Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not so Ritzy Ritz

Our next stop was the Ritz Carlton which required a change of clothes. I hoped the silk blouse I brought would blend in with the elegance of our, soon to be, surroundings. We coasted into the parking lot.

I scoped out a secluded place under a shade tree and pulled into the designated spot. My plan was to change in the car which was, oh so, tacky but reflective of my ying and yang personality. Karen served as my lookout. I began yanking and tugging my t- shirt over my head while attempting to preserve some form of discretion. Once it slipped past my chin, I held it in front of what is commonly called racks, but in my case, would be more accurately described as miniscule shelves. I grabbed my blouse in the other hand and proceeded to clench, squeeze, and pack my flesh into it. It was not an easy job. In my youth I had much less mass to maneuver. At this age I felt as comfortable as an elephant seal attempting to slide across the shore.
We grabbed our purses and headed for the entry. I couldn’t believe that I was about to enter this region of royalty. Considering that the dining experiences of my youth consisted of eating at Newberry’s faux marble linoleum counter, I was mesmerized. Karen and I were dwarfed by the majestic arched ceilings. To the right and left of us were enormous planters containing larger than life tropical flowers of perfection. We wondered if they were changed daily, such opulence. The carpet was deep and rich in color. I expected that, any minute, someone might tap me on the shoulder and shout, “Imposter”, while escorting me out. Then I caught my image in the floor to ceiling mirror. UGH!!! It had to be an illusion. I know my girth has increased over the years, but not to that degree. Then I looked at Karen’s reflection which clearly indicated the images I perceived were, in fact, the real McCoy.

We stepped up to the hostess and gave her our name. While I felt confident at our previous two stops, here I hesitated. Yet I bravely stepped forward and announced with the same enthusiasm, “This is the first day of our retirement.” The hostess, who could be my granddaughter, responded with a vacuous look and replied, “That’s nice.” Then we were told that our table wasn’t ready yet, but we could have a drink and appetizer in the patio overlooking the ocean.
OK... so I wasn't successful at the not so ritzy Ritz. Who would have thought an organization dripping in obvious wealth could be so tight fisted in the light of our accomplishment. I would just have to drown my sorrows in a martini.
We continued down a corridor in pursuit of the patio. I half expected the Queen might make an entrance at any time. While playing out the details of my fantasy, I realized the pity of it all. Isn’t she still working? And how old is she anyway? Why that broad will never experience the grace of retirement while I am free to live a life of whimsy. So now who has the power?
A cool breeze greeted us as we entered an elegant outdoor patio. A martini seemed the perfect way to celebrate while enjoying the extravagant surroundings. Once we ordered our drinks, waves of pure joy washed over me. Up to this point, my life was locked into meeting my obligations. It seemed unbelievable our day of indulgences truly marked a transition into freedom. Freedom of opportunity and choice. I remarked to Karen, “Oh my god, the only pressure I will feel from now on will be self imposed. I certainly know how to manage that.” Then the waiter returned and set our raspberry and lemon martinis before us. We lifted our glasses and sealed our day long adventure with a customary clink and mouth-watering sip. Perfecto!