TITLE: The Company of Old Ladies
GENRE: Women's Upmarket
The two old ladies sit in the Panera Bakery Café near downtown Denver. Tall and bony Esther, strung together loosely as a starved cat, drinks a soy milk latte. Hyacinth sips a small, Equal-sweetened, hazelnut decaf to battle her life-long plumpness. She makes a face and adds two packets of sugar, then resumes the women’s customary discussion, a courteous—if heated—dialogue over the benefits and burdens of advanced age.
At sixty-eight, Hyacinth struggles to accept her deteriorating exterior while her interior still feels about thirty-five. “I think old people are completely indifferent to society’s restrictions. They simply don’t care about what’s proper or improper. If they want to be blunt and opinionated, they are. They’re willing to take risks, appear foolish. A big bonus that compensates for any physical discomfort, even conditions like the hemorrhoids plaguing me.” She shifts on the hard chair to search for respite.
Clamp! Instead of arguing, Esther squeezes Hyacinth's arm, halting her mid-thought.
Hyacinth knows she must freeze in obedience to Esther’s nonverbal command, that Esther, the elder by fifteen years, likes to take the lead in pointing out items of interest, perhaps an especially dirty homeless man, or a newspaper headline blazing panic over a new environmental danger. Hyacinth slowly sweeps the room with her gaze, never moving her head. Then she nods to indicate she’s seen the curiosity.
And there it is. By the cashier. Something truly strange and wonderful. Whether male or female neither Esther nor Hyacinth can tell.