“Well hello there. Allow me to introduce myself! I’m Ms. Holly Jolly, the most jolly of all Laguna-nites,” she said as she glided into the room, hand out-stretched, fully expecting me to take it and gently press my lips upon her fingers, like a knight would with a fair damsel.
So old school I thought, but also how delightful and charming. I decided to play along and took her hand. “Are you visiting from out of town?” she said, almost purring as she fluttered her eyes and slightly swished her hair.
“Yes,” I said, breathing out the word. “I heard Laguna was the perfect place to get away from it all,” I said, while I drank in the fragrance of her hair. It was true that I had needed to get away, not just from the terrible Midwestern weather, but from all those dreary, weary people, and, also, from my lonely self.
“How marvelous!” she exclaimed, “how simply marvelous, and how fortuitous that you’ve come to the fabulous Hotel Laguna and bumped into me, the most jovial and jolly of all!” Well, I thought, it was not true that I had bumped into her, but I’d let it lie. Her mood was wonderfully contagious.
“I’m the best person to be with this time of year as I just love everything there is about this place,” she gushed. I was definitely warming to her. “So, how long have we got?” she asked, surprised by the look on my face. She corrected herself by saying, “I mean, how long will you be in town for, so that I can focus on where we need to go?”
“Oh that’s very kind of you, but I don’t want to be too much bother, and I hardly know you, it’s so very kind,” I said, hoping immediately that she would counter. And, to my delight, she said, “Oh it’s no bother at all, in fact I’d like nothing more. We’ll have the most terrific time together. I’ll tell you a little about me, and then you can do the same, and just like that, we’ll feel like we’ve known each other for years.” She beamed at me with her periwinkle blue eyes. “I am the youngest of five girls, born in South Carolina. My Daddy raised us right. ‘Ladies,’ he’d say, ‘be sure you’re always kind and for heavens sake, always look like the ladies you are’!” She giggled, her small frame with ample bosom (not that a gentleman looks) moving up and down with joy. My turn next, I thought, and committed myself to keeping it short and sweet. “My name’s Marty. I live alone. I’m from the Midwest. I hate the cold. I like the beach and romance novels,” I said, which earned me a smile that lit up her face.
“Well, we’ll get on just dandy then Marty from the Midwest. Let a moment not go to waste,” she said as she gently took my arm and guided me out the door and onto Coast Highway. We strolled towards Main Beach and walked by the artists on the green and the children in the park. We passed what looked like the regulars – readers on the bench, dogs walking their owners, teens shooting hoops on the courts, and a man with a Frisbee doing tricks. Everyone seemed to be smiling and happy and acknowledging of us as we walked together. Ms. Holly hooked her arm in mine. We continued to wander along, the sun beginning to set, the soft glow of fairy Christmas lights up in trees, lampposts and stores all along the main street lighting our way. All the while, Ms. Holly shared stories about different artists, the best restaurants and most importantly, the best place to have a medium cream sherry.
“Isn’t this just magical?” Ms. Holly said as she sighed contentedly. “Are you happy now?”
I thought about how I felt at that moment. I felt good, really good. Jolly in fact. This is exactly how I had imagined it.
I looked down. I looked around. Ms. Holly Jolly was nowhere to be seen. Her job was done!
Debra Buxon is an aspiring writer who loves a good sherry.