Tante Marguerite's Blue Eyes and 50 Roses
Even though she came from a very bourgeois family, she decided at 18 to become a theater actress.
She went to the Paris Conservatoire where she met my grandfather, Rolla Norman. She introduced him to her eldest sister whom he married a few years later.
She also met her husband there. Oncle Jean actually ended up being a famous playwright whose plays are still performed all over the world.
She did not like children. She never had any children by choice.
But she was not rude to children as long as they knew how to behave i.e. when they were very quiet, very well-mannered and listened to her.
Tante Marguerite was a true performer. She probably never knew how to live a real down-to-earth life.
When I was a teenager, I remember standing completely in awe for her. Probably because everybody else in the family worshipped the ground she walked on. She had quit acting a long time ago but she was the ultimate actress.
She may have been acting almost every day of her life but there was no doubt about one thing. She had been a beautiful girl. She had turned into a very beautiful woman and she was aging beautifully.
I still remember her blue eyes. Heavily made-up. But so beautiful. She had a very mysterious way of looking at you, very strange. She probably was very near-sighted. But she sure knew how to look at people.
I’m sure that no one has ever forgotten Tante Marguerite’s blue eyes especially when she added something like: ‘Darling...’ uttered with this magnificent smile of hers and a soft and husky voice. So sexy.
‘Darling’ was the word all actresses and actors would start their sentences with. A very hypocritical word if I may say so. Tante Marguerite was extremely talented in using this ‘Darling’ thing.
‘Chéri(e)’, she’d say. And we’d all swoon.
The story I am about to tell happened when she was a very old woman. She was a widow and she’d have lunch quite often at my aunt Monette’s home. (Monette being her sister’s daughter.)
Tante Marguerite was always late. She loved making a very theatrical entrance.
We were too well-mannered to give her a standing ovation. We’d smile at her. Then each one of us would get a peck on our cheek. Only one. Then she’d step back and murmure a ‘Darling’ that made us all melt, even my very sarcastic uncles.
One Sunday, she was very late. My aunt Monette, the perfect cook, was worrying about whatever what was cooking in her kitchen.
Then Tante Marguerite’s cab came up to the door. She got out.
She was wearing a vast and black velvet cloak, the type of garment that never went unnoticed.
And she was holding a bouquet of 50 long-stemmed red roses. Since she was a very diminutive women, all you could see was the roses once the cab driver put them in her arms. The roses and her eyes.
She was jubilant.
My aunt Monette went to her to take the bouquet off her hands. Tante Marguerite waved her aside.
‘No, darling. Those roses are not for you. They are mine.’
And she told us the story.
She was at her favorite flower shop because she wanted to bring Monette a (small) bouquet.
A man came in.
‘Darling, he was quite young. Sixty, I’d say.’ (She was getting closer to 90 than 80 if I remember well.)
He took one look at her in her vast billowing black cloak. I’m sure she then glanced at him with her beautiful myopic blue eyes.
‘I would hate to be forward, Madame. May I tell you that your eyes are the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen?’
(Why didn’t I get her genes?)
She smiled at him. Her smile was enchanting, matching perfectly the wonderful blue eyes.
He then turned to the florist and asked for 50 red roses. ‘The most beautiful roses for a very beautiful woman.’
Tante Marguerite was so enthralled by the bouquet that she forgot completely to buy flowers for her niece.
We had a very interesting Sunday lunch.
The older generation wasn’t at all surprised by Tante Marguerite’s story. They had known her as a much younger and very beautiful woman, admired by the Paris smart-set.
The younger ones (the girls) were very surprised and maybe a tiny bit jealous.
Our world was not a world where unknown men would buy 50 roses to us, especially not for the beauty of our eyes.
You see, none of us girls had inherited Tante Marguerite’s looks and blue eyes.
Oh well. Life had to go on. With or without Tante Marguerite’s blue eyes.
*Good Luck, and Good Night* and a Happy New Year to all o