Friday, January 22, 2010


You can imagine our delighted surprise, Isabel's and mine, when we heard Mr. Heung uttering such remarkably proficient English. What's more, he absolutely appeared to understand the meaning behind the vowels he uttered.

"Hottie ladies?" he asked us so sweetly. And yes, we both said. We'd love some hot tea.

"Darjeeling," I specified.

"Ah, gucci, hottie darling," he repeated as he poured me a lovely cup of tea in an extraordinary blue delft set.

"Earl Gray," Isabel requested, and Mr. Heung promptly responded by pouring her a cup of the appropriate mix and saying "Ah, ugree hottie".

That Veronica girl stood behind him, positively beaming with pride. Certainly, she had been helping her new love with his verbal acuity. More certain was I still in Veronica's verboshish handy work when Paige Browning and Mimi Mondjack entered The Second Hand, looking all above it as they tended to do.

"No hottie", he said to them, shrugging and holding an empty tea pot.

"Well I never - " Paige huffed as Mr. Heung quickly pointed to Isabel and me saying "oh, we have hottie," and then pointed back to Paige and Mimi and explained "no hottie you". Paige and Mimi quickly left the store making some unpleasant comments while that Veronica girl scampered into a back room and let loose some outrageous giggles.

"He's a wise man," Isabel whispered.

But the point here is that Mr. Heung has indeed learned such a good bit of the English tongue from Veronica. I fear I may one day miss the charade games that Mr. Heung and I have played in our eager attempts at communication. How dull things could become when we're left to simply speak. Dull and sometimes troubling. Why just this morning, when Isabel and I made our now routine inventory search of The Second Hand for items slightly warm, Mr. Heung approached me and said, "fauk".

"I beg you pardon," I replied, admittedly a tad stunned. But then I saw the exquisite Reed & Barton fork in his hand and soon thereafter I caught on. "Oh, you lovely little man. Fork!"

Where ever did you get this, I asked, and Mr. Heung obviously found that this story required too much detail for a verbal exchange, and instead acted out a scenario that appeared completely to convey that he had found a large box by the back door this morning that was completely full of fine silver wear. All kinds, too. Gorham. Lenox. Reed & Barton. Veronica had been sorting thru them all morning, and it appeared that there were at least ten sets of silver wear place settings for twelve.

I pulled out my investigative journalism notes to compare the list I'd made of missing items with the contents of this box full of silver goodies. Not surprisingly, I determined the two a match. The Burglar, it appeared, was doing an about face. This, I had surmised, was the true essence of The Burglar all along. He had no mind to make off with other people's things and instead wished only to better a nice, hardworking immigrant. And why, then, not a few dozen homeless pets, as well.

Meanwhile, Mr. Heung rang up Babson and yelled excitedly into his end of the phone:

"Uh, silva fauk, thank you, thank you. No, No! Fauk a spoon a silva. Yes! Yes. Back doe. Ah, yes, yes." he gave a couple of smooch smooches over the phone and signed off with a "toodle oo you too" and gave a waive that I'm certain that Babson was unable to appreciate, being on the other end of the telephone as it were. Not a problem, she - Babson that is - appeared soon enough in The Second Hand, checkbook in hand as always and wearing a stunning Diane Schratweiser turquoise necklace not unlike the one that the police insisted upon holding.

"Well," she explained quite smartly, "I could hardly host an auction without including a quite-in-demand piece like this, so I got in touch with Ms. Schratwieser and commissioned this peice. I had intended on putting it up for bid, but when the artist learned that funds would be raised for our animal rescue, she insisted on donating a separate piece. So I treated myself to this one."

Now I don't mind admitting that my mind spent much of the rest of the day plotting my plan for winning the Schratwieser piece. But the point here is not Babson's new necklace, or even the sudden box of silver.

The point is the ruckus brought about by Constance Cortnoy who had apparently lost both her mind and a good bit of her dignity, as well. It all started at my women's club meeting, The Main Line Women's Club, a bit later that day. You see, Bitsy Finklestein had called a special meeting for the committee organizing the spring Tea Cup Drive. Seems she had received quite a poor response from needy organizations regarding our quite generous offer to fit them with tea service for their residents. Well, you can imagine that Bitsy was in a good bit of huff, as were Stella Matson-Ford and Gwin Bethnewsom. Naturally, having spent the considerable time that these ladies spent on such a worthy cause, upsetness was in the air.

"All of the meetings that we've held, and the fliers we've printed up, not to mention the tea cups we've gathered," fretted Stella, her hefty chunks of mascara smudging the eye area as she ranted, "all for not. Completely for not." Stella, it appeared, was about to ring up her lawyer and complain when Constance barged into the room, looking like a woman who had lost her hair brush, and quickly insinuated that Betsy Perkins and Grace Van der Dusen throw their own tailgate at the Malvern Races and avoid Constance's affair. She left just as swiftly as she arrived, yelling over her shoulder that she would not be serving salad at her tailgate and something about starting a new trend serving only 'finger food'.

Well you can imagine just how stunned we all were. Finger foods at a tailgate? Who could imagine a thing like that?

"Do you supposed she'll have napkins?" Lolly asked no one in particular. And Iggy Braithwaite questioned whether Constance was going to force fried chicken upon us. Katrina Wayne appeared close to tears, fearing that Eliahas would completely refuse to attend such an affair. Eliahas, as we all know, is fastidious about his fingers and would never get them messy by picking up food without a proper fork or spoon.

Meanwhile, Bitsy was left at the front of the room to stamp her foot and demand attention for the tea cups whilst the rest of the Ladies were more concerned about messy fingers. That is, almost all of the ladies, as Betsy and Grace were too teary to talk of finger food, instead wondering how they could ever enjoy Saturday's tailgates without a proper party to attend. Both were positive that Constance's insinuation that they were now excluded was a social slight of the highest caliber.

Things became all the more severe when Grace insisted that Ellen Holmsbee forgo the Cortnoy Tailgate so long as Grace was uninvited. Ellen, all too eager to please but all the more eager to fit in, flatly refused Grace's suggestion. That suggestion then became a friendship ultimatum that Betsy Perkins quickly put to Martha Beaudry. Martha, a fiery tempered red head quickly took up that cause, pulling her Blackberrie to her ear, ringing the Club and demanding that Constance be immediately and without haste dropped from the Club paddle tennis team.

Martha then relayed what she quickly learned from the Paddle Tennis team captain that Constance had cancelled her catering order for the tailgates and instead was seen at the local deli ordering a tray of sandwiches.

I quickly escaped the growing mayhem and skooted over to The Second Hand where Isabel awaited my arrival for tea and inventory. And wouldn't you know, but Isabel was naturally two steps ahead of me. Not literally, mind you. For she was not. Isabel sat at a table as cool, calm and regal as ever. But she knew. About Constance that is.

Incredulously, just as I began blurting out that Haitis' was overtaking The Main Line Women's Clubhouse, Isabel nodded to that Veronica girl and that's about when I noticed an ambulance alongside of the curb in front of The Second Hand.

"She has no silver place settings," Isabel whispered to me as she nodded her head towards Constance Cortnoy, who, at that moment was being lifted into the ambulance.

And though I have admittedly spent much of my adult life sitting in stunned disbelief, I now sat even more stunned and in more disbelief at Isabel's all knowing ways. And so I said so. That I was stunned and in disbelief, that is. Further, I asked Isabel just how she came by this conclusion.

"Well," Isabel explained in that understated manner she has, "moments ago Constance did appear in the shop, and she did appear to be out of her mind."

"She was making a mess searching like crazy thru the store and yelling at me 'where do I keep the silver wear'", added that Veronica girl, who was also patting Mr. Heung's shoulders as he appeared visibly shaken by the episode.

"I tella huh, no no fauk you. Baba son give fauk. Ah, she go wallup!" Mr. Heung fretted and acted out how Constance proceeded to smack him silly across his face.

Isabel sipped her tea and noted to Mr. Heung that this was quite a good brew and how good he was getting at the whole thing, and Veronic began putting some sized 8 clothing back on hangers that Constance had apparently ripped them from. But there was more to this story, I was sure. And I said so. That I was sure there was more to this story, that is. And there was.

"Why is Constance being taken away by ambulance?" I asked, quite reasonably I believe.

"Well, she flat out fainted when I told her we had about 10 sets of 12 place settings this morning, but that someone bought them all earlier in the day," Veronica updated me.

For a moment, just a moment, the four of us stared at one another with a knowing, conspiratorial look. And then I spoke. My hat! Where is my hat, I wanted to know. And at that moment Mr. Heung claimed to hear his phone ringing and that Veronica girl felt a strong need to just run from the store.

"Isabel," I nearly cried, "what will I do on Saturday without a hat?"

And Isabel, all knowing as she is, just patted my hand and sipped her Earl Gray.

Well, at the end of the day I found myself just all together too tired to write my column, and instead simply submitted the following:

Dear Readers,
I have come to an astonishing decision that I shall enjoy eating food without the aid of a fork. Do consider joining me in this adventure on Saturday, at the Malvern Races.
Ask Veronica

Sunday, January 3, 2010


My mind wandered, my shoulders were heavy and I had yet to see the finished hat that Mr. Heung had so long ago promised. You can imagine my fears. Had I acted out the wrong sequence of events for Mr. Heung? Possibly he thought I no longer wanted this festive thing upon my head. Or maybe, I'd completely misconveyed that I absolutely needed it by this coming weekend for the Malvern Races tailgates.

I fear I should not have left these finishing touches to his otherwise able hands. And just a small part of me regretted introducing Mr. Heung to that Veronica girl who has so otherwise drastically changed his whole life about and flung him towards happiness at high speed. You see, they do tend to spend most every waking minute in some happy sort of way gazing at one another and fretting about each others wants. Veronica has completely turned the charming Second Hand into such a chic boutique and such a popular spot, too. Especially on Wednesday's when she and Mr. Heung serve 'high tea'.

It's become so popular, and hence somewhat crowded and more difficult to conduct investigative journalistic endeavors within, that Babson, Isabel and I have had to set our alarms for earlyish hours and arrive at the Second Hand before noon. Otherwise, we would never be able to scour the inventory for suspiciously hot items and buy them up for our silent auction. At least not without causing a bit of a stir. Especially now that that nasty little insurance man, Mr. Kuflick, has been following my every move. Whats more, several of the town police men seem to be following me quite a bit, as well. They seem to be under the impression that I hold secret meetings with The Burglar.

Really all that these silly men have accomplished is to throw off my feeding schedule for the poor stray cats that I care for. You see, many of these strays, the cats that is, not the officers and the insurance man, are quite skittish and often entirely afraid of humans. Now, Isabel and certainly Eliahas Wayne would argue with me on including an insurance man in that category. Human, that is. Not skittish cat. Though Mr. Kuflick does strike me as a bit skittish. Or maybe just lonely.

Thats it. That is when I had such an outstanding idea that it almost hurt the sides of my head. Possibly, rising at such an early hour and setting off to my various investigations were causing a bit of a head knocker, too. But the other stuff all began to seem so plainly clear. About Mr. Kuflick, that is. He was lonely. That is why he became so angered at the thought of our lovely garden party. And that is why he had so much time to hunt down the man responsible for his employer being required to pay Eliahas Wayne such a large sum for a priceless violin.

And it was at precisely that moment, when I had this brilliant idea, that I ran into Lavalier Gormley. I was on my way to The Gryphon to see if I could spot Isabel and fill her up with my ideas, and Lavalier was on her way to the library to do something or other with books that she does on a regular occasion. She is very good that way, donating so much time to the inside of the building and it's contents.

Well, on and on she rattled to me about something or other needed for space and computers and rams in the library and how she thought that this years proceeds should feed them and not the gardens surrounding the building.

"Yes!" I nearly screamed, and luckily and grabbed her shoulders as I yelled or I think she was about to fall over. Lavalier insists that I have never agreed with her before and this enthusiastic response caught her quite by surprise. But I had more surprise for her. Dear Lavalier, so intent on reading about other people's lives and loves that she completely forgot to have either for herself. And no reason why not to, really. Just a bit of make up, a wig and some newish clothes and she'd be an all together not unpleasant looking person. Just perfect for my soon to be charming Mr. Kuflick.

"Lavalier," I asked her breathlessly, "would you be the great sort of friend who would help me, and the library, out in such a tremendously important task?"

I hugged her and enthused how much I knew I could count on her before she had an actual chance to say yes. But she got into the spirit of things, squeaking "whats this?" and "what are you up to?" as I grabbed her hand and lead her down the block towards The Second Hand.

Oh how pleased she looked when I explained that is was absolutely essential that she, Lavalier Gormley, must save our Garden Party fundraiser for the library by escorting Mr. Kuflick to the affair and charming into small, tiny little pieces.

"I've never charmed a man in my life, Abigail, and I don't see how you think I"d be able to do this for something so important." she insisted. But I insisted that it was because this was so important that is the precise reason why she was so perfect for the job. And besides, I guaranteed her as I deposited her at that Veronica girl's feet, Veronica has lots of experience charming men and I was positive that if Lavalier just zipped up her mouth and stopped fussing and pushing me away and let Veronica do a complete and total make over that she could, in fact, charm this Mr. Kuflick.

Exhausting it was, really, the whole. I had to run, and run fast, out of The Second Hand and then lean heavy against the door so as to keep Lavalier from escaping and chasing after me. But once Veronica and Mr. Heung got to her I was able to make my escape on over to The Gryphon where I was fairly certain Mr. Kuflick would be lurking in wait for me. And he was. Unfortunately, I had completely missed my opportunity at The Second Hand to demand my hat. Just not a good time, what with trying to stop Lavalier from getting away.

But the point here is that Mr. Kuflick was indeed waiting for me. As were Isabel and Babson, both looking a bit sickish and trying to convey some sort of unspoken message to me as I skipped on up to ol' Kuffy.

"You look like you've got something to confess," he said as I plopped down on a comfy chair next to the little wooden one he had perched himself upon. And I confessed to him that I did indeed have something to confess.

I explained how awful I felt about our exchange regarding the Garden Party fundraiser for the Library and that it was all because of my worry for my dear, dear friend Lavalier. Really, the most breathtaking of cerebrally types that I know and how I'd failed her in my promise to find a suitable escort to take her to this event. Then I gave him a slight hug and cheek to cheek and thanked him ever so for agreeing to take up the challenge and dazzle our Lavalier with his lovely little eyes and smart conversation.

Now, I will admit that more than once during this exchange I caught the what could only be described as horrified looks on the faces of Isabel and Babson. And as much as Mr. Kuflick protested that he would not be party to this party, I was convinced that this really was in his best interest. He was lonely. And as long as Mr. Kuflick was to be lonely, The Burglar, Mr. Petigrew, Mr. Heung and The Second Hand, and even I would have no piece.

I left off my chat with Mr. Kuflick with a little hand scribbled list of things that I thought would endear him to Lavalier, whom I described as a regal and intelligent creature who's mind guarded her heart, waiting for that perfect blend of intellect and serious nature. My list suggested that Mr. Kuflick brush up on the lives of the Bronte sisters, try some Burberry after shave and invest in a tie without a clip.

I was exhausted more the more when I finally sat with Isabel and Babson to go over the list of things we'd been able to find at The Second Hand and that Babson had so generously purchased. The purchasing, really, was the difficult thing as Mr. Heung kept insisting the be free and refusing to accept any currency for them. You know, being all hot as they were. And so we finally, with the fabulous help of Veronica, decided that Babson would only pay what Mr. Heung had paid out for the items. She assured him, Mr. Heung that is, that she was certain she would receive so much more back at the silent auction when their rightful owners found them, and that all of this would go to help our animal shelter. She called him a hero and I acted out the part of Batman to convey the meaning to Mr. Heung. I think he rather liked that.

But the point here is the problem. We'd been able to put together a fairly good list of things that had been taken by The Burglar and found at The Second Hand. Though we had recovered most of the jewelry, golf clubby type things, things with screens and wires and batteries and even Eliahas' violin, we hadn't recovered a single hat and not one piece of the scads of silver wear listed as missing.

I fretted about this as I took a long stroll round the block last night with Conroy Cortnoy. Such a nice man, and I think so desperately depressed about his job situation. Or, should I say lack thereof. As I said earlier, I'd lately had to adjust my feeding schedule for the local stray cats on my block, what with the police officers and Mr. Kuflick following all about. They scare of my furry little friends, you know. And so, in the quiet of a lovely late spring evening, I found myself in the happy company of Conroy, who didn't seem to scare off one cat at all. In fact, one of the little buggars came right up to him. A reddish little cat that I'd been trying to coax inside for weeks now.

But the point here is that I do have a dilemma. Well two dilemma's, really. My lack of hat for the tailgates this week and the lack of hats and silver wear for the Babson Hurley Silent Auction for the Benefit of the Wayne Animal Rescue Party. Naturally Conroy was confused at first, but he is such a nice sort. You know, anyone who can win the trust of a frightened little cat can win my trust too. And so, I filled Conroy in on our plans.

"Why thats fantastic!", he exclaimed. "So all of these nice people will get everything back." He is so, so dear and sweet. You know, he looked so personally relieved as if a great weight had been lifted from his little shoulders. And then he wondered if the police would stop looking for The Burglar if everyone got their things back.

I don't know, I confessed, but, I told him, that I was convinced that this Burglar very badly wanted to make amends.

But how, we both wondered, could he do that?

"He could brake back into people's homes and put everything back?" Conroy thought.

But then we decided that some of these folks had since installed alarms and if the dear man were to get caught - red handed as the case seemed, he'd be doomed. These were, after all, crimes. The kinds that carry stiff types of penalties.

And then poor Conroy became so overburdened by this poor Burglar's misery that he bolted away almost as soon as I told him that his dear wife Constance had certainly not purchased silverware services for 50 people at The Second Hand because The Second Hand has yet to carry any silverware. I guess he must have panicked thinking that Constance merely told him this to justify her going out and buying lots of brand new silverware for their tailgate party. And Conroy being out of work, too. She really needs to cherish this man a bit more.

Oh it was a very late night when I finally finished my column.

Dear Veronica,
I know a really, really cool woman who has just horrible taste in some of her things. Well, most of her things look okay, just too preppy for my taste. But her hats are really unreasonably ugly and she wants my boyfriend to help her make this one hat even uglier. I just like her too much to see her wear this freakish thing so I got together with this woman's husband and he agreed we should make a completely different looking hat that will look great and she won't have time to get another one. Is that okay?
Luv ya,
No Advice From Me

Dear No Advice,
Hats are such special things that I think you must be a really special person to help another person with her hat. In fact, I almost with I knew who you are so I could ask you to help me with my hat because the man that is supposed to be helping me seems to have forgotten. Good luck,

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Babson Hurley says that one should never have their photograph appear in print unless it is an engagement announcement or an obituary. Of course, Babson's photo appears in our Weekly's Society pages almost monthly, but that is strictly because she is far too well mannered to grab the camera from Garret Richmond's hands and smash it to pieces. Babson does not 'pose' for a photograph. She is merely 'photographed', and the two are entirely different things. Naturally Garret seeks out Babson at every function and does his best to frame her in a nice shot. After all, there really is no one else in town as stylish and all together fabulous as Babson. So of course Babson's pixel's decorate many a party page.

But the point here is that there are those that seek attention and those that do not. And there are also those that do not seek attention but attention seeks them, such as Babs Hurley. But this point is not about Babson but about Constance Cortnoy, obviously. Constance, being the obvious sort that seeks at attention when attention clearly does not seek her.

Not that Constance is completely without merit. She's quite organized, from what I'm told. And I understand she also a very accurate speller. Eleanor Saunders once told Isabel that she, Eleanor that is, not Constance, dreamed of mistyping the words 'heretofore' and 'henceforward' throughout the Women's Club newsletter as an assault to Constance's keen sense for wordiness. I will immediately admit that I don't quite understand the strategy of Eleanor's assault. But, having known Constance for most of our lives I absolutely get the gist of it. Eleanor and Constance, as you may probably guess, once co edited the newsletter. Eleanor had had her proverbial fill, of Constance that is, not the newsletter.

But the point here, or heretofore, is that Constance Cortnoy is a seeker of attention. And though her attempts are most certainly made in earnest, they often miss their marks entirely. And that is exactly what I said to Isabel and Lolly when I met them for coffee at the Gryphon and told them of Constance's email to Missy Jamison.

Now Missy is a sweet enough old gal. But dim really as a room without a window. More to the point, the most peculiar thing is that Missy has absolutely nothing to do with investigative journalism, she merely scribbles the ins our outs of the charity events for The Weekly's Society page. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Why really, isn't her page - or pages to be more accurate as she usually culls about eight of them on any given week, the most anticipated and widely read in the paper. That is, of course, until the enormous popularity of my own works.

But why, we all asked. Indeed. It's that attention seeking thing about her, don't you see.

Now, as anyone within ear shot of our little Wayne knows by now, a tremendously well mannered and good tasted burglar has been rummaging thru the coffers of some very fine neighborhood homes. And, as Isabel, Lolly Desjardin, Iggy Braithwaite and I have detected in a sleuthlike manner - taking off with the hats best thought to be in line to win the Most Beautiful Hat Competition at this years Radnor Races Tailgate.

Why, any fool or even a nasty insurance man like Mr. Kuflick would eventually come to reckon, those who's hats had been lifted were obviously not the One lifting the hats. And I was just the day before telling Iggy how I'd explained this theory to my editor, Mr. Petigrew, when old Constance emails this scoop to none other than Missy Jamison. No doubt the prim stick overheard me, as she was sitting in the row ahead of us at a meeting for the 'tea cup' drive.

So slight me she did, and an intended slight it was. One might think that since Constance and I are both members of the Main Line Women's Organization and school mates from St. Ignatius Academy, that she would approach me with this scoop of hers. Instead, Missy Jamison ran the headline on the front page of the society column: "CORDUROY HAT GONE MISSING - FEARED HAT SNATCH BY GENTLEMAN BURGLAR" and continued in her column to quote a "sad faced Connie Corduroy lamented that she was obviously owning a stunner of a hat for the burglar to have stolen it."

Isabel, Lolly, Iggy and I all knew that Missy Jamison meant to quote Constance Cortnoy. And, further, that 'sad faced' is her perpetual look, unless you were to go with some other accurate adjectives such as 'crabby', 'constipated' or 'contrite'. Constances' face, that is, not Missy's. But, as I say, Missy is dimmer than the low switch and rarely pays attention to the correct spelling of a name, unless it is a truly important name. Like Babson Hurley.

Alas, with all the hubbub that Missy's column was sure to attract this week, I submitted my sure to be overlooked column:

Dear Veronica,
I suspect I've done something very bad. In fact, I know I've done something very bad, more than one thing. I very much want to make amends but my wife won't let me. I'm a bit afraid of her, you know. How should I go about this?
A good neighbor

Dear Neighbor,
You probably won't see this as I am sure that you, like everyone else, will be busy reading the Society column and how Constance Cortnoy's hat was snatched by that nice burglar. The headline refers to a corduroy hat, but I doubt it was actually made of corduroy. I don't think that Constance has worn corduroy since freshman year when some of the actives in the sorority made fun of her fire engine red corduroy pants. She stomped off to her room and telephoned her mother who immediately telephone the sorority alumnae board who immediately telephoned the chapter president who instantly did absolutely nothing. I do think Constance has learned her lessons on corduroy fabrics. Obviously it was just a mistype of her last name Cortnoy.
But back to your frightening wife and your misadventures. My guess is that you'll have to make your amends without your wife's knowing.
Yours sincerely,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


It was a very odd thing that happened the other day, indeed. At least, that is, for a small town like Wayne. Not to say that Wayne is very small, as it is not, really. Well, it is smaller then many towns, but I suspect, not at all as small as others. We have a movie theatre, a lovely downtown area and quite good restaurants, too. Of course, we have our assortment of town parks, all named for this one or that one, you know how it is. And of course, the library.

Isabel and I are quite proud of our little library, particularly Isabel. She is such a smart one, Isabel is. Anything having to do with smartness naturally attracts her support. And so it's quite fitting that she be in charge of the Garden Club's Library project. Each year, we - the Gardening Club that is, of which I am a proud member, host a lovely Garden Party on the back terrace of the library. Isabel always suggests quite a catchy theme, and she is so clever at tying said theme into a popular book. One year guests dressed as witches and wizards and muggles, and a few years back we had an especially scandalous time of it dressing as Angels or Demons. Quite a good way to cap off a warm summer evening, you know. And all for a good cause. We proudly fund the beautiful gardens surrounding our library, and on some years we even raise the proverbial bar and stack up funds for some project of sorts that the learned folks within the building itself find useful. And dear Isabel has been at the helm of this worthy cause for ages, or at least since her mother handed the reigns to her and moved to Florida. Isabel's mother, that is, Isabel is still a block or two and the throw of stone from Charlie and me.

But the point here is that this year, for some strange reason that I can think only has to due with hats, plans have been questioned and called suspect and the entire event remains hanging in jeopardy. That nasty Mr. Kuflick, Eliahas Wayne's insurance man, instigated the flap. The other day, he approached me as I enjoyed my coffee at The Gryphon, clutching one of the garden party fliers I had just posted on The Gryphon's bulletin board.

"Is the township's liability carrier aware that you are serving alcohol at this event?" he demanded, those beady little eyes of his looking as though he would enjoy stealing Christmas from a nice family if he could.

Well, I told him, we at The Garden Club have absolutely no intention of throwing a wild kegger, if that was his accusation.

But the insistent little man refused to leave things at that. Jabbing his thin and most utterly in need of a man's manicure finger at the flier he again insisted that we were causing some sort of potential liability by serving up alcohol. Obviously, Mr. Kuflick is not accustomed to garden parties and was quite unfamiliar with what lovely, polite events they are, and I suggested this to him with a hearty smile and pat on his arm. Yet as nice as I was behaving, he became red faced and insistent.

Now, I must admit that there have been the occasional, shall we say, etiquette slips, mostly serving to sustain our 'funny story banks' through the fall and winter months. Like the time that the Betsy's, Porter and Ball that is, arrived wearing the exact same flapper outfit right down to matching shoes. Why even their husbands, Buzz and Carter respectively, continued to confuse the two for the duration of the event. And that, as you can see, became quite a problem as Carter continually served up the wrong Betsy with a glass of champagne, despite said Betsy's tendency to get a bit friendlier than usual once the fizzy stuff enters her system. A few dances and one spin on a table by one of the Betsy's, still quite a dispute as to whether it was Porter or Ball, and shall we say that two couples returned home that evening with a frosty spouse and cold shoulder.

But really, it was just champagne. It's not like we actually serve liquor and I explained that to the dear little insurance man. But he pointed and pointed again and said, "Right here, underneath where it says that the winning hat from the tailgates will be auctioned, you say 'raise your glass and toast the books, it's all top shelf'".

Oh well, yes, if you look at it that way. And he did.

But the point here is that I realized then that Mr. Kuflick's interests in my Garden Party flier had nothing to do with books or even the announcement that all refreshments would be top shelf, but instead zoomed right into the mention of the winning tailgate hat.

It's the hat, you see. And Isabel confirmed my suspicion as soon as I relayed the word for word of my Kuflick confrontation. Isabel, you see, is quite knowing and her confirmation is like evidence of fact, in a way.

Isabel and I made a chart. Slueth-like, as we are becoming:

Mr. Kuflick was poking round after The Burglar. The Burglar and I seem to have become friendly sort of pen pals. The Burglar is suspected of snatching a few of the suspected big contenders in the Tailgate's Most Beautiful Hat contest. I happen to be harboring Lolly's hat, which Isabel, Lolly and Iggy Braithwaite, as well as your truly, believe to be the jackpot of all hat entry's this year. Said hat was referred to quite prominently in the Garden Party flier.

Now, we were both quite stumped as to old Kuffy's contempt of our refreshment choices at The Garden Party. This is a piece we struggle to place in our chart, so at the moment we have him as a Mormon or possibly someone who does not care for books.

But the hat. Or hats. Now how interesting a theory. Isabel suggested I 'flush it about' or something to that effect in my newly popular advice column. A column which, I must say, was causing me near double the hour or two a week I had intended for this career. On that point, off I am to flush, stir and some of those other things that Isabel suggests.

Dear Veronica,
My fellow book club members never take my suggestion for book reads. So, I always end up reading books that put me to sleep and make no sense to me. I've suggested a good magazine like Woman's Day but they just laugh and get all technical because it's not an actual book.
All Booked Up

Dear Booked,
I am a huge Woman's Day fan and hope they feature more hats soon. Maybe you should suggest a hat contest for your book club, wouldn't that be fun? Do you wear a hat to many social events? By the way, 'Sleeping With Ward Cleaver' is a very fun book that your club may actually like.
Write back,

Dear Veronica,
A friend of mine lost his job recently and now swears that he's found night work. Yet, I often see him visiting friends and neighbors at night, and quite late, too. He stays out so late, his hosts must certainly be sleeping by the time he leaves. And he is definitely not wearing a suit and tie, rather he looks like some sort of Mime the way he dresses lately. I can't imagine he'll keep whatever new job he has if he keeps this up.

Dear Perplexed,
Does he wear a hat?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Things have really been getting hot lately, and I don't just mean the lovely weather we've been having. Oh but it has been absolutely balmy and wonderful - I just hope it stays so nice and warm for the tailgates. They're right around the corner and it would be blasted nasty if we got a chilly rain instead of this summer warmth. I've got a lovely Lilly dress to wear with my not quite as good as Lolly hat, and it would be ashame to have to sweater it up. But the point here is that the proverbial heat has been turned up at The Weekly. I'm not sure who has turned the heat up, quite frankly it was the air conditioner running the other day. But Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, said that it has, the heat that is, been turned up and someone was really starting to sweat. Odd phrases, really when you think about it. I absolutely did not see one person at The Weekly who was sweating. And as for the heat, as I've said it became quite hot outside these past few days, but inside of the offices the air conditioner was doing quite well at keeping it comfy.

But the important point I believe worth mentioning is that things were getting quite exciting. Well you can imagine how absolutely tickled I am to learn that my column has made The Weekly quite the popular rag. Isabel says that it all has to do with endorsements, and I've apparently snagged an exclusive. Endorsement, that is. You see, it all started when I agreed to give safe keeping for Lolly Desjardin's Most Beautiful Hat entry. Apparently, Lolly felt convinced that The Burglar would make entry into her home and nick off with her Lemon Hat, and odd as it seems, felt old Burglar Man would skip right by my home. All slights aside, being the good sport that I am, I agreed and decided to reinforce the trenches, so to speak, by taking it up with The Burglar in my own manner. Straight to the point, I posted a letter from my pen to his eye in my weekly advice column. Asked the man straight out not to lift the Lemon hat of Lolly until after the tailgates. Which, by that point I'd imagine, the hat would no longer even need a space in my home.

Word got out, and spread rather quickly I might ad, that The Burglar not only read my column, but responded in quite a quick turn around. And that, as Isabel says, is quite a coo - getting an endorsement from The Burglar. Impeccable manner, he has. And that is exactly what I said to Captain Leighton as he was asking poor Mr. Petigrew the same questions, over and over. I told him, Captain Leighton that is, that I was absolutely certain The Burglar would respond to my post as he's shown himself to be quite the model citizen, if you discount the burglary of course, in most respects. I mean really, the man has shown time and again that he respects people's property and their feelings, too. Well, again keeping the discount for the habit he has of steeling things. But he always tidy's up and fixes anything he's broken, and sometimes fixes things that just need fixing. And a darn decent sort, too. Why the entire thought of giving Katerina a nice piece of jewelry, knowing she had none of her own, was just positively charming. And you know, you can't buy charm like that in a jar. Can you imagine what a decent sort he must be. And I'm not the only one that feels this way. Why just the other day, Victor McWoogle told me that if The Burglar, or Burglar Man as Victor likes to refer to him. Point is, Victor says that if Burglar Man surfaces again, or drops me another line, to mention the possibility of a golf membership at the McWoogle's club. And that would be quite a jump across a very lengthy waiting list.

Now they - the police and Mr. Petigrew and Mr. Petigrew's attorney, Stanley Miles, that is. Well they talked and talked about Amendments, more than one of them I think because they keep making The First Amendmant sound terribly important, and being confidential, coming down to the station and all sorts of things they felt strongly were my duty. I've absolutely no idea how they came to think that an Advice Columnist of my stature would ever amend her advice or consider something intended for the newspaper to be confidential. And I told them that, too, that they were missing the point. Finally, I said to Captain Leighton, after first telling him just how much I admire him and to give Rose, his wife, my best, that if he wanted my advice he was going to have to send me a letter just like everyone else.

And that really is the point here. Why I've got quite a stack of mail to answer since The Burglar wrote me. Now since I've taken up the Veronica quill, I've scarcely got more than a note a week. Not what you'd call a town in dire need of advice. But advice I gave just the same. Well you can immagine that since The Burglar has given me such a rousing endorsement, one would naturally want my advice. I've become absolutely a sought after sort for advice. More letter than I could possibly read over a cup of coffee, which is really my usual working hour. I've taken to adding a mid day snack time to go with my letter reading. And it's not just me that has become a person that uses the working term 'swamped'. Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, tells me that the advertising department is also in the swamp. Says that the phone in classified rings so much that Mrs. Petigrew has been compelled to come by in the mornings to lend a hand and ear. And apparently, Mrs. Petigrew has grown tired of coming to The Weekly since that Veronica girl has found other employment.

I said to Charlie as we were enjoying a nice, summer like evening on our porch, 'I feel quite important suddenly.' And Charlie just said to me, 'darling you're always important.' And that's a thought that no one can nick.

Oh yes, do forgive any typos, this entire idea of being swamped is exciting but does come with it's own set of issues.

Dear Veronica,
I have a secret crush on a man that I work with. His name is Harper but he is married and I don't want anyone to know, except for Harper. Can you please use your column to advice him of such,

Dear Laura,
I am not certain if Harper reads The Weekly, but I had the pleasure to bump into his wife, Sonya, at the Genuardi's yesterday and she says that she reads The Weekly as well as my column and she promises to show him your letter. Good luck,

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Mr. Petigrew had recently developed an odd habit of leaving the office to pace the sidewalk up and down West Avenue. He checks his reflection in the windows of shops and then darts quickly by others. Maybe he has more time now that he's not trying to find that Veronica girl a job. Wonderful really, because I think the exercise might do him a bit of good. And Veronica just seems to love her new job with Mr. Heung. But the pacing has become a bit much. If he just walked leisurely I don't think he'd call quite as much attention to himself. He has also been seen to spray some sort of aerosol on his scalp quite frequently. Sue-Nancy Quigly, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, told me that he, that is Mr. Petigrew, that he has also taken to asking her if she has noticed he had a bit more hair on his dome. She had not, and quite frankly neither did I. He remained as shiny on the top as the day I first met him. And a good thing, too, for he was also growing accustomed to saying how much he'd like to pull his own hair out. Very odd, indeed, to hope so much to grow some just so one could pull it all out again. Men can truly be difficult to understand, at times, as Isabel says "they are victims of their own desires". Now I'm not entirely certain how this pertains to Mr. Petigrew's lack of scalp follicles, but I do know that he has also become quite uncomfortable with the visits from Captain Leighton as well as Eliahas Wayne's insurance man, Mr. Kuflic. Something to do with the in's and outs of his advertising and all to do with catching The Burglar.

You see, it all has to do with my column and the letter I received from The Burglar. I was once again credited with an idea that Mr. Petigrew called a "doosy" that he just "couldn't believe". He really is quite a down to earth type fellow, always wondering what he has done to deserve all of this. And he is such a devoted newspaper man, I believe it absolutely is about time he get all of this recognition. Now when I first met Mr. Petigrew, he was dedicated to the entire Burglar issue, and now with a bit of help from me he is smack dab in the middle of it. Or, as The Daily said in a headline, "In With The Burglar". (Most unflattering picture of Mr. Petigrew that The Daily chose to run). But the point here is that I decided to ask Mr. Burglar, up front and all that, not to rummage through my home and snatch poor Lolly's tailgate hat until after the Races. And though a few of the Ladies at my Women's club called my letter 'silly', 'daft' and a few other things, apparently I'm not the only one. That is, not the only one that took to making my requests to Mr. Burglar in print. You see, I believe The Burglar to be a gentleman, and a gentleman never denies a polite request. It's become quite obvious that the man does like hats, and why wouldn't he want a hat like Lolly Desjardin's?

But the point here is that, apparently, after reading my latest column, several others decided to take out space in The Weekly with similar requests. Babson Hurley was the first. Her advertisement read: Dear Mr. Burglar, You've already been to 105 Wooded Lane. While we appreciate your courtesy and thoughtfulness in cleaning up any mess you may have caused, we do request that you not visit again unless formally invited.

Betsy Perkins ran an even nicer advertisement, saying: Dear Burglar, If you are the person responsible for bringing my cat to me, thank you ever so much. He is the best cat in the whole entire world. My husband may not think this cat is worth the golf clubs of his that you took, but I do. And, my husband did get his clubs back. We don't have much else for you, other than some coins that my husband collects which you missed. They are in the second floor study.

Victor McWoogle took out a very funny spot, saying : Alright now Burglar Man, haven't had the pleasure yet, despite all the good stuff in our house. Still, our neighbors at 114 Overlook have absolutely fabulous stuff and they are heavy sleepers.

At last count, according to Sue-Nancy Quigley, Mr. Petigrew's secretary, The Weekly had received ten advertisements and placed all of them in the front section of the paper. Now, according to Sue-Nancy, who to me seems to be a rather in-the-know type, newspapers are very keen on their advertisements. All has to do with profits, and what not. So you see, this trend I started was obviously pleasing Mr. Petigrew to the point where he believed he could actually wish for more hair. Really, any hair would be more hair for the dear man.

And the truly odd thing about this whole letter writing bit is that the police, as well as that nasty little insurance man, Mr. Kuflic, had completely forgotten about The Second Hand and were concentrating themselves on this belief that Mr. Petigrew had an "in" with The Burglar. It must be nice to realize one's dreams, as Mr. Petigrew was now doing. Although, I thought that Veronica girl was a bit cross when she said gagging is what he, Mr. Petigrew that is, that gagging is what he gets. You see, as we were buying up some more suspicious items at The Second Hand, I told her about how the police were ordering Mr. Petigrew to gag. Very archaic, I believe, and I told the man from The Daily just that when he came round to speak with me about it. I said to him, 'one does not order one to gag, and the police should stop concentrating so much on who writes who a letter and should really concentrate more on finding out who lifted the hood ornaments off of half a dozen Mercedes parked along Louella Court last week.'

But the point here really is the letter that I received from The Burglar that started all of this excitement.

Dear Veronica,
I wouldn't think of burgling your home. You've been quite kind and fair to me, I believe. I think that you're advice is very good advice and more people should read your column. They should also stop by and visit your garden, it's one of the nicest in the neighborhood. And while there, maybe think about adopting one of the stray cats you've been so good about caring for.
Best Regards,

Monday, April 20, 2009


It was a rather lemony looking hat, wider on the left then on the right, completely covered with biggish, lemon colored feathers and a giant sun flower on the shallow side. Lolly Desjardin was besides herself and beamed like a light bulb underneath it's lemony brim. Said that "Lindsay felt this to be her finest creation". Iggy Braithwaite gushed all over herself, making an early and, I thought, premature pronouncement that she'd be passing the torch to Lolly this year. That is, the Most Beautiful Hat torch, if you will. Now I do adore Lolly, well who doesn't. And on a normal day, one that didn't involve stacking tea cups and longing for a sip of Earl Grey while realizing my dream of winning Most Beautiful Hat at the Malvern Races was diminishing with every lemon swoosh of Lolly's hat, I would be giddy with excitement for her, too. But I'm sure that they, Lolly and Iggy that is, must have noticed the complete drain of color from my face as soon as Lolly showed us her, I must admit, quite spectacular hat. I'd been working so hard on my hat, and here before my eyes was quite possibly the most glorious, lemon colored creation that a head could wear. Maeve Huckleberry wore a somewhat similar, pink creation two years ago at the Point to Point races, and blabbered on endlessly about how some famous hat man in London made the thing especially for her. Unfortunately, this famous hat man neglected to build something to hide Maeve's rather unfortunate looking mug. Therefore, I believe he completely failed in his mission.

Now Lolly is such a pretty girl, one wouldn't want a hat to cover her smiley face. And happy as she was, well you can imagine the pickle it placed me when she asked about storing the thing in my cedar closet. "I'm so dreadfully frightened that The Burglar might abscond with it," she nearly quivered. Iggy shook her head emphatically in agreement, reminding us that he'd, The Burglar that is, taken off with her would be entry to this year's competition. "Don't know what I'll do now," Iggy almost sobbed, "Huston says I spend too much money on hats to begin with, and that I should just wear the one from last year since it was so successful. He really doesn't understand a thing!" And we all agreed. He's a darling man, but like most men, he can be a bit daffed when it comes to important things like the Hat Competition.

Now the thing about being magnanimous, which is precisely what I believe I was being, is that you can't actually go out and brag of your magnanimosity, now can you? What would I say, "oh hallo, I've just given over my house as a safe haven for Lolly Desjardin's most glorious Hat competition entry, absolutely blinding my dream of snagging that honor with an original creation of my own". And speaking of my original creation, I'd been spending absolutely bundles of time on it, and you know, I think the thing is no where close to being a finished product. I'd left the project in the able hands of Mr Heung, over at The Second Hand, you know. And between the two of us, we'd clipped the man made tails off nearly a dozen second hand stuffed animals and statuettes with the plan of reattaching them to the brim of a very smart looking hat I'd located in the shop. If I remember correctly, we had at least one faux rabbit tail, a purple dinosaur tail, a small number of faux cat and dogish type tails and a most rigid piece from the rear of a plastic horse. Mr. Heung had taken on the task of attaching these tails in an artistic fashion of which he assures me he is most talented. And I do absolutely believe him as he has been so excited about the project. That is until I introduced him to that Veronic girl. Lovely sweet girl, if a tad tawdry in her outfits, but none the less, quite a nice girl. And you see, this brings me really to the dilemma I sat in the middle of at this moment. As much as I adored myself for the arrangement I managed to create at The Second Hand, it was at the moment leaving me rather hat less. After all, the Malvern Races were right around the proverbial corner, I was staring at the giddy, happy and gloriously hatted face of Lolly Desjardin as my head was moving up and down in agreement while she, Lolly that is, placed her lemon prize into a large shopping bag, provided by the ever eavesdropping Constance Cortnoy, and handed it to me for a vigilant safe keeping. I suppose a second place finish might be nice, if indeed the committee chose to award such a thing.

But the point here is that I believe Mr. Heung has become a bit forgetful towards my hat. Now I do admit that fabulous things had been going on at The Second Hand since I'd introduced that Veronica girl to the situation. She'd managed to create actual departments in the store. Where once you could find a vintage Lilly Pulitzer along side a baby bassinet, Veronica had staged a Ladies boutique to the right front of the store, jewelry smack dab in the center, Menswear to the front left and so forth and so on. Not to mention the bright dabs of color she'd painted on the walls and bright, happy lime green trim. Flubberheaded as I am, this all reminded me that Veronica gave me a hand scribbled ad to place in The Weekly, announcing that every Wednesday afternoon, High Tea would be served at The Second Hand. I couldn't wait for that and was so dreadfully proud to show Mr. Petigrew the business I was bringing The Weekly.

"A paid advertisement," I told him triumphantly. I must have bragged just a tad too much about how I masterminded the whole plot, looked like love and all that, for Mr. Petigrew grew into a foul mood and stormed off into his office, refusing to take calls. Which really is too bad, I had such a good idea to run by him. But in that mood, Sue-Nancy Quigley suggested, better not to bother him at all. So, as Sue-Nancy suggested, I decided not to bother Mr. Petigrew and to just go ahead and print my column with this new twist:

Dear Mr. Burglar,
I must say that I am an absolute fan of yours. I imagine you to be very busy, but a talented man with a special kindness towards animals. All things wonderful with that. Be that as it may, I've a special object in my home that I'm keeping safe for a dear friend and I would be most appreciative if you held off from nicking it until after the Malvern Races.
Thank you so much, you dear man and good luck,