It was a beautiful day in May. The kind that makes one think of beaches, bathing suits and picnics. No such luck today.
Kaye and I were on our way to have lunch at Barbara Hatcher’s home. Barbara was one of those business friends that develop out of need for each others goodwill in company business.
She was quite charming,a great hostess and a good idea of where she belonged in the scheme of things. She had always been delightful to Kaye and I, so when she called and told us she wanted to have us over for lunch before she left to go to Mexico for the summer. ( She went every summer) I laughed and said, “She probably wants you to take care of her dog.”
“Because you live closer than I do. No, I was joking. She takes the dog with her. I don’ t know much about her, but I do know that. I have only met her socially about seven or eight times and then out to dinner with them twice. I think she is very nice. But I sure wouldn’t tell her all things you and I tell each other. I do not think of her as a close friend. She goes to your church doesn't she?”
“Yes, and she sings in the choir and has a nice voice. Molly told me that is about all they do other than give large donations to everything the church does. She was raised in Chicago and comes from big money. I don’t know how she knows that. And she told me that the women is totally unflappable. When her daughter was married about nine years ago here in their back yard, the caterer was from Lake Geneva and he had an auto accident.He called Ben and told him he would need to rent a van; he would have to reload everything into a rented van; he had started early but he told Ben he would be 45 minutes late.There was already seventy or eighty people of the hundred people invited to the house and no food! Ben was running around repeating ‘What will we do?’
Barbara told him calmly, “You get someone to help you and keep refreshing everyone's drinks. They may be drunk but they will all remember they had a good time.”
He did just that. Molly said they had a great time.
“Well, that is really keeping your cool. I am impressed. I do think Ben is kind of a nervous Nelly anyway.” We grinned at each other as I pulled into Barbara and Ben’s drive. The restored Victorian home was always a delight to see.
I rang the doorbell and soon Barbara was at the door greeting us warmly with a gentle hug and said,” I am so happy to see you girls again. I was hoping for a nice day and it is. Come in,come in. Let’s go out on the terrace, I made us a pitcher of frozen daiquiris. Do you like daiquiris? I have tea if you would rather have tea.”
Kaye and I agreed we would rather have the daiquiris. Barbara left us on the terrace to admire her wonderful roses. She soon returned with a pitcher and tall slender glasses in hand. She poured them carefully and handed each of us the wonderful cooling drink.
She ask each of us about our children and listen intently as though she was hanging on every word. She was such a perfect hostess I thought. Then I thought is she for real? And so it went small talk,small talk,small talk. Barbara jumped up and said, “Well, I must go check the chicken breasts, everything must be about done.”
I looked over at Kaye and smiled and she looked as bored as I felt.
Barbara called thru the door and Kaye and I picked up empty pitcher and glasses and walked off the terrace.Barbara met us with ,”Oh, you girls didn’t need to do that.” She smiled and took the tray. “Come in the dining room and sit down down.”
There the table was set for a very lovely luncheon.The food was elegant, the wine was too. We finally had stimulating conversation when I asked Barbara was she still doing water colors. I had stuck an information nerve in her and she told Kaye and I how she loved to go to Mexico. That she had a maid and gardener there and she did nothing but paint. How fine it was to realize this lady had a wonderful passion other than being the “hostess with the mostess.” We became totally caught up in her painting and she agreed to show us her paintings.
Kaye said,” Let Jean and I clear the dishes to the kitchen and you can show us water colors. We won’t take no for an answer. Will we,Jean?”
“That’s right you heard her.” We carefully carried crystal, china and wine bottles to the kitchen.
She returned with five water colors and an easel. There was an open stair case behind her now as she stood putting each water color on and taking the next off. “ They are truly wonderful,Barbara, I said. Why don’t you have a show?”
“Well, I have been approached by someone in”--------the look on our faces surely gave Barbara a indication that we were looking over her shoulder. She turned and saw coming down the stairs was a very pretty elderly lady wearing only her eye glasses and nothing else!
Barbara sighed deeply and calmly said,”Hello, Mother.” With a faint smile on her face she said,”Mother, I would like you to meet my friends, Kaye and Jean.” Mother nodded. We smiled and nodded.
Barbara turned and put a loving arm around her shoulder and said,”This is Ben’s mother and she makes her home with us. And she is going with me to Mexico over the summer. Mother,I think you better go upstairs and start to pack we have a lot to do.”
Barbara kissed her on the cheek and Mother went back up the stairs but turned and waved before she went through the door.
Barbara returned and continued telling about her chances for a one woman show as though nothing had happened. Kaye and I stayed for dessert and good conversation for almost and hour and a half. We never mentioned Mother’s nudity nor did she.
As we left we told Barbara we had a wonderful time and we would see her in the fall when she returned. Kaye and I agreed we would never tell anyone about what happened. Even though we laughed as we drove home that day.
Kaye said , “Well, Molly is right-- Barbara is totally unflappable.”