On Walking
A Wheel of Wonder Bread

Miss Lucy's Lady With the Alligator Purse


There is a straw in my cocktail. I know perfectly well I don't look like a twelve year old; maybe this is meant to be consumed from the bottom up. It is an absurdly layered drink very much like the one Lucia ordered to match a Hatteras sunset. Also, I am fairly certain I would never have ordered a drink with a straw, with the exception of a Bloody Mary. I can't comment on the layers. I wasn't sure if I should be at least a little affronted or just surprised. The drink menu left with my order but I didn't recall anything in the description involving magic science tricks. There was something lodged in the grey matter about the density of water and the density of oil and why one floats on the surface of the other. 

Ha! Red wine is less dense than the concoction of lemon, sugar, and whiskey sitting at the bottom of the glass waiting to be slurped first through the straw. This can't be right. If I wanted my dinner wine served alongside the wait for dinner cocktail, I would have ordered a whiskey sour NEXT to a glass of wine; a two fisted drinker with an odd choice in chasers. 

I promptly removed the straw the way I remove the straw from a glass of water at a diner. Plop. Purple on white linen. Elizabeth was mortified and wanted to get something to rinse it out. I explained linen services and that anything short of blood and/or lipstick comes out. She was dubious. I thought about drinking from the top of the glass sans straw (which had created a purple straw-shaped death scene. I throw my napkin over the corpse) and decide no matter how good the wine, it isn't going to taste like wine anymore.

I put the straw back in the glass. 



Slurp slurp slurp... that sound that happens at the bottom of the glass... SLUrp.

Waiter:    Would you like another?

Me:         That might end badly. 

Waiter:    Would you like to see the wine list again?

Me:         That would also end badly. 

Dinner was impeccable. The service was impeccable. We'd walked in the door at 4:45, Open Table having committed the crime of lying about available seats and times, and nearly wreaked havoc by confirming a reservation 75 minutes prior to doors open. I owe the kitchen. I've already taken care of the waiter. 


In broad daylight we drove down a longish rough road into a mostly empty parking lot which suggested valet parking and no other.

I hate that. I pulled into the valet only parking lot with zero cash in my pocket and thought about turning around and ordering a pizza instead. We were hungry; she was petulant, and I was whiney. Best to get this over with. I parked in the upper left corner of what might as well have been a grass field, ground surface undulating, waiting for the first pair of heels of the night.

SCORE! Shouted the upper left corner. 

Nope, sorry, casual black flats and high topped used to be white Converse. 

It's funny how one person's response to a thing might be a flood of warm fuzzy memories and to the other, absolute horror.


I'm not going in there, Mom.

Why the hell not (whine), it's a barn built in 1770 and turned into an inn in 1880. What could possibly go wrong?

They're going to be mean to us because we're underdressed.

They are not going to be mean because I am not underdressed.

Mom. You're wearing flats, slightly grubby jeans, and a t-shirt with definitely inappropriate holes. 

I examined the front of my shirt. 

I don't see any holes.

Mom. You know exactly where the holes are in that shirt.

Right. Those aren't holes, they're air vents. Elizabeth, walk into a place as if you were perfectly turned out but more importantly, as if you truly and thoroughly belong there. Works 99.99999% of the time unless you're a man and missing the requisite jacket and tie which is still OK because they'll just loan them to you. You turn them back in right before the man comes with the car. Besides, Elizabeth, the place is deserted. The best we can hope for is mediocre food and decent service. Now take a breath and walk forward before I pass out.

I might be too booby.

You are often too booby based on your standards as I understand them. If you're really worried about it, sit up straight with your hands in your lap and everything will be fine.

How will I eat like that! I at least need my hands.  sooooo literal, this one

Nope. Sorry. No food for the too booby.


Had this been Lucia, it would have been a Maaaaaaaa (think loud and shrill) and a smack on my arm. I have learned that no matter how obnoxious, Lucia is not a snack. Lucia is a person and we do not bite people. Mostly. 

Mike would have imagined he was wearing one of the beautiful suits he was required to purchase and wear when he worked at The Suitery (I don't think JoS. A. Banks would appreciate being called The Suitery, but it's kind of accurate) and muttered:  mother. a heads up would have been appreciated. 

Elizabeth is generally a little easier.

The meal was everything I thought I should be. Toward the end of our evening, just a little before six, Lilly Pulitzer and her mother, the Pink Chanel Suit were ushered to a corner table. They were escorted by Miss Lucy's Lady with the Alligator Purse. Miss Lucy's Lady wore a hat very much like the hat perched on the head of the Pink Chanel Suit. Lilly Pulitzer's hair wasn't going to fit under a Pink Chanel Suit sort of hat. At least not that particular evening.

A few minutes after the seating, questions about the menu were delivered into thin air. The waiter, who wasn't really a waiter was running for the hills. The waiter who was not the Fake Waiter appeared about sixty seconds after the departure of the really well trained imposter. 

Elizabeth: Mom. What's wrong with that lady's face?

Mom:    Which lady, sweetheart, there are three ladies faces over there.

Elizabeth:    The Alligator Purse Lady.

Mom:    Too much botox in the early botox years.

Elizabeth:    Too much what?

Mom:    Bo oh oh oh oh Tox. The stuff they put in your face to keep it from ever moving again. A little shot of the plague with fairly frequent boosters will freeze your face in its most current condition. 

Elizabeth:    And her lips?

Mom:    Don't go there. I'm warning you. Do not go there.

Elizabeth:    Mom. What happened to the Alligator Purse Lady's lips?

Mom:    Sigh. Those aren't lips anymore, sweetie. They're face boobs.

Elizabeth:    What?!!

Mom:    Think it through.

Elizabeth:  .....  I think I have to go to the bathroom. 

Mom:    hisssss... Elizabeth, there is no possible route to the bathroom that will take you past that table. 

The Alligator Purse Lips were a harbinger; just the first strong gusts announcing the coming of the extraordinary, possibly every night storm. 

I paid the check, thanked the Fake Waiter behind the bar profusely and stepped into the light. Not much going on in the parking lot. I almost went back to check the footwear on at least Pink Chanel Suit because that demands kitten heels at the very least. I got in the car instead and drove us home.

Two hours later I looked around for my phone. This is not unusual. I frequently lose my phone and if the ringer is on and Elizabeth is home, she calls the phone and it comes running, leaps right in to my hands.

If the phone is on vibrate and not in the immediate vicinity I have to use the computer to call the phone and that has always worked out with the exception of the two times the phone was not actually in the house.

At 8:30 I was starting to panic. I knew the phone was silenced so we didn't bother with Elizabeth's phone. It hadn't occurred to me at all to Find My Phone from the Mac but Elizabeth decided to call the phone and see what happened.

Elizabeth:    Uh huh. Uh huh. Yes. Ok. Thanks.

Mom:        What?! 

Elizabeth:    You left your car on the seat at the Kittle House.

Mom:        How much do I have to pay you to fetch it?

Elizabeth:    You don't have that much money and you never will.

Mom:        So it's like that, is it?

Elizabeth:    But I'll go with you. I'll go with you and you can run in and get it from the front desk.

Mom:        Will you drive the getaway car?

Elizabeth:    Nope.

Mom:        OK, get in. Let's go. This is not going to be even remotely painful. I assure you. 

At the end of the long dark drive, there were long dark cars pulling up to the portico. Lots of Alligator Purses and Pink Chanel Suits got out but Lilly Pulitzer is not evening wear. In the 'parking lot' (front field?), side by side, row by row waited the long dark cars. Some were occupied, some had occupants wandering about. Not a single valet in sight, assumption being, you bring your own.


A distressingly expensive vehicle was pulled up in front of the portico, its driver just getting out when The Fake Waiter came running out the front door... mumble mumble, took the keys, showed the man through the door. Forty seconds later he parked that car between two dark corridors like buttah. 

I pulled up to the portico.



Mom. We drive a Toyota.

Yep. We do. I believe there is another Toyota just over there. 

Mom. That's the staff lot.

Hmmm... Kittle House staff are very smart people. 

Mom. This is embarrassing. What if that guy runs back out here and tries to grab our car?!

Hmmm... Don't really think that's going to happen.

I got out of the car, left it running, and ran through a front door the size of - well - the size was a little alarming and why hadn't I noticed in plain daylight? In the very Inn-ly foyer I addressed the woman behind the desk. 

You have my phone?

I do?

I believe so. My daughter called and was told it had been left on a chair. 

Hmmm... oh. Wait! Is this it?

Yes - reaching my hand out - 

Wait - pulling the phone out of reach - - - ahem. cough. And your name is...?

Glare. Bring up the emergency information. Check. A-  Am I right? 

Glare. Yes. Answer another. Who is your in case of emergency contact?

Crap. Well, I hope like hell it's Father of Elizabeth. If not, we may have a problem.

Glare. It is not Father of Elizabeth. Try again. 

Male or female?

Really? You need hints?


Nope. One more try.

And then what?

And then it's not your phone. 

Give me a second, please... reaching across the desk for the land line. Dialing my own damn phone number...

Buzz buzz buzz 

Well, aren't you going to answer it? 

It says the Kittle House is calling.

Answer. The. Phone. Please. (you are fucking with me. why are you fucking with me?)


Hello. Now give me my phone. 

I do a great 'pivot on one heel and stalk out the door'. 

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. There is a line of three or four large dark vehicles pulled up behind my dirty red RAV4. There is no sign of Elizabeth who was supposed to move the car if this happened. 

I stalk to the driver's side door. No Elizabeth. OK. I'll just get in and get out of the way. As I pulled forward I heard a whisper from the floor directly behind me.

Mom? Mom, is that you?

Elizabeth, WHAT is wrong with you?! 

Mom. One of those guys was wearing a tux. 


You have holes in your shirt and I'm too booby to be here.

This is why you're hiding on the floor of the backseat?


Elizabeth, they are air vents. I have air vents in the back of my shirt, where they are definitely required and you, you! Dude, all I can say is, did you SEE THE FACE BOOBS ON THAT ALLIGATOR PURSE?!!!

I have a nearly overwhelming urge to hang out in this bar one night


I'll ask for three New York Sours, drink them one after the other and then stagger on home.