Girl Talk

Will You Marry Me?

Last September, I wrote about Jaimie and Nick.  While I haven’t yet solved their romantic mystery, I do have an update.  But first you need to read the original post:

My neighborhood is lined with cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks.  As you might imagine, the old chipped bricks make for an uneven walking surface.  And over the years, I’ve ruined more than one pair of high heels.  So I’ve learned to watch where I step.

Back in July (2016), I noticed that an old brick had been replaced with a brand new one with clean, sharp edges, and a perfectly etched message that read:  JAIMIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME?  NICK

I’m not sure how long the brick had been in place when it caught my eye.  But each day as I walk by, I feel compelled to check and see if the brick is still there.  It’s become a wildly romantic mystery to me as I spin all sorts of stories about how the brick came to be in this spot, as well as my speculations about this couple – Jaimie and Nick.  Do I know them by sight?  Maybe they live right across the street from me.  Is Jaimie a woman or a man?  Have they gotten married?

So many questions remain unanswered.  Why did Nick choose to propose in this way?  How exactly did he plan his grand gesture?  And what happened when Jaimie spotted the brick?  If Jaimie accepted the proposal, wouldn’t they have dug up the brick as a memento?  Likewise, if Jaimie rejected the proposal, wouldn’t Nick have dug it up and gotten rid of what would’ve become a painful reminder?  Either way, why does the brick remain?

Update: One morning, as my downstairs neighbor and I left for work at the same time, we walked together down Dartmouth Street.  When I pointed out the brick and confessed that I was intrigued by it, she told me that her husband had witnessed the proposal.

“Tell me everything!” I pleaded.

Jaimie is a young woman, and Nick a young man, she confirmed.  Whether Jaimie saw the brick at first or not remains to be seen.  But when Nick got down on one knee in the traditional pose, my neighbor, right along with Jaimie, realized what was about to happen.  My neighbor didn’t want to impose on such a personal and meaningful moment so he quickly turned the corner and got out of sight.

“That’s it?  That’s all you know!” I persisted.

“My husband assumed she said yes,” she replied.

More than ever, I believe Jaimie and Nick are together and living happily ever after.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers, Pop Culture

Red Hat Lady for a Day

Have you ever seen a group of women all wearing red hats, and flamboyantly dressed in purple?  These older ladies can be seen lunching and laughing, and generally whooping it up all around town.  Some of them even wear feather boas… Truth be told, my mother is one of them and, on a recent visit home, I crashed the party.  But I did not wear the requisite purple, nor the red hat.   According to Red Hat Society lore, someone my age wears lavender and pink instead.

The Red Hat Society was founded quite by accident by a woman who bought a stylish red hat for herself, then started giving them as gifts to her friends.  The purple attire came about as an homage to the poem that begins, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…”  Now, there are a bazillion chapters all over the country.

On the first Wednesday of every month, when my mother and her friends get together adorned in their whimsical outfits, they remain mindful that everyone is not as carefree and blessed as they are.  That’s why they never fail to pass around an envelope for their donation to a food pantry.

I was expecting lunch to be a quiet affair in a subdued café.  Instead, it was a raucous celebration in a sports bar with Bon Jovi and Led Zep piped through the loud speakers.  The ladies talked about hair and makeup, current events, and their families, just like my friends do when we get together.  And I nearly forgot how much older they were until the talk turned from gardening, to their former careers, and to their numerous doctor appointments.  Save for the arthritis, they were mostly just like their younger counterparts.

So thank you Red Hatters for welcoming me into your circle, and for offering me a window into what lies ahead.  It promises to be fun and fabulous!

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Italian Sisters

Ya know, I’ve known you for more than half my life,” my friend mused as we were enjoying a long-overdue girls’ night out recently.

I get a kick out of how she eats with such gusto.  She marvels at my talent for knowing exactly what shoes to wear with any given outfit.  When we shop there’s no dilly-dallying.  We see something we like, there’s no waffling, we just buy it.  The compliments are abundant and genuine.  I comment on her new eye shadow and she notices my new earrings.

We share the same story:  The only daughter in an Italian-American family.  Exceptionally close to our mothers.  New Yorkers who came to Boston for college – and stayed.  We are modern women yet we celebrate, even revere, tradition.  We’re scratch cooks who constantly swap recipes.  We know how to set a nice table.  We send hand-written thank you notes.

When we talk, our conversations are peppered with Italian words and phrases:  mia cucina (my kitchen); la familia (the family); and ciao bella (so long beautiful).  And the slang, of course: scoochi (pest); jaboney (jerk); and capisce (understand).

Our lives have taken us in different directions.  She’s married with two little girls while I’m the single one.  She’s the teacher and I’m a writer.  We’ve grown but we have not grown apart.  We remain each other’s confidant and sounding board.  One year for my birthday she gave me a Willow Tree figurine of two young girls sitting on a bench, seemingly deep in conversation.  It was the perfect gift.

“We’ve been friends for a long time,” I agreed.  “We’re like sisters.  Italian sisters.”

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Girl Talk

Glam on the Go

If you’re like me, you automatically reach into your purse for your lipstick at the end of the meal.  Applying lipstick in a restaurant is commonplace enough that it often goes unnoticed.  Besides, it doesn’t take any special skill to swipe some color over your lips, even if you don’t have a mirror.

A friend of mine applies her full make-up regalia during her morning commute.  Using her rearview mirror, she performs this act in perfect synchronization with the stop lights along the way.  She can dab on concealer, bronzer, and lip gloss, not to mention perk up her eyes with mascara and eyeliner, all with a steady hand.  By the time she’s reached her office, her face is painted to flawless perfection.  It’s a talent for sure, and one that I couldn’t hope to imitate.  Besides, I don’t drive to work.

I commute using public transportation and the jostling that takes place on the subway or bus, not to mention the other passengers pressed up against you like sardines, and the students who whip around and whack you with their backpacks, all render the application of make-up impossible – or so I thought until the other day.

A woman sitting across from me reached into her tote bag and took out a false eyelash.  It looked like a big bushy caterpillar.  Using the tips of her fingernails as a substitute tweezer, she methodically picked off every bit of caked-on glue from the base of the eyelash.  Next, she took out a tiny tube of glue and strategically applied three dots.  When the glue was dry – remember, this was a moving train – she pressed the eyelash onto her lid.  She then repeated the process for the other eye.  I could not believe MY EYES!  Wish I could’ve stuck around to see what she’d do next, but we had reached my stop.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Don’t Bug Me

Sunday morning, I wake up with the spins.  Instead of going to church, I kneel on the cold bathroom floor praying to the porcelain goddess.  Hazy and dizzy, I crawl back to bed.  This is some bug I’ve got.

On Monday, I swear I’ll never eat again.  But, fearing dehydration, I force myself to drink watered-down juice.  I sleep a lot, awaken drenched with sweat.  The relentlessly-ringing phone saves me from delirium.  Robo-calls alternately congratulate me – I’ve won a 5-day stay at a Florida resort – or warn me there’s a warrant out for my arrest.  And my mother, keeping a long-distance vigil over my weak, limp body, wants an hourly update on my fever – which has climbed from 101.5 to 102.7.

It’s Tuesday and I haven’t showered for two days so I look and feel disgusting.  After a long, hot shower, I still look and feel disgusting but at least I’m clean when I go to the doctor.

She shakes her head.  “You’ve got the flu, all right.  You’ve got it good.”

“But I got a flu shot,” I whine.

She hands me a prescription for Tamiflu.  “Take it with food,” she warns. “It’ll mess with your stomach.”

Wednesday, toast and Jell-O are my only friends.  I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.  The silver lining?  Surely I’ve lost a couple of pounds.  Unable to sleep, I binge watch several TV shows I’m too embarrassed to name.

By Thursday, the medication’s done a number on my stomach.  I must be down four or five pounds.  I drink flat Pepsi and eat graham crackers.  Just not at the same time.  Bored with television, I answer work email.

Come Friday, I’m out of clean sheets, towels, and PJ’s so I muster the energy to go down the basement and do some laundry.  It’s enough to wipe me out; I take to the love seat, wrapped in a fleece blanket, and moan, in between sips of soup.

Sometime over the weekend, I manage scrambled eggs for breakfast, and broiled chicken with soupy mashed potatoes for dinner.  The worst is finally over.

Monday morning, it’s time to rejoin the world, go back to work.  I step on the scale, anticipating my dramatic weight loss.  No!  It can’t be!  The scale has not budged.

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Girl Talk

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

spring-slidesLast week’s “February thaw” had me checking out the spring forecast – the spring fashion forecast, that is.  Seems THE shoe for spring is a peep toe slide with a block heel.  After living in boots for the past five months, I can hardly wait to slip into a pair of these babies.  But first I’ll need to get my feet back into shape.

Whether you schedule regular pedis at the salon, or are more of a DIY girl, you probably don’t pay the same attention to your feet in winter that you do during beach season.  While I generally polish my toe nails during the winter, how good can they look when I’m forced to keep them clipped uber-short because of the aforementioned boots?  And even though I smother my tootsies in lotion, then wrap them in spa socks in an attempt to ward off alligator skin, my feet are not suitable for public viewing at the moment.

Gotta get to work – heel and toes, heels and toes – my own version of spring training.  So I’ve stopped cutting my toe nails.  In a few weeks I’ll begin shaping them with an emery board, and by Easter they’ll be the perfect length for peep toes and strappy sandals.  There are plenty of gadgets for getting rid of unsightly calluses, and most of them work pretty well.  And finally two words: Epsom Salt.  Dissolve a half-cup of this magnesium-rich stuff in a basin of hot water, and a ten minute soak a few times a week will do wonders for your feet.

Now it’s time to go shoe shopping!red poppy

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers

A Red Swing Coat

She stepped out of the taxi, so vibrant, so cute, in her hot pink woolen swing coat.  Her lipstick was a perfect match.  She opened her vintage black patent leather kiss lock purse to pay the driver.  Then she was on the move.  She clearly had places to go.   It was many years ago, but I still remember that older lady in the bubblegum pink swing coat, and how I thought: I want to be her someday.

Now let me preface this by saying that my mom has not yet reached the age of that older lady in the pink swing coat.  She has a way to go yet.  But during one of our recent shopping expeditions, the topic of dressing one’s age came up.

Me, I’m of the belief that looking fashionable has no age limit.  My mother, however, was concerned that the pair of dress pants she was trying on were not exactly age appropriate for her.  “Are they too trendy?” she wanted to know.

Forget that we were shopping in a store that caters to women of a certain age.

“No,” I asserted.  “They fit you like a glove – and you look great.”

She shrugged, “I don’t know…”

vintage-red-swing-coatJust then, the older lady in the pink swing coat came to mind.

“Do you like these pants?”  I asked, “Will you enjoy wearing them?” and before she could answer, I added, “Then who cares what anybody else thinks.”

I shouldn’t have had to convince her to buy the pants.  It’s a shame that we, as women, are always questioning ourselves, especially about our appearance.

As for me, I’m still planning to wear a lively swing coat someday.  But I’m not a pink girl.  So mine will be red.  And with it, I’ll wear lipstick that’s a perfect match.

red poppy

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