She had arrived late, but what else was expected? She was a woman. A beautiful woman.
It was obvious it took her a while to put this whole thing together last night, through a careful choosing of details: a negotiation of her tastes, her moods; the senses. I wondered if while getting dressed, she daydreamed of a specific man she wanted to impress, as women of my age often do. Or, if she simply entertained an overall possibility of endless love (as we, romantics, must still insist on doing).
A woman whose abandonment of vanity would probably mean the very death of her, she was better dressed for an audience at a polo match, also attended by The Royal Family, than a staged reading at a black box theatre. First: There was the white hat adorned with a satin ribbon and a silver rhinestone brooch. And immediately, last night, the brooch got caught in the stage lights, and it began going berserk with rainbow reflections. So did the giant ring that took over two of her fingers on the dainty left hand.
“Holy shit!” I thought. “Is this broad decked out in diamonds?! Damn.”
The hat alone was enough to demand the attention of the audience. But the coat of the same egg-foam color was a thing of beauty. Most likely custom-made from cashmere, it could send the mind into a nostalgic trip through the old days — the days of women like Audrey, Jackie and Liz — to the era when things like that were extremely important: The details.
Gingerly, as if trying to not attract any attention, she slipped passed the front row of the auditorium and took a seat. But whom was she kidding? She was impossible not to notice! For it was obvious, that it took a long while to put this whole thing together last night — through a careful choosing of details. And I suddenly caught myself wanting to be nearer her, just to learn the aroma of her perfume, to figure out her story.
She had to walk slowly: By now, the broad was most likely in the seventh decade of her life. Be it her slow pace, her ability to be the center of attention, or her esteem, I was sure none of us let her slip by unnoticed. The hat remained on her head for the rest of the night, radiating with rainbow rays from its brooch. And for the next hour, I continued stealing glances at her.
Under the coat, she wore… a sweat suit. (I know!)
But then again, it wasn’t one of those mass-made, one-size-fits-all fleece numbers with rubber bands around its ankles. No, this thing was fluffy and pink. It had a strange resonance to the days of the young Britney Spears: Something a woman of my age would purchase from a Victoria’s Secret. Although a definite mismatch to her outer ensemble, the suit was well fitted to her small frame. Even this, I bet, was chosen carefully, last night.
A pair of white nursing shoes wrapped the picture, and I bet it was a small tragedy for this woman — this beautiful woman — to obey the mandatory change in her footwear. Because by now, the broad was most likely in the seventh decade of her life; and it was a choice between vanity and a broken hip. Yet still, these shoes — were immaculate: A carefully chosen detail.
The detail of her stubborn warring against time — against her aging.
The details of beauty and class, resonant of the old times when such details were very important.
After the show, I lost sight of her, last night. In the ladies’ room, I examined my own reflection: My fitted black sweater dress had been chosen quickly that evening. I was running late, so I yanked the first thing that didn’t need ironing off the hanger. But how could I not have seen the gazillion bits of lint all over its front panel? My hair hadn’t been brushed since the morning: Was I going for the nonchalant tousled look? It wasn’t working. (My shoes though: My shoes were perfect.)
Inside the stall I chose, it smelled like rose water and pepper. Not bad.
“Is there any toilet paper?” a tiny voice came through the wall of the partition.
I looked at shoes of the woman in the stall: They were the pair of white nursing shoes, immaculately chosen. I froze: Was that a rhetorical question? Or did she need help?
I knew: Dignity — was the very life of her; perhaps, all that was left of it. Through carefully chosen details — like this pepper-flowery perfume — she tended to her beauty, to defeat time. To defeat her aging. But the child-like helplessness set in, regardless her effort. And so, I stumbled, not knowing how to give her a hand without any charity; without offending her dignity.
The tiny voice came back in a few minutes:
“Could you spare me some toilet paper?”
“Sure, sure, sure!” I rummaged around my stall.
I handed her a wad of paper over the partition.
“There are actually some rolls on your window sill,” I said, noticing the line-up above the egg-foam colored hat, with a brooch still going berserk with rainbow reflections under the bathroom light.
“I’ll take this,” the tiny voice said, and I felt the giant ring on her dainty left hand brush against my thumb.
“Yep! Definitely, diamonds!” I thought. “Damn.”