Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 495 - Madame M.

Roses have always reminded me of old ladies. Classy, refined, elegant. Last week though, I suddenly realised that old ladies (...and remember, I'm going to be one in the not-too-distant future!), can also be feisty, bright coloured, cheeky little Poppies, just like the beautiful specimens below! Funny how these three are lined up in a row - indulge me if you wish, and I'll share a delightful encounter with you.

To put you in the picture - imagine that I am the Poppie on the left, the middle one is a shy young girl and the Poppie on the right is a petite, well groomed, confident little old lady dressed in pink.

So, now imagine that before this picture was taken, someone else stood in front of the young girl. We're waiting in line to go to the bathroom, along with a gazillion other women. We're all somewhere in romance land, as for the last hour we'd been listening to the dishy young Italian singer, Patrizio, serenading us at a live performance.

We're all minding our own business (...and all probably imagining Patrizio proposing to us somewhere under a rose covered veranda in Tuscany...), when two tiny little old ladies casually join the line. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, except, the normal order of things would have been to join from the back of the line, not discreetly sauntering in, claiming your stand almost in the front!

So, let's say Madame M barged into my life in the toilet queue.

I'm calling her Madame M because she really is quite a madame, her real name starts with the letter M and I also found her to be manipulative, mesmerising and quite a mystery, to be quite frank!

Back to the story then. Well, we just stood there for a while, looking at each other in disbelief. The cheek of these two was almost beyond comprehension! Then the murmurs started. Everyone had something to say, but no-one actually said it to them. So I cracked. This is more or less how my first interaction with Madame M went:

Me: 'Excuse me...the line starts over there, right at the back.'
Madame M: Ignores me totally.
Me: 'Hallo - you can't actually do this, we've all been standing here for a while.'
Madame M: Continues talking to her equally elegant looking little friend.
At this stage I'm getting hot under the collar. Madame M's friend gets stage fright and informs her that she's going to look for another bathroom. Madame M, who was the tiniest of the two, by the way, decides to hold her ground and remains in her spot.

You've got to love this!

She continues talking - to no one in particular and then turns to face me. The young girl in front of me tries to make herself invisible but I can see she's not missing this for the world!

Madame M: 'My dear, when you get to my age you'll realise that when you have to go, you have to go!'
Me: 'I can understand that, but then all you had to do was ask and we would have let you in with love.You can't just barge in without asking - it angers people, we've all been standing here for quite a while.'
Madame M: Gives me a look that could kill but remains quiet for a few seconds.

After contemplating the situation for a little while she turns back to me, looks me straight in the eye, holds her hand out to me in introduction as says: ' I'm M. Who are you?'

At this stage I'm warming to her as I just cannot believe what I'm busy experiencing. Note that she's still in her chosen spot in the line, which, by the way, is steadily moving forward. I think Churchill would have found her a very useful member of staff - she seemed to be a strategist of note!

Back to the conversation:
Me: 'I'm Emilene.' (In a proud, confident, don't-mess-with-me kinda way...)
Madame M: 'Do you know - I almost followed a career in ballet in Milan. Have you ever been there?'
Me: (Smiling) 'In fact, yes, I have been.'
Madame M seemed phased by that for a few seconds - maybe I didn't look like the travelling kind...or even worse, perhaps I didn't strike her as the educated type either.

So as you can imagine, it was pretty much full on war at this stage. (I know the women reading this will identify...)

At this point I decided to fight her on her own battleground, so I shifted to my best posh English accent. Well, I'm actually a very plain Afrikaans girl but I have an arsenal of accents and life experience that I can revert to if needed, and as she has such a lovely refined English accent, I thought it was time to put on the armour! (Perhaps I do have some stiff-upper-lip genes, we were a colony after all...)

So the battle continued:

Me: 'I'm sure you've charmed your way through life - you're very good at it.'
Madame M: Turns around to face me and says in her sternest voice - 'I fought my way through life...'

Something about the way she said it just told me that that probably was the first piece of her life that she shared with me that was worth believing. Don't ask me why, I just felt it.

She also said to me, whilst looking right into my soul: 'God works in mysterious ways...'

By the time we reached the end of the line I had learnt that her son had died at age 42, a young man had asked her mother for her hand in marriage but she declined the offer and ended up marrying her husband, her marriage had lasted more than 50 years, her husband had passed away, she is a Roman Catholic, but doesn't go to church because of something that happened in her life and that she wishes she was a few years younger - Patrizio is such a delectable specimen.

Well. I couldn't possibly let this woman go! So after we had freshened up, our conversation continued.

Me: 'Well M. I think you are a fascinating person and you really have made a strong impression on me, granted in the strangest of settings. I would like to hear more about your life story, that is, if you'd care to share.'
Madame M: Looking me straight in the eye - 'I don't mind sharing.We can meet.'
I noticed that now that she had achieved her goal of getting to the front of the line she seemed more in touch with reality. I felt as if I had witnessed a performance worthy of an Oscar and couldn't help wondering how many other doors have opened for her in this way.

I have to give it to her. She's good. She got to the loo way ahead of everyone else - I just hope her little friend made it to her final destination in time. If I am to believe Madame M - when little old ladies have to go, they have to go!

Madame M and I exchanged numbers and agreed to meet for lunch one day. I am planning to follow up and actually I have been thinking about where I should take her.

After much deliberation I have decided that there is only one place in Cape Town that would be fitting for such a grande dame. I'll be taking her for tea in the garden of the other very English lady in our part of the world - The Mount Nelson. I can't think of a better setting for our little get-together.

I told you she was good!

(The photographs above were taken at the open gardens in Elgin, situated close to Cape Town - more on that in a future post...)


  1. emilene: I, too, would have given her my number and an invitation to tea - as soon as I left the loo ahead of her. You are, indeed, a lady.

  2. Oh you had better fess up after this luncheon!! We/I want details my dear..details!! :-) This is a scream! And the pics of the flowers are great those roses!

  3. Wow, that is quite an interesting story. Who would have thought, the things you can learn while in line for the "loo". (that seems like such a funny word to me, not being used to it)
    HEY...I'm an old lady too (just turned 60) and yes, sometimes when you gotta gotta go, but I DON'T just barge in line.
    without a PULEEEEZ...I need to go, help a gal out?? (tee,hee)

    thanks for your kind words on my blog. Very appreciated.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I welcome your input!