As I mentioned my SO is a Brit and we go to London fairly often. I realize that Winter is not the best time to travel to the UK, but we are often there then. The time I am writing about now was in February. It was cold and rainy, as it can be. Also with really strong winds. Overall, a pretty miserable day. My SO needed to go to his bank on Edgeware Road that day-I got dressed thinking that we were meeting up with friends in SoHo for lunch. After struggling with the weather and having to take refuge in Tesco Express while my SO talked on his phone, outside, for about 15 minutes-seemingly unaware of the weather-he then informed me that our lunch date was the next day. By this time I was totally whipped by the wind, cold and damp and had no desire to go tromping around SoHo. I declared that I was miserable and I needed French food for lunch. As we had booked a movie at 2:30, we headed back to Chelsea to a restaurant,that while is not a 5 star it would do. It’s a chain, but consistent and it’s French. It always has a “buzz” about it and there’s lots of people to look at and the food is pretty good. It’s always packed out at lunch, but we were able to get a 2 top on the back wall of banquette seating.
So, having settled down, gotten out of the weather and ordered, I sat back and took it all in, waiting for my food- finally feeling less frazzled.
We were seated at the second from the last table. All of a sudden I became aware of the hemline of a full length mink coat with a pair of beautifully woven wool trousers coming out of the bottom and a fine pair of leather shoes below them while hearing a female voice saying something to the Maitre’D along the lines of “Where will you put my coat-it’s VERY expensive and I don’t want it out of my sight”. This was not shouted, but it wasn’t a whisper either. As I slowly looked up from the bottom of her coat I saw a beautifully made up woman of “a certain age”-she could have been in her late 60’s or early 70’s-I’m not really sure-Her makeup was perfect and she had a pretty face. As I slowly looked up, she was taking off her coat, handing it to the guy. Then I got to her head. She had a SHOWER CAP on! A clear one. Now she has just walked through a very busy restaurant with probably at least 100 people in it with a SHOWER CAP on her head. This place is attached to a hotel and she could have easily gone into the lobby of the hotel into the Loo and taken it off there, but no-she took that shower cap off with such finesse all I could do was stare. And her hair fell out-soft blonde waves perfectly coifed-It looked like a shampoo commercial from the 60’s! Well, I was hooked. I kept motioning for my SO to look but he would have had to turn his whole body to look and he-being a British gentleman-was NOT going to do that. Then she was bending over-she still hadn’t sat down yet-and was shaking the water off of the shower cap! Like she was going to use it later! I looked around to see if anyone else was looking (of course they were!) and I caught the eye of one of the servers. She and I started to laugh then she caught herself and we couldn’t look at each other from then out.
Well, I was all eyes then! And ears! The woman sat with her back to the restaurant (Why for God’s sake?) obviously waiting for someone. She ordered a glass of Chardonnay-ice cold. The other person turned out to be someone interviewing her. She had a copy of a book that she had written. After eavesdropping and putting two and two together, I realized that she had been involved-had been the lover-of a man who had been accused of murdering his New York socialite wife in the 70’s.. Not sure if it was a big story abroad, but in the US it was huge. She’d written her account but had to change the names. She’d had a gag order placed on her telling the story (some of this I got from the internet when I looked her up)
So, we got our meal-she looked at mine, asked if it was good, I said yes! Delicious, perfect for the weather. My SO and I left to make our movie on time. Because it was still pouring down and we were afraid of missing our bus we didn’t speak til we got on the bus.
Where I totally lost it! I could not stop laughing and asked if that shower cap thing was a British thing or what. I mean, tears were running down my face and I was gasping! Everytime I somewhat got myself under control, it started again. Of course everyone on the bus had to notice, but being polite-and British-they probably just chalked it up to me being an American. I mean, I could not keep it together. I just kept picturing her taking that thing off with hair falling out perfectly and she shaking the water out of the cap!
We made it to the movie on time. But I caught myself snickering at times-and as it was “The Dallas Buyers Club” it was totally inappropriate.
The next morning my SO told me he’d heard me laughing in the night and then in the shower. I mean belly laughing! I even got in touch with a friend of mine that does film and commercial work to let him know I had a GREAT scene for him if he got any shampoo commercials! One night as my SO and I were getting ready to go somewhere, I made him wait for me. When he started telling me we were going to be late, I came out ready to go-dressed to the nines with a shower cap on my head! (we didn’t leave til I took it off!)
A few nights later, we had agreed to meet some friends for a drink before they caught a train back to Devon. As I was in the middle of watching a Chelsea game (this was a good year) I really didn’t want to go when the time came. But, I got up, got dressed and we went. They had chosen to sit outside! I could have just put my coat over my PJ’s and my boots on and gone. But outside we sat-right at a very busy spot on a Saturday night. Lots of people out and about. Needless to say, I started telling them my story. And, lo and behold! All of a sudden I saw the bottom of the the same full length mink coat, the same trousers. I looked up and it was her! No shower cap-not raining then. I told my friends it was her! And I followed her!
As I did, I noticed that her hair wasn’t quite so perfect and she wasn’t quite as self possessed as she had been when I first saw her. As a matter of fact, it was obvious that she’d been drinking- a lot- and she was going from place to place to get a table-which there weren’t any at that time of night. She looked bedraggled.
As my friend said, she was “in the breeze”. I think that’s the stage right before “3 Sheets to the Wind”.
At that point I saw her in a totally different light and haven’t laughed about it since.