Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Incident at A Lecture

Last night we attended a lecture on the history of New Orleans jazz, given in a 2nd floor room at the Redondo Beach Library. The room itself is large and for the lecture, had rows of plastic and metal chairs set up with a wide aisle between two sections of seats. A long table held the professor's tools - a machine with a lighted face for transparent sheets of print/photos, a boom box and various papers. There were perhaps 25 to 30 people present, all middle aged or older.

I noticed a rather odd-looking lady. She was short, plump and walked with her head down and shoulders hunched -- like a turtle. Her masses of thick, black-going-grey hair hung down her back and formed wings shielding her downard-looking face. Unremarkable dark slacks and top and a bright blue warm-up jacket that hung down off of her shoulders, nearly to her knees.

The woman in the row ahead of me and slightly to my left had excellent posture and sat up attentively, listening and looking at the displays on the screen. All seemed to be going well until the lecturer threw up a screen with a lot of much smaller printing on it.

"Crazy Lady" got up, crept up the main aisle and stood, staring at the words, making them out.

The woman in front of me grew impatient, stood up, walked up the aisle to Crazy Lady and hissed something at her, spun on her heel and returned to her seat. Crazy Lady ignored whatever had been said to her, and took her time, leisurely continuing to read.

Finally she turned and began walking back to her seat and as she passed Impatient Lady, she abruptly stopped, reached out and snapped the fingers of her right hand about six inches away from Impatient Lady's hairline! Impatient Lady reacted by jerking her head back, letting her mouth drop open and a whispered "...see that?" to the woman next to her.

Having delivered her scorn, Crazy Lady continued down the aisle to her seat.

I was stunned at the insolence of the gesture and the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I'd seen it before somewhere... where? Where?

This morning, I finally remembered. In the pages of Kathleen Winsor's book, "Forever Amber." Amber St. Claire was forever rousting flirtatious gentlemen with a snip of her fingers at his chest and the words, "Marry come up, sir!" indignantly.

Crazy Lady must have been a fan. For all I know, she could have been saying, "Marry come up, you little Madam!" But, trust me -- she was no Amber St. Claire.

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