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05 February 2008 @ 03:47 pm
magnificent woman  

I can tell from thirty feet behind her that she’s neither Irish nor young, because neither the young nor the Irish dress with that much panache.

She has so much thick blonde hair my first thought is that it has to be a weave or a wrap: it falls to the middle of her back, banded with three black loops, and that after it’s already been wrapped around itself to make a solid oval at the back of her head. It’s that particular shade of blonde that a handful of women achieve naturally as they age: enough color to it to say it had once been golden, enough white to have mellowed toward aged wheat.

She’s dressed, collar to heel, in red. A fitted–and I do mean fitted: it follows the curve of her waist like a lover, conforms to her hips with just enough room to sway–red coat made of wool falls to just above her ankles, and below that are rumpled shining leather boots, crimson everywhere except the steel stiletto heels. Her purse, slung over her right elbow and hugged to her body, is red leather, as are her gloves. Her left hand splays out, fashion-model, fingers spread, as she walks.

She turns her head, and yes, I’m right: this is not a young woman; she’s fifty if she’s a day, and very likely sixty, with fine skin with finer lines and large eyes behind browned Audrey Hepburn-sized sunglasses. The intermittent sunshine deserts us and she opens a black umbrella, an occasional piece against all that red.

I pass by and say, “You look fantastic,” and she smiles, surprised, and says, “Oh, thank you!” in an accent that I can’t place, but can displace: she is not Irish, or German, or English. I think she is French or Italian, but then, I thought that thirty feet ago, when she caught my eye.

Half a block later I look back and she’s gone. I think of the woman in the red dress from the Matrix, and I smile all the way home.

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Min: DorisDayFurphantomminuet on February 5th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
That is the woman I hope to be as I grow older.

Only with darker hair. :-)
arielmn: self reflectionarielmn on February 5th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Me too, but as a redhead! So I will wear yellow. :)
Lauraskeagsidhe on February 5th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
There's a reason you're a writer, my friend... :-)

Do you recall the day on the Underground when you told the very well-put-together, sad looking, young woman that you thought she looked great? I can still see the shocked-turning-to-pleased look she had on her face as we got off the train and the door closed.
kitmizkit on February 5th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
I do. I thought of her while walking home, too. :)
Lauraskeagsidhe on February 5th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I love those moments...
Nimtouchstone on February 5th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
I love being able to do that. Now, since I'm a guy, the ONLY way I can give a stranger a compliment on her appearance is if we're headed in different directions - only when it's obvious that this was the whole conversation is it taken as perfectly sincere, rather than my wanting something :) It's great to see the way those reactions go across someone's face, though, and to know you're brightened their day.
Lauraskeagsidhe on February 5th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
It really is amazing the difference little comments like that can make. I recall once during graduate school when I was working on something at the coffee shop and having a bad time of it. A nice older man bought me a cup of cocoa because, as he said, "It's refreshing to see a young person work so hard. Whatever it is you're doing, it's going to come out great." I grinned for a week.
Nimtouchstone on February 5th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
That's great!

And the thing is...it's so EASY.
Lauraskeagsidhe on February 5th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
A lot of the things that make life better really ARE easy. People just get in a hurry or get self-absorbed and forget...
Marithmarith on February 5th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Wow. She sounds stunning. I want to have the confidence to dress like that, darn it. :)
Grace Dudley: Up To No Goodgrian_ruadh on February 5th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. She sounds... exquisite. Anyone my eye trips that hard over in that positive a manner I'd have been temped to ask out for coffee just to have the opportunity to look at her for a little while longer. But then again, I'm a brazen hussy that way and I like older women. ;D
allaboutm_e: Jessica IBadallaboutm_e on February 5th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
I think spontaneous compliments are vastly undervalued, and am glad you shared yours with her!
SaffronRosesaffronrose on February 6th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
What a great visual experience. I usually compliment people who dress exceptionally well or have amazing features of face.