The dress I wore in Monaco was maybe my favourite to date. Better even than my own wedding dress, that, at the time, suited the beach-theme, flowed perfectly through the gusting winds and hugged all of the right parts of my twelve year old boys body.
But Monaco…that dress was the best. It was silver. I have daydreamed over several years that I would have a house made of stainless steel. All of the furniture would be chrome, some shiny, some matte. The commercial kitchen would sparkle with silver, my jewellery would be platinum, metallic walls, wrought iron bed frames etc. etc. Back to the dress.
It was made by a Canadian designer and sold at a quaint little local clothing shop. I loved the detailing. Cream coloured leaves with tiny pearl beads along the bottom third of the dress. I loved it because it was different and not just another black dress which we all know start to look exactly the same after a couple of glasses of bubbly.
Unfortunately for me, I had perhaps a less than proud moment while wearing my new favourite silver dress the night of our ‘welcome to Monaco reception.’ We had arrived earlier that day, on a trip paid for by my husband’s company in recognition of the top sales people for the prior year, but seemed more to be an arranged “boy’s club” of colleagues who had become friends and wanted an excuse to go drinking on the company dime for a week in an absolutely spectacular setting.
I was more than happy to tag along and surround myself with all of the luxuries I so clearly deserved.
How could I have known that my efforts to leap frog my husband’s career over dozens of other sales reps could be squashed in just one short conversation with Bonnie? I was introduced to Bonnie Mac, my husband’s boss’s boss’ wife over a tray of smoked salmon. Ron Mac is someone that my husband speaks highly of, yet in his presence, speaks as if he’s addressing a King and not in fact another man who happens to work for the same company but makes considerably more money with a fancier title.
Bonnie has a small frame, the cutest bob hair-cut, lovely skin and plays the role of the boss’s wife better than many I’ve met. Quiet, demure, polite, welcoming. Why I thought this would be a good time to tell the C.F. story and potentially damage any chance at a promotion my husband might have after spending a full week chumming with the higher ups is beyond me.
I blame my silver dress. My silver dress gave me so much confidence, I felt indestructible. The more compliments I got, the more I began to cross that line from idle chit-chat to raunchy, inappropriate stories about friends in high school or the time my friends ate the pieces of the children’s game Operation during a drinking game. Where was that industrial style silver house now so that I could crawl into a locker and suffocate?
Our conversation shifted from the mundane, where do you live, do you have any children, hobbies/interests to a specific category of discussion. The ladies all seemed to have something in common and that was how prim and proper their mothers were and how we allow our children to get away with so much more than we were ever allowed.
And then it happened. Mothers? Prim and proper? The shift from then to now? Ahh yes, it was the perfect time to round-up an audience for the C.F. story.
And so it began. Having indulged in my second glass of champagne, half a tray of foie gras and did I mention I was sporting my silver shield? I began.
“When I was in high school (I was likely shouting at this point in the story to gain as much attention as I possibly could which is a problem I have and one my close girlfriends often have to remind me to use my inside voice), my mother heard me talking on the phone to a girlfriend. We had come up with a code to describe a rather undesirable group of girls who did nothing but chase, seduce and ultimately sleep with teenage hockey players. The local hockey team name was The Cullitons and so, with our lack of creativity, we nicknamed these girls…and I’m not proud of this….Cully F******s, but C.F. for short so that our parents would never know what or to whom we were referring. It gave our teenage rumour mill a chance to raise the bar and really put one past our ever so naïve parents.
I watched Bonnie’s eyes become wide and her eyebrows raise to just beyond her widow’s peak. Little did she know, I was just warming up.
I glanced at my husband who was engaged in a conversation about all of the great activities we were going to embark on for the rest of our stay, the long flight and a few loose ends about work. He took interest in the fact that I was now the centre of attention in this group of women and appeared to listen with one ear while trying to focus on his own peers and how he might get a raise at the end of the week if his wife wasn’t such a complete knob.
When he realized what story I was telling, he nervously smiled and shook his head while looking at his feet.
If I could get inside my husband’s head, he was probably thinking the following. Had my wife ended my career on our first night on a trip that I worked my ass off to win because she re-told the most unthinkable story to of all people, the wife of a guy who is more than two levels my senior and is the sole decision maker as to whether I have a future with this company? Well when I put it that way, there really is no excuse.
I felt his disapproval but really had no way to get out of finishing the story because I was too far in and everyone was loving me and wanting more. We were in Monaco! A time to celebrate! Anything goes! Silver dress save me!
My thighs began to sweat and I was forced to spread my legs ever so slightly so that the water wouldn’t pool and ultimately drip down my leg, causing a splash off of my big toe only to ricochet onto Bonnie Mac’s train and salt stain her gown.
My Mother told me there was no reason to speak to my friends in code, that she wasn’t as naïve as I thought she was and knew exactly what C.F. meant so I could stop pretending I was pulling the wool over her eyes.
“Mom, you have no idea what C.F. means,” I grinned. I was a teenager, I knew everything.
“Elizabeth, I know exactly what you are saying.” Insulted, she continued to peruse the daily Beacon all the while, encouraging me to test her so that she could shout out Cullie F*****r and emerge victorious in this battle of cryptic immaturity.
“Go ahead Mom, let’s hear it.”
She pressed her lips together as hard as she could as she often did when she was angry. They became white, wrinkled and puffed her upper lip to almost envelop her nostrils.
And then she blurted it out. The most unthinkable name I could ever imagine a woman who had birthed four children, been a homemaker and run a successful bed and breakfast to theatre patrons from across North America.