Faux Pas

Today Hubs and I went to a memorial of a good friend of ours, Xxxx xxxx, at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. There were almost no places to park, which I thought nothing of, as my friend had worked for many years in development at an exclusive private school. I’d stopped at home to change from dog sitting clothing to a nice blue and white outfit in a large size. skirt and brand new navy blue shirt from ATL, plus navy and white flats. I also wore my summer hat, a straw number with an attached navy blue ribbon. I’ve taken to wearing this hat a lot lately, as it can hide a number of bad hair days, or give me the appearance of being organised, which I often am not. Hubs has lost about 30 pounds of my gained weight, and looked even more slender in his sharp black suit.

At the church, there sat a super long limo, and a hearse, of course. So we walked in and both of us got programs. We sat close to the front, and after seeing no one I knew, I decided to read the program. On the cover, in large print, was “Virginia Xxxx”. Didn’t make sense. I wiggled the program at Hubs, and after putting on his reading glasses, he whispered, “maybe she went by another name?” Another name? What, did he think she worked in espionage? Try this, instead. Not wrong name, but WRONG FUNERAL As we departed, the mortician said, “Happens all the time. You’d be surprised.”

Out in the parking lot, Hubs pulled up the obituary on his phone, and it stated, merely “please join us for a celebration of her life at 11 a.m. Wednesday. ” Well, the obituary was in the paper last Wednesday, and who in the world would be able to attend a funeral without prior planning? So Hubs and I took that to mean the celebration of her life would be the following Wednesday, July 12.

Anyway, we went to Cross Keys for lunch in their nice new deli, and then Hubs wanted me to visit Talbot’s. I didn’t really want to because of my weight gain. I haven’t yet been able to keep said weight off (no resolve), despite trying the Keto diet twice. You see, it’s my birthday on the 15th, and Hubs once again, had not gotten around to buying me a gift. Even though back in May, I’d asked for 2 polo style shirts from LL Bean. Perfect proof that he doesn’t listen when I talk. So after trying on a size 12 in a sheath dress and not being able to hide my belly, he bought me a necklace. Isn’t that pitiful? I’m too fat for clothing, but a necklace fits?!!

Oh my God! When had I let myself “go?” That is a direct quote from my mother in law, now deceased, who regarded my ever changing figure with disdain. She, of course, was a size 2, sometimes a 3, and never really dieted once in her life. Nor, other than walking across the street to the Gulf of Mexico from her Floridian house, did she ever exercise, while I play tennis 3-4 days a week, and walk dogs for a living!

As if the day had not gotten off to a stellar start, it ended with a visit to my primary doctor. I shall call him Mark, so as to protect the innocent. He is a low key internist who’s afraid of germs, but can expertly diagnose you while standing in the doorway of the examining room. The reason I was seeing him was because 3 Wednesdays ago, I’d fallen on my head while playing tennis. I might note here that almost all of my injuries have stemmed from exercising, whether merely running, or as of late, playing tennis. Falling on your head my friends asked, visualizing that, wondering did I jump in the air for a ball and land directly on my head? Exactly how did it happen? I’m sure they wondered. Well, okay, I hit my butt on my way to the floor, but it was my head that hurt. I think I blanked out between the act of falling and hitting ground, and then pain was what I remembered best. Like someone took a 2X4 to the back of my head.

I know I should have gone to a Minute Clinic that day, but once I’d applied ice to my head, I felt better. I wasn’t nauseated, bleeding, feeling dizzy, or drowsy. So I skipped a look-see with Mark for 3 weeks. But what I did experience two days after the fall was definitely signs of a concussion. Drowsiness while driving to the beach, and inability to retain my balance while in the Bay. Mark sent me for a CAT scan, but not before asking him if my arms looked swollen. Answer? “No, they are just fat.” Great. I need to embrace my total full figure.

So much for this faux pas. Not that I haven’t endured others. Like the time when I was in the Junior League, and a group of us had to be at a meeting at a certain person’s house on Roland Avenue by 6:30 p.m. We knew her house but not her address. This neighbourhood, Roland Park, is one where no two houses look alike. Some houses have porches where families gather all night long, and others are surrounded by brick walls knighted by matching finials. And, this group of us knew for sure that this house had a circular room which bowed out on the right side. Bath. The circular room was a bathroom with a ceramic floor and beautiful stained windows.

We knocked on the door, holding our potluck snacks in both hot and cold dishes. Well, actually, we knocked on the door frame, because the inner door was open. And, after about 15 minutes, in we went, calling our hosts’ name out loud. No reply. Some one, being officious, began to tidy up the coffee table which held a filled ashtray, and unfolded newspapers. Some one else got out a Hoover and vacuumed the rug. While I used the circular bathroom, for a much-needed potty break. And, as I sat on the toilet, my eyes dropped down to a pink trashcan. In it was discarded mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Peter Xxxxx.”

I flushed the toilet but ran away from the circular bathroom with lovely stained windows. Yelling, “Y’all! Listen up! We’re in the wrong house! We need to be gone yesterday!” As good Junior Leaguers, we left no mess behind, minus one Pyrex oval dish filled with Spinach balls. To this day I can’t help but wonder if the incorrect Leaguer ever noticed how clean was her living room, and had a poltergeist moved in, doing good instead of bad.









Eleanor and Jeanne

Her birth name was Eleanor, but she referred to herself as Jeanne. Two “n’s” followed by an e. She thought Eleanor old-fashioned, the kind of woman who was demurring, subservient to her husband, a mother trapped by children, cooking, baking and cleaning all day, every day. Jeanne, on the other hand, was daring, went to college, wore serious eyeglasses. and smoked cigarettes.  More than anything, Jeanne wanted to be a career girl, and never marry. Upon graduation from University of Rochester, with a major in History, Jeanne looked studious with eyeglasses, and considered the name she legally changed for herself, more dramatic, edgy and befitting a serious journalist.

Jeanne’s parents, Lillian and Ed Brennan, began the first weekly newspaper in Greenfield Hill, Fairfield County, Connecticut during the Depression. Called “The Fairfield Town Crier”, it was an instant hit in the towns of Fairfield, Westport, Southport, Norfolk, and Easton. Readers liked its content, mostly about them, and the fact that it came with pictures. As Jeanne grew, the newspaper grew too. Once she had her college degree, Jeanne was promoted to reporter and went out into the field to find stories, using her Irish gift of gab to convince people to open up during interviews. Pretty soon she was traveling out of state too. She wrote about Farmer John’s lost cow, and Leonard Bernstein’s immense musical talent. Sometimes she attended press conferences, inaugurations of presidents of the USA, or presidential funerals. Some of her stories were generated from national news, and some were “fillers” – photos of Elizabeth Taylor playing on Saugatuck beach with her entourage.

Jeanne was born with printer’s ink in her blood. She trampled through a male dominated field where a woman’s presence was laughable. She took copious notes and wrote like a pro.  She wanted to inherit the business, then sometime in the future, move on, maybe write for National Geographic. But she was ahead of her time. Her brother, Bud, was to inherit the business, even though his talent was chasing skirt, not the elusive paying ad.  Sons were regaled, not daughters. Jeanne, who did most of the legwork right up to print deadline, pined nonetheless.  Lillian,  tenacious as her daughter, wanted Jeanne married, with children.

During a family vacation in Hamilton, Bermuda, Lillian set her daughter up on a blind date. Walking the beach, Lillian had met a Royal Canadian Air Force officer on leave from the service, and found out in quick succession, his name, marital status and age. Jack Sargeant, never married, 28. Jeanne didn’t want to meet him, but once she did, it was “love at first sight.”

The only problem was that Jack couldn’t write. He tried, but Connecticut was not the place for him.  He found a good vocation in Binghamton, NY, then Maryland.  My mother, however, industrious, would stay up late at night to write, never stopping until she died. In her lifetime, she escalated from journalist to freelance writer, to porn writer, to Food Editor of “The Baltimore Sun”, to features writer for BALTIMORE Magazine, to public relations officer, and back to freelance photo journalist before cancer weakened her resolve to write.

Sometimes life stretches you in directions you never expect to go. The main thing is to remain flexible. Sometimes life ends up better than you ever thought possible. Whether your name is plain old Eleanor, or dashing journalist Jeanne, with 2 “ns” ending with an “e”.