Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

il_570xN.416099203_jnaxThe Husband and I are invited to the country once every summer to visit dear friends for a dinner party.  We drove up this Saturday. I expected to arrive in time to freshen up at their home before the other guests, who have summer homes there, arrived for dinner.  The Husband and I enjoy private time in a car, time without interruption and time for catching up. I always wear something comfortable for the drive but this year I wore something really comfortable but so unattractive that I violated my most important fashion rule: “Don’t wear anything that you would be ashamed of if you are hit by a bus and taken to the hospital.”

We had scheduled more than enough time to arrive early for a change of clothes but then a small town summer parade upended our careful timing, forcing us to take a forty-five minute detour along winding and narrow back roads.  I have been in this situation many times before. Socially, I am often just a bit off in time.  So, I have learned to be resourceful.  The Husband is never surprised when I change clothes in the car.  I am creative and have the thoughtlessness of a sixteen year old when it comes to these daring feats of complete outfit change on superhighways . But my dress for this party was not suited to a clothes change in the car.

It was such a hot summer night. The dress I had chosen was perfect for the weather and the beautiful country setting. It is a dress that is so delicate that I only wear it once a season. I think of it as a gift to those around  me when I wear it, since it is so precious to me.  This dress is a 30 year old cream linen sun dress, tea length, with covered buttons all down the back, and of course it required a strapless bra. I normally put this dress on and don’t even sit down until I am forced to, in order to prevent the linen from wrinkling

Since we were so late, we stopped at the local gas station in the village near our friends’ home so that I could put on my challenging dress.   I went inside and asked for the key to the ladies room and was shocked to hear,  “We closed the restrooms this summer” and “There is no place here where you can change your clothes.”  Even though I was looking directly at a door marked, “Staff only.” Oh, well.

The Husband told me that there was nothing I could do.  There were no other places to change and we were already close to being unfashionably late. A more sensible, less defiant woman of my age would have recognized that it wouldn’t be the end of the world even if I had arrived at this party in cotton Victoria Secret long pajama bottoms and a much washed Brooke Marrone exercise tee shirt.  But I was mad now.  I knew the woman at the counter in the gas station could have loaned me the staff room for one minute.  She was just being petty and I had asked so politely for this favor.  So, I told The Husband that I was going to the back of that gas station next to the garbage dumpster and change clothes.  I was out of those car clothes and into my strapless bra and linen dress in less than a minute. It took another five for The Husband to do up all those buttons and then we were on our way.

We arrived to find that we were not late, we were twenty minutes early.  I think my hostess has learned to give me the wrong starting time for her parties so that I will be on time!  I swanned around in my long linen dress having a cocktail by the beautiful pool while the guests began to arrive.  I certainly didn’t sit down because I hate wrinkled linen.

It was a perfect setting for a summer party. After cocktails by the pool we went inside for dinner.  The table in the screened in porch seated thirty.  It was beautiful to look at, and the food was fresh from local sources and delicious.  Everyone I talked to was witty and attractive.   The Husband and our hostess have a passion for Shirl The Pearl’s Sour Cherry Pie. When we visit this pie is always served as desert.  We especially appreciate the effort that goes into this pie since the hostess has to get up at dawn to pick 70 pounds of fresh cherries  The pie was the perfect ending to a perfect party.  The Husband was given a small cherry pie, made just for him, to take back to the city.

We left after eleven o’clock and I changed back into my car clothes outside the house next to the car where the darkness made this quick change discreet.  We loved our drive home.  We had noticed how friends from other summer parties seemed happier and healthier. We each had met people whom we knew that we would enjoy seeing again.  We were amazed  at the talent our hostess has for bringing together such fascinating people and once again creating a beautiful and memorable party.

We arrived home at 2 am. I put my precious dress into the dry cleaning bag for very special clothes.  We almost made it to bed but The Husband decided that there was no better time for Sherl the Pearl’s Sour Cherry Pie than just then. He brought the pie and two forks with him to bed and we finished it off.

If this is the new Elder Sex, then I am all for it!

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  • Leslie in Portland, Oregon July 23, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Here here!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. July 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I know that linen was made to wrinkle but I am too uptight to have wrinkles!

    Yes we do call them blouses.

  • hillsmom July 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Another good tale. However, may I respectfully disagree with your “worry” about wrinkled linen? I love that it wrinkles because, after all, how would one know it was linen otherwise? It might be taken for (horrors) some type of synthetic. So that reminds me to get busy and iron my linen shirts…er, blouses. (Do we say “blouses” anymore?) BTW, the dress does look lovely.

  • Penelope Marshall July 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Lovely vignette. Thank you.