The Last Luncheon

 

Going

Going

Gone

Barney’s New York

The Pressmans’ legacy

Once the place where we out of towners went to figure out what the cool kids were wearing

Over the years, our stops in the flagship store on Madison have felt more and more like out of body experiences than high touch, high end, exclusive retail

“Um, who in the world would wear that?”

“What is the matter with Barney’s?”

“This is not the store we knew”

“Who’s gonna pay for that?”

The press announced with no small amount of schadenfreude that it’s all a thing of the past

A great shopping experience

Cutting edge clothes

Beautiful space

Concierge service

Gone

Over

Finished

Which brings us to the subject at hand, our meal at Fred’s in the City

We love Fred’s at Barney’s

Clever play on the Flintstones

Brightly lit space on the Ninth Floor

We went there the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago

Place was jammed packed

We went there with just we four a few Saturdays ago on our trip to NYC

The eight floors below seemed empty

The concierge smiled as we entered off Madison

But everything else in the store was dead

Dead

Especially the mens’ department

I guess my Barney’s brand ties are now collectors’ items

We looked at some items before our 1 p.m. reservation

I swanny

No one was in Barney’s

No one

It used to always be packed

We took the elevator to the Ninth Floor, and, on exiting, it was like nothing had changed….felt just like 2012

Wait?

That’s nostalgia?

Seven years ago?

The brightly lit space

The waiters in constant motion

The hostesses being gracious yet firm

“Just a moment, Sir, your table will be ready”

The foursomes who eat there every Saturday

The table of a famous actress in the corner

The well turned out NYC family with disaffected daughter and son constantly on their phones

Us

The London family whose table backed up to ours

The little lady who seemed lost until the waiter approached. She grabbed him by the arm and said, “Oh, thank God. Jose! It’s you. Where’s Walter?”

“Your husband is this way…..”

We sat in a booth facing the windows

Lobster bisque

Caesar salads

Lentil soup

Frittes for the table

Always frittes for the table

The two ladies from New Jersey with their daughters

“I can’t believe this is all going away”

“Drink your Bloody. May be the last one”

It felt so clubby

And bright

And familiar

The food was never going to knock the socks off of its patrons

But, it was always good

And reliable

For a chain in a department store

The announcement some five days later that there would now be pop-ups and instagrammable events in the store makes our meal there seem like some glorious invocation of the past

A recent past

Something so sad about the great temple of commerce going away

Something so comforting about our meal at Fred’s

Always so comforting

The lentil soup special that day pleased our eldest

Huge chunks of lobster in the bisque

The bread basket teeming and ready to be dragged through olive oil

So last century

So damned good

All I could think as I read the news about Barney’s demise was that I was glad we were there for one last luncheon

In light of the lentil soup special that day, I also thought there was something Biblical in the announcement that 660 Madison would soon be gone

Jacob and Easau

Selling off the Pressmans’ birthright for metaphorical bowls of lentil soup

Barney’s CEO stated that her entire industry is in survival mode

High rents

Lower sales

Online and direct sales increasing

But, oh, that lobster bisque

We’ll miss you Fred’s and Barney’s

Yabba dabba doo

On the 6

The Local

I love New York City

Like love

I would move my wife and children there in a minute if we had a gajillion dollars

I love everything about it

Including the large rat that ran across our path on our way to supper in the tony, quiet, and decidedly un-hip UES

But, mostly, I love it because of the people

The people we were scheduled to meet

Godfamily

They live in London

They used to live in New York

We don’t see them enough

We were going for Godmama’s birthday party on Friday night

And the other people I love

My high school pals who live there, too

I love them

Like love

A few weeks before the trip, I sent out another APB to the crew

A few emails, texts

Cocktail hour scheduled

I could only meet for any hour or so before the birthday party, said party being the whole reason we were there

Arranged

Done

Planned

Time and place appointed

So, I left my wife and children in SoHo on a Friday afternoon after the best lunch visiting with the Godfamily in NoHo

After we had gone further downtown in SoHo

To Glossier Flagship in Lower Manhattan

That’s a whole other crazy story

Anyway, I walked from Canal Street up through that benighted bastion of consumerism, over to Broadway, back through NoHo, past Grace Church and The Strand Bookstore, around Union Square, then up to Gramercy Park and then into The Freehand Hotel, prearranged meeting spot

I would love to have access to Gramercy Park, from the Krom Moerasje, little crooked swamp

My kingdom for a key

Because it’s beautiful

And private

I put my phone through the fence to grab that shot

Hope I don’t get a fine from the Gramercy Park Association

But, from basically Canal Street, t’was a hike

Glad the weather was perfect

My AirPods played playlists of music from high school

Lots of music from high school

Had to get my mind right for people who have known me for over thirty years

Earlier in the day, I had seen one of those meeting us at the hotel

Hadn’t changed a bit

As I walked through Union Square, I received a text from him

“Will be a minute or two late”

Another text from our organizer, “Running a little late, getting on the train in BK”

Another text from another friend, “Where are you?”

So, we all met up and visited and laughed and laughed and commiserated and laughed and told stories and laughed and laughed some more

I love these people

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Shoes weren’t all that were lit

 

They say they love me

I pay them handsomely

We pick up right where we left off every time

But we never really leave off

We never do

It’s great to be connected

Our myriad conversations shan’t be repeated here

Two members of the class behind ours joined us, too

We lived in the same dorm

Love them almost as much as my own classmates

They had to get to Brooklyn for Peter Hook’s concert

New Order indeed

As the clocked ticked and the sky darkened, I checked my watch

I had to be on East End Ave by 6:30

No way I was making that

In addition to the two heading to see Mr. Hook, there were others who had to go to the next event

What the City doesn’t sleep when I arrive?

One of us had to go on back to BK

One of us had to be at another party

One of us had to be in the same neighborhood as the Mayor whom they all despise

The rest were going out to supper

Finally, the time came

“Want to meet us later?”

“I don’t want you to leave”

“Can’t we keep you here?”

“Let’s go”

“Let’s go, then”

“And, yet they do not move”

“Isn’t that Waiting for Godot or something?”

“Ham, you’re gonna be late”

“I know, but it’s o.k.”

“Know where you’re going?”

“Sure, 23rd street to the 6 then up to 86th street, then walk on over to East End”

“You got it”

“Need a Metrocard?”

“I have one”

“You’re not a tourist”

“I am such a tourist”

“You hate SoHo; you’re not a tourist”

“You’re going to a party on East End Avenue; you’re not a tourist”

“Trust me; I’m a tourist”

So, we hugged

I hugged them all

Men and women

Equally loved

I walked downstairs and then out into the cooling New York evening and over to the station

As I swiped my Metrocard, I thought, “Damn, I love those people”

As I switched the Spotify station to a lengthy playlist of a certain nostalgic band, I began to cry

Really cry

Like crazy cry

Just full on blubbering

Right there beneath 23rd St

Runny nose crying

Glad I have a handkerchief crying

Crying through the rushing wind and squealing brakes as the 6 pulled into the station

I really stepped on the train heaving

As I held the metal pole held by countless riders, no one paid me one wit of attention

Oh, look, crazy dude crying on the 6

After

All

It

Is

New

York

About the time we rolled into the 51st station, a nice lady standing next to me put her hand on my arm

I took out my AirPods

She said in a lilting Islands accent, “You o.k., Sir?”

She had on medical scrubs

“No, Ma’am. I just left a group of people whom I adore and who adore me. I don’t get to see them enough. It hurts me to leave them.”

“Well, that’s a gift from Him,” she said as she pointed to the sky

More tears at that

Before she got off at the Hunter College Station, she stop and turned, patted me on the arm and said , “Well, good luck. Be glad you have friends.”

“Thank you,” I said. “You have no idea how glad I am”

By the time I got to 86th Street, at least I had stopped shaking

As I walked the five blocks toward the river, I started to smile and giggle at our conversations

They are all wicked smart

And funny

By the time I got to East End Avenue, I was fine

By the time I walked into the party, only my Guardian Angel on the train and I knew about my emotional outburst

She probably thought I was another tourist who had lost his mind in the City

The next day, I heard from another New Yorker classmate who now lives Upstate who said she would have come into the City had she known we were all gonna be together

Ooops

I told her about my crying on the train

Her reply, “Yep. We’ve all cried on the 6 before”

Get Behind Me, Satan

Arriving at my favorite garden store some twenty minutes before they opened, I had no choice but to proceed to the nearest Bojangles for a biscuit and some coffee

Had to

Duty bound

What else would I do early on a Saturday morning?

If you’re not familiar with Bojangles, then, well, you’re obviously not from this part of the world

In the Bo Zone

Bojangles Chicken & Biscuits

Based out of of Charlotte, North Carolina

A Southeastern Staple

It’s Bo Time ™️

Highly recognizable branding

Yellows

Reds

Their biscuits are handmade every day

Magazines have published odes to them

Cajun Filet Biscuits have comforted many a hungover patron with buttermilk and flour and fat and thinly fried chicken breast dipped in hot sauce

Their coffee’s pretty great, too

On the morning in question, I had time to kill, so I went inside to place my order

The lady behind the counter precioused herself to me prior to my turn at the register

As the customer ahead of me finished his order she said, “Well, that’s $13.14. That’s fun to say, idn’t it? Thirteen, fourteen”

I thought so

The patron ahead of me didn’t respond

He smiled wanly

“It’ll be ready in a jif, dahlin,” she said to him

I smiled as I stepped up to the register

“May I please have a sausage and egg biscuit and a large coffee?”

“Oh, I love your manners! And, of course you can, dahlin,” she said

Smiling still, she said, “Well that will be Six dollars and Sixty Six…oh..no..no…no..no…no…no.”

Her countenance changed

Furrowed brown

Worried concern

“Dahlin, I am NOT making change with Satan’s number. I am sanctified. Can you order something else?”

She was not joking

Her eyes were wild with fear

Wild

Knowingly, I replied, “Well, get behind me, Satan. Let’s start over then”

“Now we’re talking, dahlin” she replied. “Now we’re talking!”

She all but high fived me

Too blessed to add to her stress

Should always stick with the Cajun filet and not be led astray by the serpent

Because, much like my new friend at Bojangles, I am not making change with the devil’s number

Digging It

 

In honor and memory of my neighbor Don Jones, who loved to work in his own plot of land

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Green is a color, especially in early spring

In a most tricked out 1970’s color scheme – harvest golds, burnt oranges, avocado greens – a cross stitched saying hung in my maternal grandparents’ hallway leading to the bedrooms

My mother had cross stitched the saying, had framed it, and had presented it to my grandparents, who, at the time, were pretty great gardeners.

Who plants the seed beneath the sod and waits to see believes in God. Anon.

Faith in its truest form

Nathan, whose last name I know not, helped them weekly. He was a wizard in the garden

Really, I never knew Nathan’s last name. Still don’t. He worked for my grandparents, my great aunt and uncle, and some of their friends

Nathan knew how to turn a spade

Green thumbs on both hands

On both sides of my family, I come from a long line of amateur tillers of soil who love to get their hands dirty, who love to see the flowers blossom, who love to see the bulbs produce, who love to plant

I think my European antecedents were all peasants, vassals, serfs, no matter what the family histories may say

I love to work in the dirt

For me, it is a matter of faith to plant, till, sow, hoe, harvest

God put Adam and Eve in a Garden

Jesus is the Vine; we are branches

My Great Grandmother Gladys Jones, who lived in Bishopville, South Carolina, had a garden with roses, daffodils, flox, Queen Anne’s lace, azaleas, spirea, tea olives, a beautiful bed of pink oxalis in front of her porch. Old timey plants

She knew her stuff

On a visit to our house in Beaufort, she turned to my father, her grandson, whom she adored and said, “George, I see you have a wisteria. Hmmmm”

The wisteria came out

My great aunt and uncle Kemp and Rachel Kempson had a beautiful garden with foxgloves.  Aunt Rachel kept egg shells in water to provide calcium to certain plants

My great aunt and uncle Bob and Laura Thomas trained smilax to grow in what were essentially hanging baskets on the side of their piazza in Ridgeway, South Carolina

My maternal grandfather grew amazing tomatoes every year

Bumper crops year after year

He had the touch

My maternal grandmother nourished a flowering quince whose original progenitor was from her grandparents’ home in Virginia

My father is still nourishing a portion of that quince today

She also tended well her myriad camellias

If anyone knows where I can find an Irene Coker variegated red and white bloomer, let me know

I like to think I have inherited the green thumb

Nothing makes me happier than working in our garden

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You should have seen it last week

It’s small

It’s urban

It’s become a Charleston style garden after some 15 years of work

T. Hunter McEaddy designed it for us

Landscape Architect that he is

I grew up watching my parents plant and tend, mow and rake, water and fertilize

Same with all of their neighbors

I swear Beaufort was filled with gardeners, and with helpers in those gardens

African American men who knew how to do

Jack Haynes

Sam Cole

And, again, men whom we addressed only by their first names: Arthur, Julius, Willie

Not appropriate, but it was the time in which I was reared

Jack Haynes helped my parents from time to time and other families around Beaufort

He was a bird

One Saturday as Jack Haynes was helping my father with some yard project, my father broached the subject of another family Mr. Haynes helped on weekends

“Jack,” he called, “you think Miz So-and-So is a little crazy?”

“Crazy?” he asked, “Crazy as shit!”

We have never forgotten that in my family

Crazy as shit

She was. But she was smart enough to hire Jack Haynes to help out in her yard

I like to think I paid attention to the Jack Haynes of the world

Additionally, I love reading books about plants and gardening

Latin names really help in learning about a plant and how to care for it

Those names are in gardening books, too

Books such as

The Gardens at Hatfield by the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury

Penelope Hobhouse on Gardening by Penelope Hobhouse

Obvs

Gardens of Historic Charleston by James R. Cothran

The Charleston Gardener by Louisa Pringle Cameron

No amount of reading substitutes for doing, though

I can gauge the seasons by what I’m doing in the garden

Those of us who are diggers in the dirt are always looking at least two months ahead

Did I put the aluminum sulfate around the hydrangeas soon enough?

Did I add the Hollytone to the Meyer Lemon in time for there to be fruit?

Did I order the paper white bulbs?

Did I order the caladium bulbs?

Did I put the basil in enough sun?

Did I take out too much of the aspidistra?

Did I trim the all the suckers off the limbs of the crepe myrtles?

Did I dig out the lemon balm after it got too leggy?

I don’t want to over plant

A well-known gardener was once quoted as saying she had a fine garden, then she filled it with plants

Accordingly, I only make two annual pilgrimages to Hyam’s Garden Center on James Island

It is my Mecca

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Delphiniums don’t last; nothing does

 

One trip to Hyam’s in mid-October

One trip to Hyam’s in mid-April

For the annuals

The pops of color

I will over plant a pot

Crowd it out

With flowers and greens and seasonal herbs

In October, it’s for pansies, violas, sweet alyssum, stock, foxgloves, delphiniums, snapdragons, parsley, rosemary, potting soil

In April, it’s for periwinkles, pintas, gomphrena, purple shield, million bells, basil, mint, oregano, cilantro, coleus, potting soil

The rotation changes

But not much

I plant 100 caladium bulbs in late April

All the same color of green and white

White Christmas

Every year

I hate change

I live in Charleston

d8eac355-42af-4750-858c-ee850209877f
High bright shade

 

I plant 40 or so daffodil bulbs in October

I am tending a Pink Perfection camellia that came from a cutting from my grandmother’s house in Camden, South Carolina

It’s taken about seven years to be almost two feet tall

I planted another camellia last year

That kind green bud

There are accidental problems in any garden

And in any life

Lambs ears burn up in our heat

Lavender plants, too

Even plants with full sun directions can use a little shade in our subtropical tending to tropical Zone 8

But, there are wonderful surprises in any garden

And in any life

For example, that Wandering Jew taken from a cutting from my in-laws has really taken over in that back corner

Its purple haired beauty spilled from the confines of its clay container and made a run for it, sprouting and colonizing all over

It will take over

We have had two trees taken out of our yard due to two named storms

More sunlight than ever

The grass actually grows

It’s a lot brighter

The yews we planted love it

Yew would, too

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I am the grass

 

I may move my plumbago to give it more sun

The morning glory I run along our back fence every year adores the additional light

So, what’s your story, morning glory? I’m writing this one

Around Mother’s Day, our fence and arch are covered in Confederate jasmine that perfumes the whole yard

The most heady of smells

Around Hallowe’en, the two tea olives by the front porch perfume the whole yard

The most ephemeral of smells

 

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Latch strings on the outside

 

 

I love to weed

I love to be covered in dirt

I love to sweat through the dirt

I love to cut back

I love to trim

I love to prune

I love to spread pine straw

It hides a myriad of sins

I love stand with the hose and water, air pods in place, music going

That cold beer at the end of a full day of yard work tastes so damned good

As the seasons change, it will be time to get to work in the yard

This year, I’m letting two planters become incubators for monkey grass with which I will eventually line a bed

I think I will cut back the hyndrangeas as they are getting kind of leggy

img_8994
Aluminum sulfate works

 

 

But what to put in those planters by the gate?

That’s the best part of being a digger of the dirt

Creativity

Following in the steps of the Old Master

Having a little faith

 

 

A La Mode

Fashions fade; style is eternal. Yves Saint Laurent

img_0185
Frock me running

 

On August 19, 2019, I received a text message from a young lady who works at a certain store in Charlotte, North Carolina

“You and MP better be coming to the Fashion Show!”

My reply, “What fashion show?”

“You got an invite via email”

“Must be in my junk/spam”

“It was sent to your regular email Check it and lemme know”

So, I checked spam/clutter/junk and found the Paperless Post Invitation

You’re invited to the Capitol Fall/Winter Presentation

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Noon

Capitol

4010 Sharon Road

Charlotte

Got it

Quick calls to MP

A few texts later

I reply

WHY NOT? ALL IN

What does one wear?

I know

Clothes from said store

Day trip to Charlotte to support our pals who run the place, work there, make it happen

Again, I really don’t know why they like us

Still trying to figure that one out some 32 years of friendship later

So, it was off for a day trip to a fashion show in Charlotte among the fashionable, with a couple Lowcountry kids sprinkled in just for fun

I have never attended a fashion show

Ever

Well, may be there was that one at Andover back in ’89

We’re always up to help a pal and show up hoping we won’t embarrass

As I texted our hostess’s husband, “I don’t want to look like country come to town”

His reply, “Never. I invented country come to town”

I think we were suitably attired among all the beautiful people

Got some compliments anyway

So, after another drop off at school, we were in the car to the Queen’s City

On arrival, we killed some time

Got something to drink

Then, sent a text to our hostess

“You want us?”

“Come over! Champagne and wafers!”

She meant she was serving bubbly wine and cheese biscuits, the kind with the pecan on them, made by Sarah Wrenn her own self

Arriving at the store, the doyenne herself was out front greeting

Peels of laughter and delight as we walk up,  “Oh, well, look who’s here! Heeeeyyy. Thank y’all for coming. Oh, I can’t thank y’all enough! Get some champagne! Oh, by the way, fashion shows last like eight minutes. Sorry to disappoint.”

“It’s o.k.; we have to get back for a volleyball game at 7:30”

“Don’t worry. You’ll TOTALLY make that”

So, there we were, champagne in hand at 11:15 on a Tuesday morning

“Laura, I’m feeling like a total dilettante”

“Stop it”

So in went on in to Capitol

We walked in and it was kind of like being Norm Peterson when he used to walk into that bar known as Cheers. It’s always like that there for us

“NORM!”

“HAM!”

“MP!”

Everyone knows us and is glad to see us

Or they feign it really well

Decades of friendship pay dividends

Upon being greeted by our pal Wizzie Irvin, she showed us our section and told us where to sit on the removable benches

“Is this for a soccer game later?” I asked

“No,” replieed the Wizz.  “That’s where you sit. Y’all sit right here. Put your stuff down on these two seats.  Best view.  Hamlin, you better take notes”

Don’t worry, Wizz

 

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No, the lady on the left is not smoking, vaping, or juuling

 

Before the big event, we worked the room

Spoke to some of the folks

Introductions

Sipping on the bubbly

Refilling the glasses

Drinking water, too, after the long drive

Mainly wanting to hang with our pals who are hosting

“Where the hell is your husband?” I inquired of the hostess

“He’ll breeze in like two seconds before this starts”

Ran into an old college pal, “I thought I might see y’all here. Do you ever work? You write all the time and travel all the time”

“That social media can be deceiving. Was at my office for six hours last Saturday. Do I work? All the damned time”

Hugs and kisses all around

Back outside for more water where a Beaufort family’s in-law’s in-law is running late, shoes in hand

Introductions made all around

Oh, the South

“Y’all, this is not the Charlotte I grew up in! But, now, I just go with it!” said the in-law’s in-law

We are politely corralled into our seats by ladies with iPads and sweet smiles

Best seat mates on either side of us

One is a lovely lady from Charlotte who used to work at the store who it was really great to meet in real life

On the other side of MP was an attorney who lives in Charlotte who was wearing a turban

Really

A turban

So chic

So Nick Cannon

Her best friend from law school used to work with me and now works with my wife

Oh, the South

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Three lawyers at a fashion show on a Tuesday….NBD

 

 

“Please put your phones on airplane mode”

People already had their phones out

So many grabs to be had

“You’re gonna love this playlist, Hamlin” said Scott Newkirk, the impresario of this opera

Then it all began

There were Twenty Two Looks

I took notes on most of them

I circled a coat that MP liked

It sold in five minutes after the show

Our favorite model told us she could not look at us or she was going to laugh

I do that to people

They see me and laugh

Our eldest daughter would have rocked Look 9, which was a mini dress by Cecilie Bahnsen, whoever that is

The Brilliant Belgian Baron van Noten does not advertise

The show was a big advertisement for his creations

Dresses

Coats

Turtlenecks

Eccentricity on display

Like the men’s tie-dye trench coat that if it were worn by any normal man, his backside would be kicked

There were men’s clothes from Tabor, the brother store of Capitol

The Gryffindors at Hogwarts crafted one of the men’s looks in their Common Room one night

Everyone wants to be a Gryffindor

I saw a sweater I purchased featured in that one

I’m so not on trend that I’m on trend

At Look 15, The Breeders’ heavily breathed “Cannonball” blared through the speakers

I know that was just a head nod to me

After the show I said as much

“Oh, yeh, we did that just for you,” said our hostess facetiously

“Actually, I did think of you when I added that one song to the list. We’ve talked about the Pixies in Charleston one time,” said the impersario

Oooh

Burn

Snag

Looks continued with

sequin bedecked draped columns

maxi skirts

horse prints

Roksanda open backs

Irene Neuwirth’s jewels everywhere

Everywhere

One of the looks could have used more cow bell

Then at the end, glamour

Looks 20 through 21

Giambatitista Valli Haute Couture

Wow

The playlist had turned to arias for the last three looks

As well it should have

Each dress was its own designed descant

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The Prima Donna

 

As the last glimpse of gray Italian tulle turned the corner, those assembled began a polite golf clap

As the models went around for one last showing, the clapping increased

Then, everyone was up from their benches as though the coach said, “Clear the bench”

Less than 18 minutes start to finish

The staff and the owners hustled the benches outside

Influencers began to take pictures of the haute couture assembled before the garden wall

So many head shots

So many posts

So many hashtags

So many stories

So many pretty women

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^^^^  all her vision….that one there in the simple white shirt

 

We talked to some folks and milled around

“Are you Hamlin? I’m Susan. We met you at the 20th anniversary party.”

“Of course!” I said, “Wow that was during the fireworks”

“Kind of late, eh?”

“Your family’s place; it’s lovely”

“If you ever wanna go out and shoot, call me”

“If you’re ever in Charleston, call us”

Conversations like that

A lovely lady stopped me and said, “Hamlin, I’m Sarah. I listened to Laura’s podcasts with you. I could listen to the two of you all day.  You should have your own podcast. I’m serious.”

“Aren’t you nice,” I replied

“I’m not kidding. Your episodes with her are the best ones. So natural. So funny.”

MP smiled and said “That’s no act, either. That’s how they are all the time in their conversations.”

“Well, you should do your own. I’d totally listen.”

Her lips to God’s ears

By then, I was kind of starving

Our hostess made the rounds

And, we made it round to the corner with the cheese biscuits

Right there

The kind my mother and mother-in-law make

These have a lot of cayenne

That’s the key

And they were tucked away by some Golden Goose shoes

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Silver and gold

 

As I stood stuffing my mouth, I watched a lot of ladies preening and prancing and putting on clothes

A lot of peacocks

#charlottesgotalot

A lot of peacocks

Confirmed by a Charlottean who used that hash tag

Her husband is one of MP’s cousins

Really

Introduced a Hamlin by marriage to my bride

Love to meet a fellow Hamlin

Even if it is by marriage

Her ex-husband might be one of my cousins

Really

We visited with some other folks for a while, including a lady who lives in Charleston

Her husband, too, is one of MP’s cousins

Really

“This is hilarious. We should do something together soon back home. I can just see you in that tie dyed coat at the club, Hamlin”

Hi-lar-ee-us

Finally, our hostess made her way over, and we visited for a bit

A lovely Charlotte lady informed our hostess of the following:

“Laura, these are my new best friends. I’m serious. How long are y’all here? I want y’all to come over for a drink!”

“We are leaving shortly”

“Well, dang,” says the new best friend

I replied, “MP is the one you want in this deal”

Laura agreed

Duh

I mentioned our departure

“Y’all don’t go. Stay. Really. Have some more champagne. Stay. Really”

“We can’t”

“Really. Don’t leave me. Grab a water”

“But you’re leaving later, too. What time you flying out?”

“Six”

“Well, see, you have to leave shortly anyway”

“I live two seconds from here. Don’t go”

She meant it

We hung out a little bit longer

“By the way, uh, where did your husband go? I didn’t even get to talk to him,”

“Oh, he got out of here super fast. Probably right back to the office. Y’all can’t go”

Crestfallen visage with soft smile

So, we hung out a little bit longer

Then we pulled the plug

“I love y’all so much,” said our hostess. “It means the world that y’all came. Really. The world.”

Really

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progressives

We dress like students, we dress like housewives,

Or in a suit and a tie

I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,

I don’t know what I look like!

“Life During Wartime”

The Talking Heads

Lyrics by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth

1979

 

 

Now we are six……plus 41

 

They’re called progressives nowadays

But, let’s not delude via euphemism

They’re still bifocals

Bifocals

Thanks, Ben Franklin

Bifocals

Biflippingfocals

The glasses of the old

No more optical lines of demarcation visible in the lens though

And, now, I have to wear them

Presbyopia

From the Greek

Presbus meaning old man or elder

Ops meaning of or related to the eye

Eyestrain

Headaches

Refractive misfiring

Aging eyes

Tired eyes

Slowing eyes

In the last few months, I have tromboned newspapers, iPhones, grocery lists, deposition transcripts, pleadings, orders, pleasure books

“I think you need progressives,” said my bride

Like other folks of a certain age, I would place glasses atop my head to read fine print and press my nose into the paper

For decades, I’ve worn glasses to correct myopia

Insert joke here

Contacts came later

First diagnosed by our family’s ophthalmologist while I was in Law School

I probably muddled through for years prior

In fact, I know I did

One of those students who always sat on the back row but should have sat on the front

I leaned over test papers, exams, notes

One teacher in high school recommended an eye exam

So, I went over a break

The eye doctor made me read Snellen’s chart from the elephantine E all the way down to the puny PEZOLCFTD, which I memorized as I sat in the waiting room

Passed with flying colors

But, I didn’t

I cheated

The only time I ever cheated on an exam

Vanity, thy name is teenager

Vanity, thy name is forty something year old

Since donning my first pair of glasses in 1995, I’ve been through several pairs as prescriptions gradually strengthen to compensate for weakening eyes

I’m partial to tortoise shell or acrylic frames

I try to buy the hippest, youngest frames I can get in a futile attempt to keep looking as young as possible

In our youth obsessed, narcissistic age, why wouldn’t I?

Stuck in a hipness that exists only in my own mind

Warby Parker

Robert Marc

Garrett Leight

I try to avoid that Milanese Monopoly Luxottica

Optical Oligarchs

One of my favorite makers recently sold out to another company

The local vision store on King Street that’s been a staple forever, Jackson Davenport, always does me right

Their knowledgeable folks scour high and low for good frames

They ain’t cheap

One of their folks is heading to Paris as I write to go to the largest trade show in Europe

Luckily, they had a few old school frames from my favorite designer

Half price

“Their quality has gone straight to hell,” one of the owners told me

“Yeh, well, apparently, so has my vision,” I replied

“Stop it. We have practically the same prescription. It’s just aging, which certainly beats the alternative”

She had a point

But, bifocals

Really

Putting on the progressives, I didn’t see waves or blurry lines

In my head, I saw, pun intended, weakening optic nerves, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, blindness, darkness

And, then, ultimately, the grave

“A place where nobody knows” as Mr. Byrne and crew sang

I’ll continue to fight the aging process just as his guerilla warrior fought in a dystopian America

I’ll fight with my progressives, youthful raiment, sunscreen, dressing like students, or in a suit in a tie

Truly Middle Aged

Middle Aged AF, as the kids would say

 

Too Old to be Young; Too Young to be Old

We have been married for twenty (20) years

We’re pretty proud of that

Twenty years of ups, downs, highs, lows, sicknesses, healths, richers, poorers

Forsaking all others

Some twenty years ago we were in the thick of weddings almost every Saturday between Lent and football season

Getting married in the fall in the South is almost sacrilege due to our other religion’s dominance, college football

As we have aged, the invitations for weddings have slowed

Recently, we received a lovely invitation to a young couple’s nuptials

Engraved

From Arzberger’s in Charlotte

Which we adore

Our favorite stationer as expressed many times

The wedding will be at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church here in Charleston

Same church where we were hitched

The replaced and rehung bells rang for our wedding for the first time since the Big Gun Shoot

The reception to follow will be at an expected venue here in Charleston

What is unexpected is that we were invited

The bride’s parents came to our wedding

It seems an honor to be included

But, dadgum, things have changed in twenty years

Wedding websites

Registry links

Hash tags for the event, e.g., #smithbecomesjones

Via the links we have purchased an appropriate gift to be delivered to the home of the bride’s parents

A gift of something chosen by the bride and groom

For the table

On the website, the retailer asks a question or two

“Would you like to include your home address for a thank you note?”

Of course we would

Plus, the bride and groom should have it

They sent us an inviation

As we clicked and entered card numbers, I asked my bride, “Is it so tacky to do it this way?”

Her reply, “Everyone else does”

I don’t think that makes it any less tacky

Three clicks later

Gift ordered

Note included via registry that the item has been purchased

Wants 12; Purchased 2

Confirmation email

Seems so impersonal

No need for our enclosure card

There are stores in Charleston and Beaufort that still have our cards on file for gift giving

Guess we should ask for those back to use for, well, upcoming graduation gifts

That’s the season of life in which we find ourselves mainly

No need to strike through the name and add a handwritten note on the back for the bride and groom

Guess the bride can send us an email

A pithy text sometime in the next year should be fine, too

Something like this

TYVM 😘

((HUGS))

My reply would be something like this

🤢

OMG

I’m using emoji’s

Make it stop

We’re just too old

The world moved on to less formality

I did not

At wedding receptions, I still go get drinks for ladies

I still never make a plate, either

My parents told me that

A Charleston lady agreed with me one time when I told her that I don’t make plates at receptions or parties

“Dahlin, nice people never do”

Everyone does these days

But, being our age, wedding receptions are always interesting

We’re too young to hang out with the parents of the bride and groom and their friends

We’re too old to hang out with the bride and groom and their friends

We hope to find another couple our age with whom we are comparable, can sneak out early, go to supper, even in our black tie and fancy frocks

The last wedding we attended was a couple years back, and we did just that

Early in

Early out

Supper with friends

Everyone in the restaurant staring at us, but, since it’s Charleston, it’s not uncommon to see folks dressed for supper out on the town

The days of shutting down the reception and then going out are long gone

Long

Long

Long

Long gone

Those days were epic

Back when that email thing was just catching on in offices around the country

Back when that man from Arkansas was President

Back when people still smoked

Back twenty years ago

I love weddings

I love to be invited to weddings

I will have a wonderful time at this upcoming wedding

Even as my wife and I stand alone at the reception looking for other folks our age

Just like all the other sixth graders