“Quit your dawdling!” Grammy tugged on my sleeve. “We must stop at the jewelry department before going upstairs for lunch and the fashion show.” Like Holly Golightly browsing through Tiffany’s, Grammy loved peering through Nieman’s glass jewelry cases oohing and ahhing over their contents but never actually buying anything. She eyed several necklaces eventually focusing on a string of pink pearls.
“May I look at those pink pearls?”
“Yes, certainly, Madam.” The clerk retrieved the pearls, draped them over a piece of dark blue velvet, and handed them to Grammy.
“Oh, these are exquisite!”
Without asking permission, the clerk clasped the pearls around Grammy’s slender neck and handed her a mirror. “I’ll take them!” she blurted without even looking at the price tag. “No need to box them up. I’ll wear them now.” My eyes widened in disbelief as she handed the clerk a one-hundred dollar bill.
“I know what you’re thinking. Yes, these pearls are expensive, but I left the house this morning without putting on my jewelry. A lady never leaves the house without putting on her jewelry! It’s uncouth!”
Grammy adjusted her Chantilly lace shawl and took one last glance in the mirror. “Time for lunch!”
We strutted toward the elevator doors where a white-gloved man greeted us. “Which floor, Madam?”
“The Sixth Floor—The Zodiac Room, please.”
When the elevator doors re-opened, Grammy straightened her back; adjusted her pearls; and pranced toward a gray-haired man wearing a black tuxedo. The maître d' greeted us and said, “Hi Myrtle! Your usual table?”
“Right this way,” he bowed ever so slightly then whisked us to our table.
The room was teeming with fashionable women wearing pill box hats, white gloves, and tight-waisted dresses. Models sashayed from table to table presenting the latest in-vogue 1960s fashions including a pencil-thin model who strolled by us wearing a pair of tightly-fitted Capri pants and a sleeveless, polka-dotted blouse.
“How delightful, but” Grammy sighed, “I’m too old to wear something that flashy, and my arms are flabby. See!” She lowered her shawl and jiggled the loose skin on her upper arm. “An older lady never wears anything sleeveless. It’s inelegant! Besides, my stomach pooches out. A lady never wears pants if her stomach pooches out. It’s graceless!”
A lifetime has passed since Grammy introduced me to the finer points of ladyhood. I’ve often wondered whatever happened to her pink pearls. Shortly after her passing, I received a package containing Grammy’s Chantilly lace. I gingerly unfolded it revealing Grammy’s pink pearls and her handwritten note. “I hope you enjoy wearing these as much as I did. Remember, always be a lady!”
I choked back the tears, for I realized her words, her pink pearls of wisdom, had remained with me all these years. At 60+ years of age, I’m uneasy wearing sleeveless dresses; I never leave the house without putting on my jewelry; and without thinking, I always double-check when I wear pants making sure that my stomach doesn’t pooch out.