The Setting: The Peninsula Hotel lounge in Beverly Hills. Chic. Cloistered. Peopled with gorgeous women of a certain age (35+). My dear friend Glenna and I were also women of a certain age, but we weren't high-end call girls like these ladies. We were stay-at-home moms out stealing a moment of martini-tippling glamour away from our families.
The Characters: We became anthropological voyeurs, observing the gorgeous ladies sitting alone in the Peninsula bar with a drink and a Cioppino before them, wearing tasteful Jones of New York blouses, conservatively slit skirts and figure-flattering dresses, some of them wore delicate silk scarves draping their decolletage.
The Action: Eventually men-in-suits would appear at their tables and offer to buy their drink and dinner, then, with little fanfare, the newly minted and soon-to-be-over couple would head toward the hotel elevators to transact their business in some well-appointed suite upstairs.
It never occurred to me that Glenna and I could be mistaken for being two of these ladies -- or even simply mistaken for women who were available for romance. We did, after all, arrive at the valet in my besoiled Toyota Sienna mini-van (once a love-site for my hubby and me during a role-playing event) and our clothes were from Target with nary a polyester scarf to molest our collar bones.
Then one night at the Peninsula I noted two gentlemen eyeing Glenna and me from a neighboring table. We'll call them The Accountant and The Silver Fox. As his pseudonym suggests The Silver Fox was north of 55 and one of those men who age magnificently. An athletic build, sparkling blue eyes, a real looker.
The quintessential Silver Fox.
At one point I had to run to the bathroom and told Glenna that under absolutely no circumstances was she to make eye contact with either of these gentlemen or they would certainly end up at our table. Glenna has a big heart, unlike me, the cast-iron bitch.
When I returned I can't say I was surprised to see both men flanking a flustered Glenna at our table. I scowled disapprovingly at her as she shrugged helplessly. I internally scorned her for wearing such a masterful bra. Usually Glenna and I could be counted upon to wear "dead" bras that provided very little relief from gravity. But Glenna was wearing an exuberantly "alive" bra and had obviously been to Miss Stevens Intimates (now defunct) on Olympic and Beverly Drive where a toothless German woman named Beatta would measure and fit you in a brassiere to within an inch of your life.
But I digress.
I approached my slatternly friend and her new companions and, having quaffed the perfect alchemy of vodka and vermouth, the first words out of my mouth were, "Gentlemen, you should know that we are both happily married women who may be in sexual stasis, but are nonetheless faithful and grateful to our husbands for marrying us despite intermittent bitchery, so if you're looking for dates, we're not it and your penises will be very disappointed.
If, however, you just want to have a friendly conversation that would be fine." (I might have left out the part about the penises, but it was inferred.)
I'd put them in an awkward spot. If they left at the moment they would reek of man-slut. So they stayed and we four chatted pleasantly. But at one juncture The Silver Fox -- who was divorced with grown kids -- asked me if I had a single sister or friend? Not that old chestnut, I thought. But for some reason a friendly acquaintance from my mom's group came to mind.
Patty was a single mom to her young son whose father had passed away. I mentioned Patty to The Silver Fox and he asked if he could have my phone number so we could set up a meeting between the two of them.
I was suspicious, but gave him my phone number anyway, then was distracted by something Glenna was talking about.
"Did you give me your home phone number?" asked Foxy, a moment later, a strained expression on his face.
"Yes," I replied.
"I just called it and I think your husband answered and I hung up." Apparently Foxy wanted to make sure I hadn't given him a fake phone number and now I was going to have some 'splaining to do when I got home.
There are many ways in which this story could end. I could've chewed Foxy out for still hitting on me when I was absolutely direct about my situation. Henry could've chewed me out for giving a stranger our home phone number. I could've become a complete idiot and run off with Foxy to Marrakesh leaving behind all who love me while in the throes of a peri-menopausal madness spiked with Twinkies.
But none of those things happened.
The Denouement: What did happen is Patty and Foxy went on a date. And then another date. And another. And then they moved in together. And then they got married and Foxy legally adopted Patty's boy as his own.
The other day, as I was dashing from a movie theater to the bathroom mid-screening, I ran into Patty, Foxy and their boy coming out of an adjacent theater.
The three of them were still laughing about the film they'd just seen, palpably connected and sweet. I felt a little Christlike in that moment and quite full of myself and my goodliness when Patty spotted me. Her face lit up, "Thank you!" she yelled as I waved and dashed by. "You're welcome," I cried, and then went into the bathroom and peed.
Life is magic, people. It's magic. You just never know what will happen when you give a man who isn't your husband your phone number. It may change a life.