The Girl in the Poppy Dress

Jul 28, 2021

Today marks the first day of my seven-day sabbatical, and I am giddy with anticipation of what’s to come.
 
The kids are with the grandparents for the week, and with Kaveh working the next seven days I’ve decided it is a perfect time to retreat to the stillness of our Sedona cabin for some much-needed time with little ole me.
 
I’ve never had alone time like this in my 42 years on this earth, and it’s likely I may never have it again for years to come. This gift is most definitely not lost on me as I’m planning on soaking up every moment.
 
I drive through Sedona on my way to the valley where our two-bedroom cabin sits nestled along the creek. The majestic red rocks stand tall outside my passenger window as the summer rain drizzles softly. A beam of sunlight pierces through the clouds that have settled over the city, casting a soft yellow spotlight on the hillside. The views are breathtaking and beckon me to stop and breathe them in. I see no reason to argue with Mother Nature this evening and turn into the first restaurant with a patio.

 

“Good evening. Will you be dining alone?” the host asks.

“Yes, one for the patio, please,” I say.

“I’m sorry, but the patio is by reservation only. I can offer you a seat at the bar,“ he replies, holding out his right arm, gesturing for me to lead the way.

I pull up a seat at the bar facing the windows, where I can still catch a glimpse of the setting sun casting shadows on the mountainside.

“Are we you waiting on someone else to join you this evening?” the bartender asks, as he sets down a cocktail napkin on the copper bar in front of me.

Now, I love my family but I must confess that I simply love dining alone. Many women wouldn’t dare ask for a table for one, feeling lonely or awkward. Not me; I cherish dinners by myself.

My mother divorced in her mid-forties and taught me to embrace the beauty of dining alone. She would pull up a stool at the bar and quickly make new friends or grab a booth in the corner, and people watch as she slowly sipped her glass of whiskey on the rocks.

Tonight I find the bartender’s question offensive. But I’m not sure if it’s the question or his lack of eye contact when asking the question.

What if I was newly divorced or widowed. His question of “are we waiting on someone else to join you?” would likely trigger my feelings of loneliness as I see everyone else in the restaurant has someone by their side, someone else to share their meal with for the evening.

The question implies that I should have someone else. I don’t like it, and thus I don’t like him with his sloppy forty-year-old pony tail.

“Nope, just me. I’ll take a glass of Bull by the Horns,” I reply.

He sets down an oversized wine glass. Holding only the very end of the bottle, he pours until the glass is just below half full. He lists the night’s dinner specials as he looks over my head, scanning the room behind me. He seems downright reluctant to make eye contact, as though he is simply too busy for my single order.

A group of 20-somethings walk in the door, ten in total. Eight are wearing short black dresses and one, a skimpy white lace dress. Upon her head sits a vale attached to kitty cat ears, like some slinky sex-kitten bride. Standing out like a sore thumb is a girl wearing an off-the-shoulder floral dress with large red and orange poppies . It’s clear that she didn’t get the message about the proper attire or somehow didn’t quite make the cut into the wedding party and therefore does not get the privilege of donning the sexy uniform for the occasion.

The dresses are shockingly short. Even the bride’s just barely covers her buttcheeks. All but the “didn’t get the message” girl appear to be trying exceptionally hard to be sexy as they walk in, batting their artificial lashes and laughing ever-so nonchalantly.

Here I sit in ankle-high warn leather boots, jeans, and a white v-neck T, feeling sexier in my 40s than I ever did in my younger years. I sure wish I had known in my 20s and 30s that sexy isn’t the length of your dress. It isn’t the amount of your cleavage (though I love a good boobie shirt), the fullness of your lips, or the height of your heels. Sexy is in your confidence. It’s in your humor and your grace. It’s in the way you walk into a room, not caring if a single soul looks up at you but happy to make friends with all of them if given a chance.

The girls find a seat at the large table set up just behind me, each trying to pull down their dress to prevent their thighs from sticking to the pleather seat. My bartender quickly sets down the bottle of wine and eagerly hustles around the bar, greeting them with a grin on his face. I’m very tempted to give myself a more generous pour in his absence.

“Beautiful ladies. Thank you for joining us this evening, ” he says with a cocky grin on his face. “It looks like we have a celebration tonight. My name is Rick, and I’m your sommelier for the evening. Your waiter is with another table, but I’m happy to get you some cocktails. Maybe you wanna start with something fun like the Sedona Spritz. It’s a lovely cocktail of Aperol, OJ, and Prosecco.”

“What is Aperol?” the bride asks softly.

“That’s funny you should ask. We were just speaking about this. Aperol is a bubbly orange drink, but nobody really knows what’s in it,” he answers.

The girl in the poppy dress looks up from her menu with a wrinkle in her brow, as if the words, “nobody really knows what’s in it,” have just annoyed her to no end.

“Aperol is a bitter Italian aperitif of rhubarb, the root, gentian, and the herb, chinchona, which gives it a citrus tang. And it has no carbonation. Just the Prosecco you top it off with,” she says before flipping over her menu.

He quickly returns to the safety of his bar, having forgotten to get even a single drink order.

This sommelier just got schooled, and I’m starting to think “didn’t get the message” girl actually did get the message and decided she didn’t want to wear the evening’s uniform and opted for her favorite poppy dress instead.

I like her, I like her a lot. She’s gonna be just fine in this world.

 

Cheers my friends,

Shea

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