Natalie calls me on the road returning from Albany. I'm getting ready for bed.
"I didn't make it to the semi-finals, I didn't win Ma."
"Well that's OK," and I mean it. I really really mean it.
"I don't mind. I had a terrific time. I think I'll do it next year. I need a real evening gown. The one you loaned me, just doesn't make me look like a Barbie doll."
"Nah, I guess my hand-me-down dress I got from an opera star who last fit into it in the 1980s just isn't the right stuff."
"Nah, but it is a nice dress, just not beauty pageant league. The semi-finalists had amazing gowns."
"Yeah, when Jada painted my portrait in it I looked pretty good in red velvet too, but I don't fit in it anymore, too many meals between then and now."
"Look Ma, I haven't eaten since 9 am and I'll be passing by on my way back to college, I have a rehearsal I have to make tonight. Do you think you could run me down a bite to eat?"
"You'll never believe it, when your sister left this morning to go back to her college she forgot the bag of left over thanksgiving food your father and stepmother prepared. She was so sad she forgot the food. Perfect though, how about Jim makes you a turkey sandwich and we'll fill a plate with the stuffing, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce?"
"Oh wow, that would be great, I'm just making the turn off the George Washington Bridge."
So she double parks outside our door, I bring her the platter of food, a bottle of water, and sit in the car as she devours the meal. I am wearing my blue cloud pajamas disguised under my long winter coat. She still has on the make up and her hair is swept back in a do. She looks brilliantly lovely if you just don't watch her chew too closely. Sort of a feeding frenzy really.
"So what did you like about being at the pageant?"
"I loved being able to wear high heels and not feel self-conscious. It was OK to be that tall. I had a great roommate. She was fun to talk to. I loved having people do my hair and make up. People took photos of me on my camera. They're selling an expensive package of photos from the event, but I think my shots will be fine."
"How did the interviews go?"
"I think most of the judges enjoyed talking to me. They all asked about my time in India. I described the terrible poverty I saw there, how it made me realize how much we have here. One of them asked me why I was at the pageant after an experience like that. I said this was just the complete opposite. I didn't have time to expand on it, the interview was only a minute, but there is something about the contrast, I'll have to write about it..."
Delicately belching, she wipes her face and asks me to tell Jim the sandwich was delicious and we are awesome to provide a drive-through dinner spot for her.
After many hugs and an "I love you guys" she drives East leaving me enveloped in a whiff of her perfume. What shall I call it, eau du no regrets?