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    BWS Stories - "That's What Friends Are For"...Girlfriends

    "That's What Friends Are For"...Girlfriends - In The Restaurant

    Feather Schwartz Foster is the author of "LADIES: A Conjecture of Personalities" and "Garfield's Train." Her children's chapter book, "T: An Auto-Biography" is due out this fall from Red Engine Press.

    In The Restaurant

    It was several years ago that we were having an elegant dinner before the show. I didn’t see the women come in and seat themselves at a table nearby, but He did. They were not young by any means. Probably around seventy. But they were all well dressed, well coiffed, and you knew the jewelry was real. And they were there for the same reason we were: dinner and the theatre.

    He was the one who pointed them out. “Look at them,” He said, “they’re having the time of their lives, laughing and living it up. They’re probably all widows whose husbands worked themselves to death so they could have a good time.”

    It was true. The four women were obviously enjoying themselves in animated conversation – a far cry from the dozen or so other couples in the restaurant, who all looked like they had been together for decades; all with the same bored or resigned look on their faces. Few talked. No one laughed.

    He was not nor ever will be a deep thinker. He was not given to prescient observations. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and this time it was a pearl that was produced.

    He continued without a trace of bitterness. “They’re so animated and happy. They have all the money and not the men.”

    I am certain He would never remember that scene, and I am just as certain that I will never forget it. I have thought about it a hundred times or more, and I doubt a month passes that something doesn’t trigger it off again.

    Four widows of a certain age; finally free from those bonds or bounds or responsibilities that had probably consigned that laughter and animation to deep slumber for years. Free from George’s preoccupation with his office, or Al’s chippies in New York, or Fred’s controlling tyranny, or whatever those sinkholes were that could be bought off with another diamond something or a new couch. They were now free to be themselves: To laugh, to gesture, to be a little tipsy if they chose, to exchange opinions without being outshouted and overruled, to be happy within themselves and with each other.

    I wonder if they were ever free enough to go on that archaeology dig in Mexico, or the canoe trip in Utah, or take the art classes at the Sorbonne, or spend a month building houses with Habitat for Humanity. They probably could have if they so chose.

    After all, they had all the money, and not the men.

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