When I wrote a story about Phyllis and the vacuum cleaner, I had two requests (granted they were from my two daughters) for more Phyllis stories. So here is the story of my sister-in-law Phyllis and the disappearing earring.
Tom’s 82-year-old sister Phyllis just loves to get dressed up. Now when I get dressed up, I usually put on my multi-purpose black pants and a shirt with some kind of a black-and-white Rorschach ink blot pattern. That’s my idea of dressed up.
But when Phyllis gets dressed up, Katy bar the door! (For anyone under the age of 60, “Katy bar the door” means “watch out—get ready for trouble.”) Phyllis knows how to put together an outfit that includes dazzling colors, low-cut necklines, sparkles, sequins, dangly earrings, clunky bracelets, strappy sandals, spiky hair, and general pizzazz. If I wore the same outfit, it would look like a Halloween costume. When Phyllis wears it, she looks an 82-year-old Cleopatra getting ready for a night out on the Nile.
At a family wedding several years ago, Phyllis was dressed to kill. She was classy and dazzling, her earrings a four-inch dangle of polished metal. At the reception, she sat at a tableful of family—eating, laughing, and telling stories.
All of a sudden there was a frantic public clamor. One of Phyllis's four-inch dangly earrings had disappeared.
Relatives crawled around on the floor under the table, searching for the missing jewelry. Phyllis looked under her chair, in her purse, on the table, inside her napkin. But the earring was gone—seemingly vanished into thin air. She was distraught. The missing earring threw off the entire effect of her haute couture.
A little later, my daughter-in-law tactfully suggested one more place Aunt Phil could look. Aha! There it was! Somehow the earring had slid off her ear, plunged into the low-cut neckline of her wedding outfit, and ended up lodged in the depths of her senior-citizen bosom.
Phyllis is not one to hide her light under a bushel basket. Soon everyone at her table knew that the lost had been found. With only a small bit of encouragement, she would even show them where it had been found. And somehow, eventually nearly everyone at the wedding reception had heard the earring story.
That might have been the end of the tale. However . . .
Last March, we were in Arizona, sitting around the table eating dinner with several family members. Aunt Phyllis was at the head of the table, calmly eating her dessert, when suddenly a small piece of chocolate cake dropped off her fork. She stopped cold, her fork suspended in midair. She searched her lap. She examined the front of her shirt for tell-tale chocolate smudges. She shook her napkin.
Then in a flash of déjà vu, she remembered her previous experience, and her hand disappeared into the low-cut front of her blouse. When her hand re-emerged, she was triumphantly holding the piece of chocolate between her thumb and her pointer finger. “Oh!” she exclaimed happily. “Here it is!” She popped the chocolate cake into her mouth.
The “five-second rule” evidently applies not only to food on the floor but also to food in your cleavage. Thank goodness we have our family matriarch, Aunt Phil, to pass down the rules of jewelry retrieval and fine dining to the next generation.