunning sheer black and gold jacket perfect for a very dressy affair or an appearance at Story Salon. Frances can still enjoy the privilege of beauty and is ageless.
We applauded and were sure lunch was about to be served, but no, it wasn’t. We had to sit through the Polynesian dancers dressed in their skimpy costumes and coconut shell bra cups, making us want to avoid desserts for the rest of our lives. They begged for volunteers to come up and make fools of themselves, but no luck. I wasn’t going to do the hula in my black pants suit.
The raffles came after that. I won a picture frame. Then I couldn’t leave without buying the same jacket Frances modeled. Way more than I ever spend, but it 50% off the regular price and my dear, darling ex friend said I looked smashing in it.
I had to get to the Y every day that week to work off the rich dessert placed in front of me at the North Hollywood Women’s Annual Luncheon, where my friend, Frances, was the featured run-way model and made us all eager to get a cane to match our earrings and proved again that her kind of glamour doesn’t fade.