Let me introduce you first to Betty. She is a genuine Atlantan. A southern thoroughbred. Proper and dainty. You don't run into many like her on a daily basis. Most who claim to be from Atlanta may have 2 to 3 generations tops who have set roots in this red Georgia clay. Betty, however, is a descendent from locals to this area since the days before Sherman even thought of aiming a canon in this direction.
She is the epitome of Atlanta and the affluent Buckhead area in particular. If her racquet did not have the potential to slip in her grip, I’d imagine she’d prefer to play tennis wearing a pair of white cotton gloves. Betty is a remnant of the traditional south.
Probably in her early sixties but still sly, confident and competitive on the tennis court, she is one tough cookie to beat. And any questionable line calls made by opponents rarely go uncontested. She is a special kind of sassy when she gets excited so you'd best stand strong if Betty asks you twice.
She invited us, her winter ALTA (Atlanta Lawn and Tennis Association) team to her house for a Christmas luncheon. Surprisingly, a not-so-formal invitation came in the mail (but it was still a paper invitation nonetheless) and was well received as all of us RSVP'd very excited to attend.
She lives on an actual estate. One you’d expect from any movie you’ve seen about the south with a rolling meadow and pond for a backyard along with a winding nature trail for her daily constitutional. The interior of her home was just as stately. Wide planked wooden floors, ceiling to floor drapes and large pieces of what, I'm sure, was heirloom furniture. I immediately felt underdressed.
She invited us into the living room where she served cocktails and h'ordeurvres, adamantly turning down any offer of help. None of us were accustomed to being served. We are all moms and moms typically do all the serving. But Betty was the consummate hostess and would not think of her guests lifting a finger to assist.
She directed us to the dining room and there before us was a grand display of bite sized finger foods for our enjoyment. A long dining table covered in white linen presented the tiered platters of quiches, finger sandwiches, muffins, cookies, fruits and vegetables leaving us wanting for absolutely nothing.
"Y'all, help yourselves!"was Betty's welcome invitation to partake in all she'd created. And that we did! As properly as we could, we began placing the tiny tidbits on our plates, giddy over the assortment and already joking that we'd be back for seconds. Then from the back of the room, was a cry from Betty, "No! Not like that y'all! You're supposed to start with the soup first!"
Oh dear God. In the same exact instant, we all realized that we had absolutely no idea how to luncheon. All 11 of us were stopped frozen in our shoes not knowing what to do. Looking back and forth at one another, Betty directed us to put back what we had taken and collected our plates. She pointed us in the direction of the soup terrine on the sideboard which was sitting there mocking us for our unrefined demeanor.
And so it went. Soup course, then Betty collected our dishes. Main course, then Betty collected our dishes. Thank heaven she was in the kitchen as we selected our desserts from the buffet and one of the ladies accidentally dropped a rum ball under the dining room table. It just kept rolling and rolling. Panic-stricken, I shot my eyes at her and then to the rum ball. She dropped to the floor and crawled half the length of the table to retrieve the confection before our hostess was aware. Afraid that Betty may find it in the trash and get the wrong idea, the culprit nestled it deep in the hip pocket of her jeans to address at a more opportune time.
As we socialized over our last morsels of food, the compliments flowed and we laughed at how this experience had taken us all by surprise. But such a pleasant surprise. We agreed that we had long forgotten how nice a ladies' luncheon could and should be. So used to gatherings which are much more casual and of the "pot luck", "team effort"ilk, this proper setting and classic manner was so very welcomed. The experience reminded us that we should be comfortable when we are treated well and should graciously accept, having no remorse, when a friend thinks enough of us to regard us in such a way as Betty did. Only the best for her friends. Graciousness does not present itself more eloquently than that.
And as we toasted our hostess with the last drops of holiday cheer, Betty so thoughtfully reciprocated. Raising her glass high in the air in our honor and placing the other hand on her hip, she proclaimed with gleeful celebration, "Merry Christmas, bitches!"
I told you she was a firecracker!
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