February 26, 2009
Gretchen’s Lexus SUV comes lurching forward, swerving around a row of cars in park, and shudders to a halt as it hits the curb two feet from where I sit. Oh god, I think, taking a deep breath, here we go.
I can hear Gretchen before I can see her, her usually pretty-as-bells voice ringing out like a siren from the driver’s side as soon as the door opens. “No, I said petunias, not begonias! Begonias?! Are you a freaking moron?”
Gretchen steps around the front of the car, her iPhone pressed against her ear through her thick, lacquered blonde mane. She’s wearing huge black sunglasses and a black button-down shirt tucked into the tightest skinny jeans I’ve ever seen. And her heels – her heels are ridiculous yet impressive at the same time. I can’t ever imagine wearing shoes so tall and so pointy.
“Gretchen!” Mom sings out, opening her arms.
Gretchen smiles tightly and allows herself to be engulfed by my mom’s hug, her phone still pressed to her ear. Then she pulls away and turns back to the car. “Twenty tables of eight, not 10. Ten would be a disaster. A disaster. Write that down. Ugh.” Finally, she spins around and presses the phone up against her chest. “Sorry,” she mouths, giving me a silent wave. I awkwardly wave back. Then, like a boomerang, it’s right back up against her ear.
Mom and I look at each other, and Mom shrugs and begins picking up her bags. But I can’t move. I don’t know whether to be mad or embarrassed. Random people are now shooting evil looks in Gretchen’s direction as she begins to loudly rattle off a list of guest names. I can feel my face go red. She is ridiculous. After we just came so far to see her – to help her – she can’t even hang up her phone for two seconds. This is going to be worse than I ever even imagined.
Suddenly Gretchen stops talking, and I think for a second that she finally hung up the phone. “Bonnie! Oh, Bonnie – can you do me the biggest favor ever?”
Mom hoists her last bag onto her shoulder and looks up. “Of course dear. What do you need?”
“Can you drive? I have a conference call I’m already late for. Thanks so so so much!” And before the keys that Gretchen tosses in the air even reach my mother’s hands, she slides into the passenger seat and continues her conversation.