I was a guest, playing a tennis match in 48-degree temperatures with wind whistling off nearby water. I had layered a tee shirt, long sleeve sweatshirt, and quilted vest with a pair of white leggings and my tennis skirt.
One of my opponents with auburn locks tied up under her baseball cap and a glistening smile (right out of an ad for brightening strips) had bare legs. They were waxed and bronzed and very shapely. In fact, her entire physique reminded me of Sofia Vergara from T.V.'s "Modern Family." She even had the same accent from her native Columbia. I seriously doubted she'd reached her forty-fifth birthday and wondered why she hadn't appeared in just a sports bra and tennis skirt.
As an uber-hostess, Isabella conversed after the match (won by the old fogies in their multi-layers!) and escorted us to lunch. She mentioned that her tennis partner (our other opponent) was from Maine and New York City and Washington, D.C. (was that all?), and "Oh, yes, she's a concert pianist."
"Well, I can relate to the Maine part," I said. "My husband and I both went to Colby."
"You did? My husband went to Colby," Isabella said.
"I really don't know. It was before my time! John and I met ten years ago, after his divorce. I was his dental hygienist (explaining the pearly whites!). I'll call him to find out."
(On her cell phone) "Honey, what year did you graduate Colby? 1963?"
"That's the year my husband graduated! What's your husband's name?" I asked.
"Honey, I played tennis against a lady who went to Colby and her husband graduated in your class. Here, Pam, his name is John Marks" (fictitious). She handed me the phone.
"Hello, John? This is Pam Carey, married to Charley Carey who graduated from Colby with you."
"Oh my God! Of course I remember Charley! He was in Lambda Chi, right?"
"I was in DKE. Where do you live?"
"About twenty minutes from the tennis courts. I'll give your wife our information and maybe we can get together."
Around five o'clock Charley answered the phone. "John, what a small world! Pam told me about the coincidence. What have you been doing?"
After supplying answers regarding the law and real estate development, John wanted to know if we could meet for dinner that evening.
Right away I knew I was in trouble! What to wear to dinner at a restaurant in Palm Beach among the rich and famous in the company of a gorgeous forty-something?
I piled several dresses on the bed and eliminated them all. They either made me look like I belonged in a skilled nursing facility or they didn't have the appropriate heels or accessories. I tried to imagine what Isabella would be wearing, but that just got me depressed. Finally I chose black slacks, heeled sandals, and a leopard-skin cloth jacket. The jacket was retro and funky and the closest thing I had to being "hip." Besides, it would keep me warm in the "cold wave" that swept Florida with the polar vortex!
Following John's directions, we drove north along the ocean and then crossed an intracoastal bridge. We followed the intracoastal waterway for a few blocks north. At the appropriate number, we turned in.
Arched iron gates entwined with vines blocked our entry. We announced ourselves at the intercom and the gates swung open.
The brick driveway brought us to a parking area in front of the house. To the right were four garage stalls. A three-story mini-mansion sprawled ahead of us. In back lay the intracoastal.
Isabella and John appeared on the brick semi-circular steps in front of the house. Isabella was waving, while John showed Charley where to park his Honda Fit. John didn't have to do that, since Charley had already wedged his mini-car into an opening between the trash cans and a space labelled, "Valentina."
I wondered who "Valentina" was, but got out to receive air kisses from Isabella and a hug from John. We followed them inside for a tour.
In the light of the two-story foyer (with curving iron staircase to match the gates), I noticed Isabella's outfit and tried to stifle my chuckles.
She had on black slacks...but they were leather.
She had on black heels...but they were six-inch Manolo Blahniks.
She had on a fur vest...but it was real fur.
A belt cinched her tiny waist. I was glad I hadn't added that accessory, since it would have made me look like a leopard trying to escape from a sack! Onto a chair Isabella threw a clutch with interlocking "C's."
"Is everything OK?" she said, reacting to my interior monologue.
"Oh yes, your home is magnificent!"
After the tour we headed to the restaurant in their Mercedes. "This is one of our regular places," Isabella said. "We know the owner and can always get a table. The menu is small portions of tapas." No wonder she looked like Sofia Vergara!
John handed his keys to the valet and we made our way to the door. Two women in full-length sleeveless sheaths with V's cut to their navels (they weren't cold!) passed us going in. "They must have been at one of the charity balls," Isabella said.
Unfortunately, there were no tables available and there was a waiting list. "No worries, we can sit at the communal table," Isabella said. We followed her to a high-top for twelve. Charley and John sat at the end. We'd lost them for the night. Isabella and I sat together at a right angle to them.
"I can suggest the flat bread pizza and the salads," she said, as two more women joined our table on the opposite side..
Our uber-hostess introduced herself and I did the same. The place was so packed I couldn't catch their names...or maybe it was time to get my hearing tested! Isabella sat closest to them and carried on a lively conversation. I got hoarse from yelling. I drank my wine, eavesdropped on Charley and John, and finished my hamburger. I didn't dare eat the buns, which lay on the side of my plate.
Back in their driveway afterward, Charley and I thanked the couple and approached our Honda. A large figure came toward us from the darkness of the driveway. The gates were closing behind.
"Who are you??" I yelled, concerned.
"Oh, that's Valentina," Isabella said. "She works for us. Her apartment is over the garage."
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.