07 May 2008

The Trad Woman

C.Z. Guest circa 1956. Man- O- Manischewitz. No dyed hair and nail extensions here.

Years ago in Manhattan (I should rename this blog, Remembering the 80's), I was walking with a friend and as we approached the Sherry Netherland Hotel I saw a woman exiting the lobby with the doorman leading and hailing a cab.

We were next to her when the doorman opened the taxi door. I'm pretty sure it was a Checker. Mid 50's in a Chanel suit with a short skirt. Hermes scarf. Her hair was up. Beautiful legs and the same face as C.Z. but just a little older. Walking by, I took off my Ray Ban Aviators, looked her in the eye and said, "I think I'm in love." She smiled at me and said, "I'd break your heart." She got in the cab and as the doorman closed the taxi door he looked at me and laughed...that NY kind of laugh. Like New Yorkers laugh when they see someone slip and fall on ice or fail as a hedge fund manager. You know what it sounds like.

Fast forward a lot of years to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. I'm in a class on early 19th Century furniture with the "then" wife. She had a thing for the Federal Period. I was always fond of the late 18th Century but that's another story. Has anyone figured out I use a template for writing these posts? No? Anyway, things were not the best between us then despite 13 years of trying and earlier in the day she commented that I would wind up with a wife in her mid to late 20s pushing a baby carriage in Lincoln Park and looking like all those other old farts in their 40's doing the second go around.

In the front of the class are two older women (mid50's) wearing embroidered slippers. One with Napoleon Bees and I can't remember what was on the other pair. The one with the Bees's, a perky blonde with a Bob'ed cut and a starched Brooks Brother's stripe OCBD-- unbuttoned one button too far says, "How will humidity affect the veneer of say, tiger stripe maple in a climate like Palm Beach?"

I leaned over to my then wife and whispered, "Don't sweat the 25 year olds. That..." I pointed to the Bees, "is what you need to worry about."


longwing said...

Some women mature very well. A lot of it is money, but not all. I've known a few with very little money that did alright. Never been able to put my finger on it, but I've always wanted to.

initials CG said...

Yeah, it's money...but it's also determination to remain feminine.

Sofia Loren (still eye candy in her 70's) wrote a book in the late 70's or early 80's about feminine beauty. She shows how a woman can remain not only beautiful but also sexy as she matures. It was in italian and I cant remember the title.

Italian women have had centuries to develop feminine skills...they have become dangerous creatures.

Remembering the 80's: the Stranglers "European female"...

Reggie said...

Hot story!

Years ago (back in the 70s) while an undergraduate at Yale I worked at reunions to make some cash before heading off for the summer. One year working at the class of 1931 reunion (motto was "'31 Has More Fun!" -- and they did) I was struck by the fact that the wives (in their 60s and 70s) who (a) took care of themselves, (b) made an effort, and (c) kept it natural, looked really good (in some cases REALLY good) vs the wives who had too much plastic surgery, wore "mutton dressed as lamb" clothes, etc., who looked weird and "un-dead" to me (still do). Living in NYC today I am always glad (and very appreciative) when I see an attractive mature woman such as you described who revels in her beauty rather than resorting to unflattering surgery and age-inapproprate clothes. And as you point out, they can be verrry hot!

tintin said...

Lwing, Not to worry. Lots of DVDs and books that tell you where it is so you can put your finger on it.

cg, I would make the argument the Italians simply know how to live life. Better than Americans by a long shot.

reggie, that "keep it natural" really sums it up for me. What is with these nail extensions? Really bizarre and frequently seen in Philadelphia amongst (oddly enough) women of Italian descent. What an irony.

Alice Olive said...

I love it! I agree with initials cg, determination is definitely part of it. Determination also helps you find money for it at the expense of other things... (giving myself away a bit there!)

tintin said...

Alice- So true. And so rare nowadays. Nice to know (thru your photos on flickr) that your closet is well heeled.

cg- Thanks for the mention of The Stranglers. I'll never forget the opening of Sexy Beast with "Peaches."

TRB said...

remember the "ex" well...laughed out loud at the post. interesting how time can convert the tough times into commedy

tintin said...


Joy is the shadow of sorrow. Sorrow the shadow of joy.

Anonymous said...

I think I love you.

tintin said...

I'm flattered - - but do you like my blog?

Anonymous said...

A theory:

-a slender woman in a sleeveless linen dress,

-a 1960s pagoda top Mercedes convertible, and

-an eastern Massachusetts federal card table, c. 1800

are three of a kind.

And it's a kind I like a great deal.