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?