Chicago Gal, Too walked over during lunch to laugh at the pseudonym I'd ascribed to our club. She couldn't keep the giggle out of her voice. In her inimitable midwestern twang, she told me that she couldn't stop herself, the smiles just kept coming.
That was pretty much the rule this afternoon, as The Happy Ladies Club gathered at Union Public House for a summer luncheon. The space was formerly occupied by an upscale foodie heaven; Acacia is now at the other end of Campbell. We'll be lunching there in July. Union is more pub than elegance, the food less precious and the floors rough hewn.
We were in the party room in the back, which was bright and cheery and about as noisy as a space could be. The only soft surfaces to absorb the sounds were those we carried with us on our persons.... our tanned and exposed flesh, trying our best to get through 100 degree days with dignity and an absence of sweat stains. There was a lot of wonderful jewelry; the clothes were so minimal that Chicago Gal (the original) wore her name tag on her chest... literally.... on the skin.
The menu was simple while covering all the bases - swordfish tacos, burgers with bacon jam, flatbread prosciutto pizza, salad and soup..... okay, so it's upscale pub fare. The waitresses managed to take 40 some orders and not mess up a one. Separate checks wasn't an issue, either. All we had to do was decide, eat and pay. The conversation was an extra bonus.
Loss and love and illness and hearing aids for a 33 year old crossed with Hunger Games and the Shades of Grey trilogy as we caught up on one another's lives and projects and adventures. I'm always struck by the kindness of these conversations. Strangers for the most part, we come together two or three times a year, remembering a shared movie or concert or luncheon speaker. There's no awkwardness or reticence; the club's purpose is to make friends. Knowing no one is not a social liability in this setting; in fact, it's almost an asset.
Your stories are unfamiliar to me.... please, tell me more.
No wonder everyone is smiling; it's hard to be bored when there's so much new around. I find myself either fascinated by an experience I've never imagined or amusing a neighbor with tales of G'ma's memory.... or the lack thereof.
Only at The Happy Ladies Club luncheon can I whine and laugh about G'ma's misplaced and only pair of glasses... about the phone call that sought to assign blame to me since I'd taken her out to lunch yesterday.....about the fact that this she could remember, though my name is escaping her once again.... about finding them on the pile of knee-hi-hose atop the shoe rack in her closet...the pile of worn hose which should have been transferred to the laundry basket... the laundry basket in which I thought to look for the missing spectacles.... these women listened and sympathized and commiserated and understood.
No one had dessert, our iced teas needed no further topping off, we received our checks, left cash or waited for credit cards to be swiped, and then I was in The Schnozz, tooling across River Road, reprising the stories I'd heard, the hugs I'd recieved, the love I'd shared.
Some things improve over time. The Happy Ladies Club is doing just that for me right now.