When the time was right, Auntie Mame rushed up to me, giving off an almost palpable cloud of My Sin, flowing clothes rustling. Not silk, but silky. "I'm wearing this crazy hat because it was the Women's Club Derby Day luncheon over at the Green Valley Resort." I responded how very nice that must have been for her, and I said her hat was certainly unparalleled. "Do you own the LBD?" Curious, I responded that I owned that wardrobe staple, the little black dress, in several colors, both long and very, very short. "How about really good shoes? Beautiful shoes?" Um, sure. WTF? It occurred to me that she may be about to ask if she could borrow from my closet and I was working on a gentle rebuff like, "Well, I'm not sure that any of my things would be your . . . taste." Sure, taste! For Auntie Mame is not only bright and loud, she is large, and I knew a proper fit for her was unlikely in my possession. "Tomorrow night, your friend . . . . " Aha! That was it. That's how it goes in Las Vegas. I should have seen it coming.
Las Vegas is home to many thousands of people who stage, set up, serve and execute events for a relatively few wealthy, cultured, influential denizens. In most cases, servers are required to appear as well turned out as the gentlemen guests in dinner jackets, whether they are busing tables or bringing the Mercedes up from the valet lot. Oh, to be sure, sometimes those who serve have to borrow the threads or be provided such as a "uniform". Sometimes they punch up their English-speaking skills at classes provided by "the house" after work hours. But damn, they look good! Las Vegas is all about appearances. The show must go on. For truly fine, catered events, "hostesses" and the like may be hired from agencies that ensure these people have all the polish desired, or the good women of "the guild" or the "ladies society" or the "boosters" beg help from their circle of acquaintances, hoping their own judgment of talent is on the mark. Payment for an evening of service is typically something like a free whirl through the best buffet in the venue, two hours before show time, and a chance to rub elbows with "a good sort" of people. At "showtime", the helpers mix with the crowd, smoothing, facilitating. They wear no name tags to say "Hey, I'm the help!" Sometimes partygoers believe such persons to be guests, just like themselves.
My friend began to elbow me in the ribs, grinning, nodding her head ever so slightly. Mame continued on, breathlessly, " . . it benefits the scholarship fund for the Opera Theatre . . the mayor, Steve Wynn . . I'm only asking the very loveliest ladies whom I know I can rely upon . .". Oh, boy. She had selected me to be a kind of opera-fan hooker. Purchased (for the price of a decent-enough meal), to run errands or perform honey-do's. I don't even like opera (mostly). I was likely to guffaw into the faces of the people I resembled as I mingled. Girlfriend started in on me quietly from my side: "I don't do well at finding my way through these huge resorts and you're a pathfinder. Sometimes they give you a $100 voucher for gaming after the event. (I don't do that, either.) I don't drive well in the dark. Sometimes you meet people who can help you in your career." Hmm. Girlfriend's career includes such things as stage acting and opera. She would be likely to meet other like-minded individuals. I, on the other hand, the wordsmith locked up untidily and unattractively in my little aerie of a studio . . . probably not.
My new life program points out to me regularly that I've not done a stellar job of designing my life's events. Sometimes it is good to sit quietly and let opportunities present themselves. And then make good use of them, within comfortable boundaries. "OK, Mame, here's the deal. I will not dance with anyone who has spent the afternoon selecting his clothing focused on meeting only me. I will not stand in a line of other women to be auctioned off for any purpose. I will not serve any food or drinks. (I am not too good for this. I am simply not good at it.) Do not holler 'Honey' or 'Sweetheart' at me across the floor. I will assist with showing the high end art, jewelry, spa and travel packages you have for auction. I have no problem collecting cash and credit cards and keeping orderly records. I do not speak opera." Extending her paw with red-lacquered claws, she said in a distinctly Ms. Everyday tone, "Welcome aboard. Thank you."
So we're driving home, Girlfriend and I. "Did you set that up?" My tone was a little accusatory. "No, I swear. You only made slight mention of having chaired some big events and her antennae came out. She was already worried whether I could handle the auction alone, and you dropped into her lap." She asked me what I would wear. "I don't know yet. It's already really hot, but the ballroom will be frigid with the air conditioning." What shoes, she wanted to know. "Hmm . . not certain. We'll have to walk miles, no doubt." A huge cheeser broke across my face. "You notice I didn't even have to check my DayPlanner in order to be there in fewer than 24 hours." Yes, Girlfriend noticed and didn't think any less of me for that. "I wonder if I look like some pathetic old bag who keeps her dress-up clothes well dusted and at the ready, just in case . . . " No, no. Girlfriend would never have thought that, but only that I take good care of my belongings. "Will you take a purse? They always get in the way and require some place to be stowed." I told her I'd carry a purse. Where else does someone store her spare pair of pantyhose, fragrance and makeup for freshening up? Oh. Girlfriend hadn't thought of that. She's younger and a much freer spirit than I.
Something that charmed me: She asked if I carried those towelettes in my purse, too - the ones one uses if there are spills on the clothes. "No, I'm not that bad!" She looked relieved. What? They don't work. They just smear the spill around. I made room for other possible necessities in my purse that work.