The Chronicles of Kate & the Grit Girls: 17

Bellamy is a quaint little town, sleepy and serene. Our drama is mostly made up in people’s heads and the crime rate is very low. It’s a perfect place to raise a family. But when you want to do something a little more grown up, it presents a problem. There’s not much to do, and even if you find something, the whole town is there to witness any blunders that may happen.

Reedy River Falls, Greenville, SC (C) Allison Wells 2019

So every so often we venture to Greenville for a girls night. It’s the big city for us, complete with tall buildings, tons of foot traffic, and restaurants galore. It’s also very picturesque. Why, there’s a waterfall that goes right through the middle of the city. It’s amazing.

The Grit Girls loaded up for a night away, having booked a room at one of the nicest hotels in the city – the Westin Poinsett. The hotel is nearly 100 years old and gorgeous. The floors alone are amazing. We had a beautiful corner room on the 4th floor that overlooked Main Street below. I could have sat and watched people go by all night, but Delia and Frankie Ann wanted to be out among them.

We started off with dinner at our favorite little restaurant called The Swan Dive. I think the owner was an Olympic swimming or something. But all the tables face the huge open windows where the people watching is at its prime.

With dinner ordered – the duck for Delia, a massive salad for Frankie Ann, and steak for me – we began to watch the passers by. A huge black SUV pulled up to the bar across the street and unloaded a gaggle of young ladies. One was wearing a birthday sash and a skirt much too short. Her friends were carrying balloons that said “21” on them. The bound into the car with fits of giggles.

“Did you go out like that for your twenty-first?” I asked the others.

“We had a party at home and my parents opened their wet bar. It was amazing,” Delia said.

Frankie Ann nodded, “Oh yes, I partied like this girl. I don’t remember most of it.”

My birthday is a holiday where everything is closed. There was no crazy celebrating for me. “Hm,” I thought out loud, “I guess I missed out.”

Next a group of young men passed in front of us. One reached out to Delia, “Hey, wanna dance?” He began to show off some fancy footwork while his friends kept going. Blushing, Delia, waved him on.

“There’s live music a few blocks up. Let’s go over after we eat,” I suggested.

The live music ended up being beach music, which is not my favorite, but it is easy to dance to. We made our way to the edge of the dance area and began to move to the rhythm. Older couples danced the Shag, young children ran past us with their parents trying to keep up. Groups gathered together to talk and dance or people watch as the sky began to dim.

One couple near us looked like professional dancers as they glided around, the man twirling his partner and the woman looking as graceful as a ballerina. I admired their finesse and wished Chase knew how to dance. Or that I knew how to dance for that matter. I had gone to charm school, but I never did the dancing part of it.

Someone had asked Delia to dance and she accepted. Frankie Ann and I watched as she slid right into the steps, her left leg kicking out, her hips swaying.

“Did you know Delia could dance like that?” Frankie Ann asked.

I shook my head, “No. But I’m not surprised. I think she did cotillion in Charleston.” I pulled out my phone and snapped a few pictures of my friend, glad her husband wasn’t the jealous type. Nathan was as easy going as it got.

After a while, we found seats and watched the crowd’s comings and goings. A lover’s squabble to the left, a father dancing with his little girl on the right.

“I wish we had things like this in Bellamy,” Frankie Ann commented. “I would love to see my husband and daughter dance. And I could teach the boys.”

“We should plan something. Surely this band, or another band, would come out and play for us,” I said.

“It would be perfect in the fall,” Delia added. We all nodded in agreement.

We settled into a comfortable quiet between us, watching the people as they moved all around.

Back at our hotel room, we readied for bed. We turned on an old movie and painted toes and put on face masks. I challenged the girls to play truth or dare.

“Frankie Ann, truth or dare?” I asked.

“Dare,” she said with a giggle.

“I dare you to go a full week without makeup,” Delia said.

You might as well have asked Frankie Ann O’Malley to kiss a skunk. “Not on your life, Delia Honeycutt. I could never. I switch to truth.”

We laughed. “What are you most scared of?” I asked.

She patted her face mask to check for wet spots as she thought. “I think I’m most scared of Ewan leaving me. I haven’t had a job in years. The kids overwhelm me.”

I patted her knee. “Oh, darlin’, we all fear that. Especially being at-home moms.”

Delia sighed, “And Ewan adores you, Frankie Ann. You know that.”

“I’m not twenty-three anymore,” Frankie Ann said with a sad laugh.

“None of us are,” I reminded her. “And neither are Ewan, Nathan, or Chase. They’re all getting older, too.”

“Older men are still attractive,” she lamented.

Unable to handle any more sadness, I tried to make her laugh. “Just wait until we’re done with these masks. I’m sure we’ll all look as young as Ariana Grande.”

“Oh, Kate, you’re too much,” she said as she tried to crack a smile. “My mask is cracking.”

When we peeled our masks off we all looked in the mirror, hoping that youthful twenty-five-year-old glow would be back. Instead we found three women in their mid-thirties with remnant of charcoal peel around our faces.

I began to laugh a deep belly laugh. Soon Frankie Ann and Delia joined in. We laughed so hard we were all crying. I had to hold my knees together. Frankie Ann fell to the floor with laughter.

“Oh, girls, you know – those twenty-five-year-olds don’t have any personality anyway,” Frankie Ann said when she caught her breath.

“Amen to that,” Delia said with a raised hand.

And they were right. As the Bible says, “Beauty is fleeting.”

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