Fond, and not so Fond, Memories of Accessories – Tiaras and Bobby Socks!
Bras, shoes, purses and wedding dresses! I can certainly relate to Nora and Delia Ephron’s play, “Love, Loss and What I Wore” about women’s stories of joy, frustration and sorrow shared by their accessories at a given moment in time. I was hesitant to invite Dr. DeFelice to join me to see the last performance of their play, but he always stressed the importance of Aristotle’s quote to “observe, observe, observe” plus he loves the company of women more than men! Although he is a distinguished physician, he has always been an inspired writer. His Italian born father told him he would starve as a writer and should pursue a medical degree. He did, but still has the writer’s passion. His first novel, Old Italian Neighborhood Values, is full of wit and wisdom.
I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon in 1952, supposedly the luckiest year, and had the “pleasure” of turning 60 last January 27th. Although I was dreading the day, it turned out to be one of the best ever. My new favorite accessory is a beautiful crystal tiara! My large group of girlfriends from Skidmore College get together on an annual basis for a weekend of sentimental fun. At a previous gathering at my friend Suzi’s sprawling estate outside of Atlanta, I packed an extra suitcase full of pink plastic tiaras and pink buckets and beads from Party City (happy and cheap accessories!) to give to all of the girls. We looked great in our pink plastic tiaras and dropped our dream bucket lists into the pink buckets for posterity. Much to my surprise, Suzi flew to New York to meet my sister Nancy and my friend Cindy in from California, for a birthday luncheon for me at Rockefeller Center. She presented me with a real crystal tiara and I felt my personality change immediately once I crowned myself! I sincerely recommend tiara therapy to everyone. I wore mine morning, noon and night for the next three days!
My tiara sparkled as we waited in the VIP line at NBC after lunch to share more laughter at a taping of Jimmy Fallon Live thanks to my sister’s good friend, Jane Hanson, co-host of NBC’s New York Live program airing at 3 p.m. every day. Jane had to go on assignment out of town so she couldn’t be with us. I forgot to mention my other unforgettable accessory. My sister has her own promotion business, www.Zauwie.com, and she designed and produced pink tee-shirts for us with a Dragon Diva logo over a black dragon – quite a fashion statement!
Jane had made a dinner reservation for us at Fresco, owned by her friends, the simpatica Scotto family. When we got there I was amazed to find nine more girlfriends inside who had traveled by train and by car from afar and were wearing the signature pink tee-shirts and ready to party! We captured the spirit of the entire restaurant and other diners were approaching our table asking what we were celebrating, why we were so happy and even if we were breast cancer survivors because of the pink tees. Many women wanted to buy our tee-shirts! What particularly struck me was a young girl in her early 20s who actually was brought to tears saying that she was so impressed by our 42 year friendships and hoped that she would have the same at our advanced age of 60 or almost 60!
After dinner, we were a posse of pink on Madison Avenue and ran into a handsome posse of Scots in kilts celebrating Robert Burns’ birthday at the Caledonian Club. We both stopped in our tracks to admire each other. We made the important discovery that the Scots only wear talcum powder under their kilts! No accessories! My sister and I got a bit teary thinking of our Scottish ancestry and our dear departed dad who loved wearing his Royal Stuart plaid tartan vest and pants and listening to bagpipers playing Scotland the Brave. We event thought about joining the club to meet those handsome Scots!
The next morning we went back to Rockefeller Plaza and stood on the plaza with other fans outside The Today Show. We carried the dozen pink roses my friends had given me (a nice accessory!) and caught the attention of the curious cute weatherman who decided to interview us on air. I gave him a rose of gratitude! I was on national television and now everyone in my life knows the semi-well kept secret that I am 60! My 20 year old son once asked me as a child, “Mom, shouldn’t I be older or you be younger?” Oh, well.
Back to Nora and Delia’s play, now that I have shared the importance of the tiara accessory! During the play I noticed Dr. DeFelice taking notes in true Aristotelian style. After the play, he wondered why men were portrayed so poorly. I hadn’t really thought about it because I was amused by the different stories and could relate to them. Dr. DeFelice, where are the good guys? In Italy? Happy endings at the play were few. Is marriage doomed? I got divorced when my son was two and can really relate to Nora’s autobiographical script of “Heartburn”. I was pleased to learn that she is happy in her third marriage and that her six word memoir is “Secret to Success, Marry an Italian!” What six words would you choose?
Nora captures the healing power of humor when describing life’s ups and downs. I loved her two books and have given them to friends who need a little “perking up”. My friends and I all had good and bad stories to share – some have battled disease, divorce, some are widows, some are single, some have had hip replacements and breast enlargements and some are grandmas! I am not sharing names! Laughter has gotten us through the good, the bad and the ugly since we met as freshmen in college in 1970 – 42 years ago!
I did a little research and found Nora was born in 1941, the Year of the Snake and graduated from the then all female Wellesley College. Dr. DeFelice was born in 1936, the Year of the Rat and was a graduate of the all male prestigious Central High School in Philadelphia and the last all male class at Jefferson Medical College. I graduated from Skidmore College’s last all female year in 1974 so I think we share certain perspectives, if not accessories.
I was thinking about what accessories would have memories for men. Dr. DeFelice writes about his shoe shine box as a young boy trying to earn money to help his family and his stethoscope as a young physician, the first in his family to graduate from medical school let alone college. It seems men of his generation value accessories that remind them of their education and achievements where I think women’s memories of accessories are more related to emotion and relationships – good or bad!!
I would like to share a short story as an example. About a decade ago Dr. DeFelice and I were waiting to meet a colleague at Le Cirque restaurant in New York. He was sitting in the lounge when in walked Bill Cosby, also a graduate of the competitive all boys’ Central High School. Dr. DeFelice jumped up and started singing their alma mater, “Dear High, Dear Central High”. Bill Cosby not only joined in singing but ran over to hug him and show him he was wearing his Barnwell Honor Roll Pin on his blazer. Quite an impressive accessory that says a lot! Dr. DeFelice wears his Jefferson Medical School ring but also still has his Barnwell pin at home. They were at Central at the same time and this exceptional school made a big difference in their life paths. Even Barack Obama’s controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright, went to Central!
My most traumatic accessory memory occurred in the 6th grade. I was an obedient student who always followed the rules, but one day I decided to break out of the box and wear panty hose instead of bobby sox! I was sent to the principal’s office and told to go back home and put on the socks! That was my minor accessory rebellion that I will never forget.
I am back reading my autographed copy of “I Feel Bad About My Neck” that I received when Nora came to an MKA Book Fair at my son’s school. She enchanted the mostly female audience.
I would like to invite our readers to comment on their favorite memories through accessories plus create their six word bio. Mine is a favorite proverb from a Sicilian friend…tutto a posto, niente in ordine…everything is ok but nothing is in order!
And finally, I was just reading an article by Barbara Hoffman in Sunday’s N.Y. Post that begins “Dust off your tiaras! Today’s the start of National Princess Week!” Julie Andrews is in town with her daughter and granddaughter to celebrate this first annual event. Look for me around town in my tiara!