Peter Pan Alive at Penick Village
The Penick Village art show is one of my favorite events. Lovely art, de-lish food and good mingling — the show has it all.
The first time I went, though, had to have been the best. Credit goes to a spunky stranger who asked me for a favor.
“May I please borrow your napkin? My tooth just fell out,” Vera (not her real name) said to me.
I handed my napkin over incredulously. Surely, this was a joke. But no, Vera spit a tooth into my napkin, tucked it into her purse and then nonchalantly picked up her sushi roll and took a bite. Still chewing, she asked me where I was from, which I suddenly couldn’t remember because I was fixating on the tooth, root and all, that I had just seen come out of her mouth.
My encounter with Vera began because I knew no one at the event except my husband, and he was busy pouring drinks as a guest bartender. I felt awkward and went to the hors d’oeuvres station for a distraction. Not a good idea.
Besides the glass of pinot in one hand and plate in the other, I held the program booklet under my arm. The program kept sliding down against the silky top I wore. Because I didn’t have a free hand to slide the program back up, I dug my elbow tighter into my side for a firm hold. I looked like I was in the middle of a back spasm.
I eyed the small bar tables. No! Anything but eating alone at a cocktail party!
I mean, maybe you’re the kind of person who does that and feels free and independent. But me, doing something like that makes me envision a blinking neon loser sign over my head.
When the program had its way and plopped to the floor, my practical side prevailed and I acquiesced to loserdom at the table.
That’s when Vera — who presumably had a full head of teeth at this point in the evening — swooped in. She asked if she could share my table. I opened my mouth to say yes, but before I could speak, Vera inundated me with questions.
Vera, it turns out, was the Penick Village darling. Sharing a table with Vera was like having one popular kid in high school give you the thumbs up, thereby making it OK for the other kids to talk to you. Soon, the table was swarmed with the Penick resident cool kids.
They were talking about doctors’ appointments when Vera piped in.
“What I want to know,” she said, “is when did I become a pronoun?”
My confusion must have shown on my face because she was quick to explain.
“I go to the doctor, and the nurse asks my driver, ‘When did SHE start having symptoms?’ I go out to eat, and the waitress asks my daughter, ‘What would SHE like to eat?’” Vera said. “I want to yell, ‘I’m right here. Talk to ME!’ But I don’t.”
I asked why not.
“Because that would just be a bad attitude,” Vera replied, “and we should all keep a little Peter Pan in our lives.”
“You know, keep some of the child alive. Not take things too seriously,” she continued when I looked around the crowded reception area to see if there were posters of Peter Pan hanging somewhere. “Besides, just because the world thinks we’re old doesn’t mean we are.”
How true. It is one of life’s ironies that humans often see a disconnect between the person in the mirror and the person they feel inside. Me, I spend half the time feeling giddy that I have everybody fooled into thinking I’m a grown-up.
“Hee hee hee,” I giggle in my head. “They let me have a car! And a house! And I’m married! And I’m entrusted with the life of another human!”
The last one gets me the most. I still haven’t mastered holding a beverage in one hand and a plate in the other, and I get to be a parent? Amazing.
It seemed like no time before Patrick, freed from his bartending duties, came to the table.
“How are you?” he asked, concerned that I had been bored.
“I’m in Neverland!” I exclaimed, to which Patrick looked pointedly at my wine glass.
Nope, it wasn’t wine that sent me to Neverland. It was Vera.
Teeth or no teeth, I think I want to be just like Vera when I grow up.
Contact Melanie Coughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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