A sea of black (and orange). A pastel Easter egg bobs toward the shore, its arrival predestined, as inevitable as Sunday follows Saturday — which I wish it were because then this would be all over with.
“Did you check on the dress code?” MyHusbandTheEngineer asks.
“For a midafternoon birthday party? It’s Hang Loose Harry and Mellow Martha.”
“It’s his 50th, and he registered at the Harley Davidson store. Connect the dots.”
“I did — I went to the Harley store and bought him a shirt. A black shirt … oh.”
Then it hits me. I don’t mind looking different, but now I feel silly. So I should have changed my color coordinated pink raincoat and Coach handbag. And dressed my husband, too.
“Here – you hold my purse and coat while I write our name tags,” I say to John, who is already on his way to the bar. I’m not deluding myself that everyone’s staring at me because they admire my springy lavendar sweater and mauve Swarovski crystal earrings, but I can only shed so much clothing.
Why didn’t that lady at the Harley store clue me in?! I told her I was going to a birthday party. I mean, we even discussed women’s sizes vs. men’s: “Honey, you get a woman a small when she’s really a plus so as not to offend her, but 4XXXXX would only flatter a Harley guy.” Coincidentally, that was the only size they had. So I go to the bar where I order beer instead of my usual champagne cocktail.
“I remember you!” the bartender (who is also clad in black, but I think that was just a lucky coincidence) hollers out. “You did that poodle rescue event here!” I’m in trouble now.
“No, no — you’re confusing me with someone else. It was pit bull rescue.” I take him aside. “Can this just be our little secret for today? And can I borrow your black vest with the chain?”
John has staked our claim at an empty table where he set my raincoat – might as well warn them ahead. But he knows he’d better hang on to my purse … or chase me down and hang it on me.
I don’t want anything to do with that purse right now; I’m fighting for my social life here. I’m pretty good at idle chatter and feigning interest in guy things, but holding that purse would stack the odds against me.
Those beefy guys do come in handy – they block John’s passage as I dart to the rest room to spike my hair and remove most of my makeup.
“Hey! There’s a guy with a purse looking for you,” a deep voice of indeterminate gender calls into my sanctuary.
My husband greets me with, “Missing something?”
“Now listen, darling,” I say. “A man confident in his masculinity can afford to be seen holding his wife’s handbag; and besides, you’re wearing a blue shirt, which is the next best thing to black. Why, you’re the most virile male here. How many of these guys (or gals, for that matter) would be caught dead carrying a pink Coach purse? That separates the men from the … forget I said that.”
But then I have a talk with myself: “Self, into every life comes midlife. Some act out by getting Harleys. Imagine them wearing pink underwear and get over it.”