Cotillion

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Cotillion (Avon 1934), named after a form of dancing and the ball (cotillion ball) used to present debutantes is a super sweet, nutty, buttery floral.  It’s balsamic and woody too with a probable note of leathery coumarin.

While it starts almost like a gourmand, in the drydown it turns very spicy, almost suddenly.  In fact, it almost smells like Christmas – a vintage, nostalgic Christmas.  It’s beautiful like potpourri with a lot of depth and warmth.

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Summer Memories: Part II of IV

George and I stood silent for a moment by the front door until Mrs. Brown opened the door, ringing the attached bell, and we moved aside for her to walk into the drugstore.  Mrs. Brown and Mr. Olinski began talking.

“Can I walk you home at least?”  He looked deeply into my eyes and I felt suddenly stunned and even more unsure.  My face was becoming warmer by the second and my vision a bit blurry.  I looked back at Gracie who still seemed to be enjoying herself.  Then I looked for Mr. Olinski, but he was nowhere to be seen.  He must have gone into the back of the store to find something for Mrs. Brown, and finally, after distracting myself with my surroundings long enough, I had to face his question.

“I’m sorry I can’t go to the lake tonight.  It’s so late.”  I bit my lip and looked down embarrassed by my apprehension. “But, if you would like to walk with me home I would enjoy that.”  I tried to sound confident and experienced.

“Certainly.  I would be delighted.”  He placed his hat on his head, and opened the door for me as we walked out.

The wind had quieted down some now and it was almost balmy.  I quietly began walking slowly towards my house on Maple Street near the old bridge.  George placed his hands in his pockets and turned his hat down low over his face in a comical sort of manner.

I wasn’t sure what exactly I was supposed to do next.  George started before I could worry much longer, “So you’re a bright, talented young lady with the biggest, prettiest eyes a man could stand to look at before he’d positively burst, and you’re a Methodist.  What else would Walter Winchell like to know?”

“I take care of my little sister and brother during the day while my mother works as a cook at The Tin Hut, and my father works for Mr. Baker at the bank as a clerk.  My sister Louisa is studying to be a seamstress.  You should see her sewing.  It’s spectacular.”

“Hmm.  You know what I think is spectacular,”   He gazes up at the sky pointing, “That moon.”  He stops and stares at it for a moment.  I look up at the moon and notice that he’s right.  It’s an unusally bright moon tonight.  I had noticed earlier, but since he pointed it out it seems to have grown.

“Yes.  It’s lovely.  Isn’t it?”

“And so are you.”  He looks at me intently for a second and then continues walking.

We continue walking for a few minutes in silence.  I notice the quiet sweetness of the night around me – the rustling of the grass beside the dirt road and then a dog faintly barking in the distance.

“My house is just up this block,” I point at the blue wooden house at the end of the street with the rose bush near the gate in front.

We walk a bit further and then, “It’s been nice meeting you Beth.  I hope we can see eachother again soon.  I’m going to be very busy.  Mr. Cook has us working long hours, but I would like to see the lake with you first.”   He stands directly in front of me and looks into my face and removes his hat.

“That would be keen.  Shall I arrange for a chaperon?”

“No.  I don’t think that will be necessary.  We’ll manage.” He takes my hand, and then adds, “It’s been a pleasure,” before kissing my fingers and then returning it to me.  He flips his hat forward again and then strolls away whistling quietly.

For the first two days after my first meeting with George I was thrilled.  I had met the man I always dreamed would come.  I was over the moon.

Then a week went by and I didn’t see him anywhere.  Then another week went by and there was still not a sight of him.  It was puzzling.

By the end of that second week I started to worry.  They were the sort of things that go through your mind when you’re starting to love someone and yet you can sense that something is amiss.  In those two weeks I had replayed our first meeting over and over again in my mind and in those moments I started to see him more as a dream come to life.  Every time I saw his eyes again in my mind they became increasingly attractive and alluring.  When they say that people fall in love I believe they’re using the right verb.  It really is like falling.

“Where do you think he could be?  Is he even in town anymore?”  I am walking down Myer’s Lane with Gracie and we’re talking about it.

“I saw Pat two times last week and once this week.  We’re going fishing tomorrow.” Gracie looks puzzled.  “He didn’t say anything about George leaving.  I did ask him about George though indirectly and he said that George goes to Simpson’s.”

“When?”

“At least a few nights a week, I guess.”

I hadn’t much experience with going to bars or people who went to them.  My father would go occasionally, but it wasn’t often or even really more than a few times a year and then, if he did go, it was with friends of his from the men’s league.

“When does he go?”

“Every couple of days, I guess.”

I resolved to find him, even if I found the worst to be true, it was better than not knowing anything at all.  If there was anything I had learned from reading all those novels my mother pestered me about spending my days with, it was that a person should always find out the facts.  Star-crossed love and missed opportunities may befall one in life, but I had resolved to never just sit back and allow it.  It would have to be my misfortune only while I was fighting against such a fate.

At church I sat with my mother and father.  It was hot today.  Too hot.  The church felt like an oven even with all of the windows open, but then again, this is how it always felt this time of the year.  Mrs. Olson sat faning herself two pews ahead of us with her purple dress blowing a bit by the neck from the breeze she was creating.  She smiled quiety listening to the homely.  I wondered what made her so content with the words she heard.  I was listening to the same thing.  And then I looked at Mr. Olson sitting next to her.  They looked so happy to be with each other, and in any case, even if they weren’t that happy their lives weren’t in limbo.  I was sure of that.

My life felt as if it was in limbo.  I was falling in love with a man who had disappeared, and I couldn’t stop thinking about him.  I didn’t know how to handle this situation.  I had never read about anything like this and there was no one to ask. Not really.  There was also the question of what I was going to do come the fall.  My mother had plans for me to stay with her sister in Minneapolis for a year with hopes that I might find a husband or some sort of employment.  It was all so complicated.

Here I was sitting in church planning to haunt the bar on Third Street for most of the afternoon and evening looking for a man I barely knew.  It all felt a bit wicked and dishonest.

After church finally ended, and I had finished lunch with the family and helped wash the dishes, I left.  I walked awkwardly down Third Street until I reached the bar.  When I finally found myself at Simpson’s I was filled with dread and nervous anticipation.  What exactly was I going to do?  I sat there for a half an hour planning.  I doubted every idea that came to me, but settled on a simple plot.  I would ask the barkeep, Mr. Svenson, if he had seen George recently and if he did any time in the next week to tell him that a man from the city was looking for him and would like to meet him in the front of the bar Monday evening at 6:30.

I walked in the bar and approached Mr. Svenson, he looked perplexed to see me and stop and froze in position.  “Hello, Mr. Svenson.  Have you seen a man named George Calder here recently?”

“Why, yes.”  A rather short man, he spoke with a thick Swedish brogue that shook his entire being, “Are you looking for him?  Is everything ok Miss Andersen?”

“Everything is fine.  I just saw a man outside who asked me if I knew him.  He’s been looking for him he said.  He had some important papers to give him or something.”  Mr. Svenson’s eyebrows shot up and he looked intrigued.  His gentle, kind face was searching the mystery.

“I’ll be sure to let him know.  What was this man’s name?”

“He didn’t say.  He just mentioned that he would be around here at the bar, tomorrow evening after suppertime looking for him.”  I was scared by how easily I lied.  It felt very unpleasant and I began to doubt the entire thing.  Lying to man as nice as Mr. Svenson was particularly distateful.

“Ok Miss. I’ll be sure to let him know if I see him.”   He smiled.  “I sure hope he’s not in any trouble.  He seems like a friendly man.  Have you met him?”

“Yes.  I did once.”

“I’ll be sure to tell him.”

“Thank you.”

He nodded and smiled.  I smiled and left.  As I was walking out I looked down maintstreet, on the other side of the bar, and saw a man approaching, wearing a blue suit.  It appeared to be George.  I froze.  There he was, all of him.

As I walked forward toward him I had no conception of what I would do or say, so I just figured on letting myself decide when I finally reached him.

“Hi.”  I looked at him directly, a bit confrontational.

“Oh, Miss Andersen.  I had forgotten about our lovely walk until just this moment.  That night was like a dream, and it’s suddenly coming back me in pieces.”  He stops and looks at me quietly. I look down at my feet.

“Yes.  Well, anyway, good finally seeing you,” I say shortly as I start walking off.

“Wait.  Beth.  Wait a second.” He winces as he turns to look at me.  “I really did forget.  I’ve been very busy see, and these last two weeks have gone by faster than you might believe.”

I stop and look at him questioningly.

“I do feel bad.  Let me make up for lost time.  Let’s have a picnic dinner by the water this evening.  I’ll see if Pat can come with your friend Gracie and we’ll have a nice time of it.”

“That could be nice, but I’m not sure.”

“Oh of course.  I do hope you’ll come though.  It’s hot today so it’s the perfect sort of day to be next to the water.  Right?  Isn’t that what you said?”

“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt anything.”

“Fine.  Fine.  I’ll set the whole thing up.  Just meet me at four by the pier.”

“That sounds ok.”

“Great.”  He smiles brightly.  I look down at my feet again and then back up at him.

“I’ll see you then.”

“Lovely.”  He smiles again brightly and then is on his way.  I walk down the street in the opposite direction for a while and then turn around to see where he went.  It appears that he is indeed headed towards the shipyard.  Hmmm.  The shipyard on a Sunday.  It did match with his story of being busy.

At evening as I approach the pier I feel very light footed.  It’s turned into a beautiful late afternoon.  The water is glistening and blue as the sun shines off to a million places.  Green is everywhere and the sky is clear, fresh and expansive.  The air has cooled some and there’s a very slight breeze lifting the air every which way.  I look towards the pier and see Sarah and Pat facing each other.  Then I see him.  He’s standing there, bronzed and glistening.  He looks up at me approaching and we make eye-contact for a second.  He grins at me.

“Beth,” he says before I fall quietly into a state that feels a like a trance, and he takes my hand.

This week has been crazy.  It’s looking more and more likely that we’ll be moving now, and I’m trying to start preparations for everything.  I’m adjusting to the idea of leaving but I’m probably not ready yet to really face the idea fully.  I am excited though…

I asked our son what he thought of moving.  He seemed to be fine with the idea…

Sigh.

At any rate I found three bottles of nail polish under the bed when I cleaned yesterday…   And they’re all great summer colors too.

🙂

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