I don’t have a resume, really, but if I did, under “other talents” I guess I’d write “tell jokes and ride horses.” But after just emceeing another fashion show benefit, I realize I have another “gift,” if you will:
I can spot a fellow farmhand from across the room.
It’s been a while since I was last in London, but I could also always spot the American tourist: Besides baseball caps and chinos being the dead giveaway, them stepping obliviously off the curb into traffic, looking the wrong way and narrowly being missed by taxis and other shouting drivers is so prevalent that painted on every curb are the words, “LOOK RIGHT” or “LOOK LEFT.”
This was said to have cut dramatically down on emergency calls for ambulances.
And being a first-generation American-born of English parentage, here in the States, I can often spot a wandering Brit. It’s just something in the facial expression I recognize: bewilderment at the size of everything in this country, from shopping malls to jaw lines.
But the spotting of the lesser-known, denim-chested farmhand was only something of which I became recently aware. She was one of the models at the fashion show.
Like me, she was tall and pretty fit, but unlike me, she got to wear long, black, flowing trousers of which I was exceedingly jealous. P.J., the coordinator, always likes to put me in one of her dresses because I’m built like Twiggy, only not as buxom, so unlike my brunette doppelganger, I had to worry about extensive grooming the evening before the big event.
I’m talkin’ shaving.
Like men, who, on vacation, grow a beard to celebrate a break from leaning over the bathroom sink every morning at 7 a.m., I give myself a break over the winter. And why not? I basically live in jeans or riding breeches, so who’s the wiser? But when spring comes, I take the plunge, hook up the mower deck and shave my legs (then sell the hair to “Locks of Love,” which is a very worthy charity should one be so inclined).
Once the forest was clear-cut, I was shocked at the whiteness of my legs, which seemed to lure moths the same way as bug zappers on a back porch. For this I was prepared: I had bought a tube of tanning “make-up” for legs. You squirt some of the glop in your hands, rub it all over your legs and feet, and hey, presto! You’re back from a week in Cozumel. Just remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward or, like me, it will appear that while your palms also went on holiday, the rest of your hands and arms were stuck in the frozen Carolinas.
Standing at the podium, describing each model as she ascended the steps to the runway, it was the self-conscious way this woman carried herself that made me instantly recognize a sister from another mother. From the card I was given to describe her ensemble, I read that she also rode tractors and baled hay on her 300-acre farm. I knew it, I thought, in triumph.
It wasn’t just that she had her hands partially concealed within the folds of her outfit (we’re not ones to show them off or, heaven forbid, paint our nails some silly color to actually draw attention to the calluses); it was just the way she stood. Even beneath the elegant and becoming hat that was worthy of Ascot, she stood as I would stand: like someone who rarely did very girly things and was just waiting for someone to point out that she was playing dress up in someone else’s clothes. She looked terrific but would probably roll her eyes if told so.
As she passed me on the way to the steps, I whispered, “Hey I’ve got a pair of earrings made from tiny, green tractors. I call them my ‘John Deerings.’ You want ’em?”
“Oh, wow, yeah!” she mouthed back and made her way to the runway, completing her walk and pirouette with slightly slumped shoulders.
In the end, the event was a huge success, a sellout, and best of all, lots of money was raised for a very worthy cause. I enjoyed wandering around the country club, taking in its opulence and “ladies who lunch,” and even marveling at the ease in which I found Paul’s Hyundai, standing out like a sore thumb in a sea of gleaming European imports.
The only other person I spied was my spiritual sister. Like me, she was heading home early.
We got critters to feed.