I’ve mailed all the postcards to those who sent me an address from my last post. In my continuing efforts to revive the art of the handwritten note, I bought extra postcards while I was in Florida. If you’d still like one, send me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org or in a message on Facebook if you know me there. I won’t use your address for anything but mailing the card.
Julie carefully snugged her purse between her feet and pulled her carry on bag closer to her as she settled into the blue molded plastic chair that had doubtless held many airport travelers before us.
“I can’t believe the conference is already over- can you believe it went so quickly?” she asked me.
“My head's still spinning!” I replied and smiled. A 60ish man with a long beard and uncut grey hair topped by a grimy ball cap paused momentarily near an empty seat opposite us, then moved on to a more expansive space two rows over.
Julie raised her eyebrows at me and whispered, “Duck Dynasty’s Florida cousin?”
I smiled. “Maybe Sy is visiting the Magic Kingdom,” I murmured in a voice only she could hear. Julie worked again at arranging her belongings to take up less space as gate 22 began filling up around us. Julie is a dear friend of mine although we don’t often get to see each other face to face. We’d both held jobs at this large conference and were now headed home. We’d be on the same flight to DFW and from there we'd fly out to our respective homes.
Julie was a picture of casual elegance, making it look, as she always did, effortless. Her white linen Bermuda shorts, her floral blouse and her trendy ombre hair made her look at least a decade younger than her 50 years, and although she is happily married for thirty years now, she had still turned admiring heads as we made our way through the large Orlando airport.
“Julie, were you just born sophisticated? “ I asked with a grin. “I mean, did you come home from the hospital in baby pearls and with a Prada diaper bag?”
A giggle escaped from her and then turned into a melodic chuckle. She poked her elbow into my arm. “Behave!” she admonished. “We don’t want to scare people around us with our loud laughing.”
I bent down to pull my boarding pass from my purse and she elbowed me again. “Hey, I am behaving,” I told her, nose still buried in my purse.
“Look! Look!” she hissed as she surreptitiously pointed down our row. I followed the direction of her arm and saw a man about our age, cap pulled down low, studiously reading a large newspaper.
“What is it?” I asked, a little alarmed by the urgency in her voice.
“Not what, it’s who!” she replied urgently. Her eyes widened to their outer boundaries.
I sat up and looked at her quizzically. She hadn’t taken her eyes off this man once.
“It’s Leif Garrett, I’m sure of it! Oh, how I loved him!” she whispered directly into my ear. The name bounced through my brain for a moment until it hit the 1970’s region, in a small, dusty corner of my hippocampus.
I remembered him now, the Justin Beiber of women of our age. Blond hair, dazzling smile, and tourniquet- tight leather pants, it didn’t matter that he had negligible vocal talent. Eleven and twelve year old girls like us had swooned over him. Tiger Beat magazine had made a fortune with his face on hundreds of its covers.
“Are you sure?” I pressed her, trying to get a better look even as the newspaper obscured most of his face.
“Yes, yes!” Her face reddened and she fanned herself with small motions. “Oh, oh, should I go say hello to him?”
I smiled for a moment at seeing her so undone. “I don’t know that it’s really him, because that newspaper’s in his face. What if you get up to him and it’s not Leif? What will you say?”
“I’ll just say uhh, well, I don’t know what I’ll say, but I’ve got to see if it’s him!”
I giggled. “Well, if you’re so set on this, I’ll stay here with our stuff. Go ahead.”
She pulled a breath mint out of her purse and hastily ran lipstick over her lips. Julie stood and straightened her clothes. She looked down at me one more time and I nodded my encouragement. She took a deep breath and set off purposefully towards him.
Before she got five steps in his direction, though, a cheery voice at his gate announced his airplane was now boarding. The Leif man stuffed his newspaper into the chair next to him, grabbed a briefcase, and was off into the priority boarding line without me even getting a good look at his face.
Julie froze in her tracks even as he handed his boarding pass to the attendant and disappeared into the tunnel. By the time she turned back around, she had regained the composure and warm sophistication that are her hallmarks.
And Leif, baby, wherever you are, you've still got it.