It was in Monte Carlo, at the end of a long European Poker Tour Grand Final. Lisa and I were leaving that afternoon so decided to actually do some “shopping” in the city. Now, envision the scene from Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts is walking down Rodeo Drive carrying almost more shopping bags than she can handle. Good, now completely erase that view from your mind, because that wasn’t me. I thought maybe I could afford one pair of pants and perhaps a shirt.
After a few false starts we found ourselves at the Hugo Boss store in the large “mall” in the center of town. I found a pair of jeans that I liked (they look nothing like any of the Wranglers I ever bought), but none of the shirts I tried on worked at all for me. The shop lady (in her 20’s?) brought over a beautiful linen shirt and said “Try this.” I said “No thank you.” You see, that shirt was pink. Not a subdued Miami Vice pink, but a fairly hot take-no-prisoners pink. I mean, the material was butter soft, obviously well made, but pink?
“I’m, um, 55 years old,” I reminded the shop gal. “You have to try on that shirt,” she said. “Oh go on and stop being a fuddy duddy” said Lisa. So I went in the dressing room. When I came out, the shop girl and Lisa both said that it was exactly the right shirt for me. But seriously – was I going to trust my wife and a woman who stood to make a healthy commission on the sale?
Luckily for me, there was a new judge in town. While I was in the dressing room (I guess), a couple had come in. He was trying on clothes, she was sitting in a chair immediately next to the dressing room providing advice and guidance. Both of them I would have said were in their mid-70’s, and looked, well, awesome. As if life had been not only good to them, but good to them in such a way that they never took it for granted. They certainly had money (they were shopping at the Hugo Boss store in Monte Carlo) but they carried it the way the best wealthy people do – in their inside pocket.
Of course, after Lisa and the shop lady had proffered their opinions, I wanted a different perspective. I turned to the woman in the chair, and said “Et vous, madame?” She turned to look up and I was mesmerized by her crystal blue eyes twinkling back at me – she must have been a stunner in her youth and she was still beautiful. She took a moment to review the shirt, smiled at me and said,
Verily, I was never leaving the shop without that shirt. We chatted for a bit, me in my poor French and her extremely gracious about tolerating it. She said that she and her husband were both 80 and he had a shirt that color, so why shouldn’t I?
Eventually the purchases were paid for and put into their Hugo Boss bag (I didn’t even pay attention to the financial damage), I went to the lady, took both her hands in mine, and told her in (likely grammatically egregious) French that I would remember her every time I wore the shirt. She smiled and told me that I looked handsome in it.
Until the European Poker Tour in Barcelona, Spain, which is going on right now, I hadn’t worn the shirt that much, but I’ve worn it twice during the trip – I have probably gotten more compliments on it than, well, all the shirts I’ve ever worn in my life, combined. Every compliment I get (and I do get a few from men) is a delight; it’s all I can do not to preen like a 16-year-old. But the fact of the matter is that the best compliment I’ll ever get for that shirt came the day I bought it, when that beautiful 80-year-old woman smiled at me with those cerulean eyes and said “J’adore ça.“