Thoughts on becoming Lucille Ball: mid-transformation.
The Ritz, Paris
March 6, 2011
1:30 in the afternoon
Lunch, Bar Vendome
“Madame, may I offer you a paper?” Those are the words I often hear in France, polite deference to my dining alone. In London, I am fawned over, informed that the manager and his assistant will take turns joining the lovely lady while she dines, “Impossible that you dine alone!” Chivalry is alive and well in the British Empire. The list of reactions (delight, concern, respect) continue in the many places I travel. It is in my homeland, the United States of America, that the reaction differs. At home it is at best neutral, at worst hostile.
To describe myself, I am middle-aged, though with time served as a beneficiary of Title IX and unlimited funds to throw at it, I look age-appropriate and fantastic. I am youthful, attractive, well-read, well-versed and well-dressed. No eye-rolling please. I, like every other American woman, mother, wife and citizen, have my challenges. Until we walk in another’s shoes …
Maybe, it is this neglect of women “of a certain age” in America that has sent me fleeing, traveling and dining out in other countries? Or is it merely the thrill of dressing, dining and stepping out of one’s comfort zone? The French, British and, of course, the Spanish have never failed me – always the gift of an appreciative look, compliment or glamorous appraisal, a frozen moment in time to deposit in my emotional bank for a rainy day. I am nothing if not American. I know that day will come. Viva la France, and hail to the Queen!