Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Expanding Your Horizons, Ernie Baxter, and the Show

'Miss' Ella was having her usual tea on Tuesday with Rayanne.  Grice took their order. "Rayanne, you always order the same thing. You need to expand your horizons."

"Ella, you're one to talk. I don't think black tea with lemon and 2 scones is very adventuresome."

"That is not true. I never know what type of scone they will be serving, so my order is different every time."  

Ella paused. "Oh seriously. Don't tell me you are still peeved about that night of our senior cotillion?" Ella stopped buttering her biscuit and looked at Rayanne, "Why do you bring that up anytime you are out sorts?"

" 'Out of sorts'? I'm not 'out of out of sorts'."

"You can't fool me."

Just then Grice brought their tea and pastries to table. Rayanne looked over at Ella's plate. "Oh, we are living on the edge. What could be more adventuress than Blue Berry scones?"

"Don't try to revise  history. You know good and darn well that Ernie Baxter never gave you the time of day. He had planned to ask me to the dance for weeks."

"Well, he hadn't done it yet, had he?" Rayanne said as she added sugar to her tea.

"Of course he hadn't. The invitations didn't go out until 2 weeks before the dance." Then just before she took her first bite of her scone, she added. "You never knew his mother, Dottie Baxter. She was the most proper lady, I ever met. Do you know she still had a silver tray in her entry way, where callers could leave their personal cards with the proper corner turned down."

"I never understood 'calling cards'. No one had used them since the beginning of the 20th century, must less when we were in school."

"Oh, I think we should still use them," Ella took a sip of her tea. "Think how nice it would be to just leave your card instead of having to visit everyone you were calling on."

"Well first, why would you be 'calling' on someone, when you never planned to see them." She paused and added, "Besides, how many people have service these days to answer the door and take the cards."

"Oh, Rayanne, it's very simple. If you wanted to congratulate one, the left upper corner would be folded. It would also indicate a visit in person (as opposed to being sent by a servant)."

"When was the last time you had 'servants'? And, no, Fanny, your family domestic does not count."

"Oh Rayanne, you get so caught up in the details."

"Pray tell what difference it makes to 'turn down the proper corner'?"

Ella poured some more tea into her cup. "It's fairly simple. To indicate you want to visit, the right hand upper corner is folded. To pay your respects, you would leave a card with the lower left hand hand corner folded. If you wanted to let them know you were taking a long trip, you would fold the right hand lower corner.' 

"I still say that is archaic."

"Well, archaic or not, it was the proper way to call on someone." She paused and gently wiped her lips with the corner of her napkin. "The only reason Ernie was paying attention to you was the amount of champagne punch you had had."  She paused again, "He felt sorry for you. He carried you back the dorm to keep from embarrassing yourself.  Then you told everyone he had asked you to the cotillion."

"Of course he did. I would never forget something like that."

"Do you remember how you got home?"

"Certainly not. That many years ago? You can't imagine I would remember that?"

"True. Rayanne we had to sneak you in past the Miss Ruby, that old bat. You think that was easy?" Ella laughed, "I had Mary Jane Magillycutty helping me. She was convinced she was going to get to thrown out of school."

"Well, what would expect, she always was a silly biddie."

"The truth is that I was trying to keep you from making a fool of yourself." Ella took another bite of her scone. "Besides, Matthew Murray asked you to the dance."

"What difference does that make?"

"Oh, come on, that was your first date with him."

Rayanne was quiet for a while. Then she laughed, "Okay, I will admit that it turned out  pretty well."

"Pretty well? 40 years of marriage!"

"But I still was furious with you over Ernie."

Ella was laughing by this time. "Well, I never have admitted it before, but Ernie Baxter was dull - absolutely no fun at all. So you came out ahead there."

Now that they had that 45 year old tift settled, they carried on with news and gossip. "Oh, Ella, at Colleen's funeral, you should have seen all her friends from Mobile. They were quite a crew."

"Oh, no doubt they were devastated. Colleen was so wonderful."

"She was, but, they were a little 'much' don't you think? It's just that I haven't seen a group ladies dressed like they were."

"Do tell?"

"Well they had on these high heel shoes. Most were wearing outrageous hats. One even had a veil over face." She took a sip of her tea. "Don't get me wrong, they were all wearing black."

"I imagine they were good friends, especially to come all the way from Mobile."

Rayanne buttered another biscuit. "I say wearing black - one had this wide magenta sash." She laughed, "And one had this chartreuse bow attached to the back of her black dress that trailed down to the floor."

"I'm really sorry I missed the show."

"Show? It was a funeral."

"Of course but anywhere these 'ladies' go, it is a show."

"What? I don't understand."

"Rayanne, those were drag queens."

"Drag queens? What are you talking about?"

"My guess is, those were Colleen's best friends -they are transvestites?"

"Trans - what?"

"Those were not ladies. Those were men dressed as ladies. I imagine some of them live like women. They were there to support Colleen."

"I don't understand?"

"Colleen was once a man. Surely you knew that?"

"A man? But she was so graceful, so proper, yet fun." She paused, "Oh dear, did Haynes know?"

"Yes, and it was not a problem with him. He loved her dearly."

Rayanne started to say something, but Ella stopped her, "That was between the 2 of them."

"Oh, of course, certainly not . . " Rayanne said very hesitantly. "I just wondered . . . ?"


"Well, haven't you ever wondered . . ."

"That is living on the edge!"

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