About a year ago, my friend Terry invited me to join a small group of her friends who meet once a month for lunch at a local bakery café. I have never been inclined to be part of something that meets on a regular basis – like a yoga class or a Zumba class. Reluctant at first, I accepted Terry’s offer. She’s such a lovely person, I felt, so her friends must be equally wonderful.
A year later, I realize the terrific dynamic of our “Group of Six,” as I like to call us. We’re all professionals, some self-employed, some retired, or about to retire. And some of us have grown children. In other words, we’ve been there, done that.
Pre-Covid, we sat snugly at the largest table in the small café. It’s heartwarming to be greeted with warm smiles as we make room at the table with each arrival. We buy our own lunches at the counter. Sometimes someone returns to the table with fresh-baked cookies for everyone.
A most memorable lunch was when I told the ladies about a dress I had picked up at a liquidation sale at the Balian Mansion in nearby Altadena. But I didn’t see it until the second day I went to the sale. This time I went with my friend Teresa who was keen to see the pink mansion before it would close “forever.”
We went upstairs to the master bedroom and saw the clothes rack, which the day before was full. People were swarming the room looking for buried treasure. About three items were left on the rack, including an elegant purple dress with draping silk chiffon and exquisite bead work. The dress had a price tag of $25. Teresa figured no one bought it because the size is so small. Then she looked at me.
“You think that will fit me?” I asked. Where would I wear it? The Academy Awards? What the heck. For $25, I have nothing to lose.
So, at check-out in the foyer, I handed the lady the dress, which didn’t have a price tag. “I’ll charge you $10. It’s the last day of the sale.” Teresa and I looked at each other incredulously. What a steal. When I tried on the dress at home, it fit like a glove – a Cinderella moment for sure.
At the next gathering of the Group of Six, I showed a photo of the dress to the ladies (Alison, Linda S., Karen, Linda H. and Terry). They couldn’t believe my find. When Linda H. spotted the label, she said, “That’s from Bergdorf Goodman in New York!”
New Year’s Eve was approaching. We usually spend the holiday at home, but this time we decided to celebrate the new decade with dinner at Shiro, an intimate dining spot in South Pasadena. Jacqueline said, “Mom, you must wear the purple dress!” You think? I wondered if it might be too dressy. I had to buy shoes to match. Bingo, on my first shopping attempt, I found the perfect pair – purple beaded satin sandals that weren’t stilettos. I showed a photo of the shoes to the Group of Six. They wholeheartedly approved. They were like my sisters helping me dress for the prom.
At Shiro’s only a few holdouts were left waiting for the clock to strike midnight. The restaurant was almost empty, but with our New Year’s hats and horns, we danced on the invisible dance floor -- until we were the only ones left.
Without Teresa, Jacqueline -- and the Group of Six – I might not know the magic of The Purple Dress.
Alas, it was just a few weeks ago that the group met for the first time since the start of the pandemic – and only three of us were able to make it. I look forward to the whole group reuniting in August. But for the unforeseeable future, we will meet at a park, we will wear masks, and we will sit six feet apart.