Lilly’s best friend is Aubrey. Aubrey has this thing about purple cats. She has a shirt with a purple cat. She talks about purple cats. And in art class, if the teacher tells the class to draw a tree, for example, Aubrey will draw a tree…with a purple cat underneath it. Aside from being cute and almost suspiciously well-mannered, Lilly has excellent taste in friends.
I joined the girls at their hotel room and when I opened the door, I saw what I was dealing with. Miss Lilly had on a sequined St. Patrick’s Day ballcap, a drapey, pink tunic thing over a t-shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. In other words, she looked amazing. And Gramma Rita was not to be outdone. Her multi-colored dress with a bit of personal tailoring and “Franken-sewing,” as she described it, coordinated with her toenail polish: one toe blue, one yellow, and so on.
We got lattes, not at the Starbucks across the street, but at the nearby Julius Meinl, a killer Viennese coffee joint. This was my first moment of pride yesterday: 9 out of 10 tourists ain’t gonna know about Julius Meinl. Twenty minutes in, and I was already earning my tour guide stripes.
When we got to the Art Institute, I used the Fons family membership card to fly us past the lines for the Van Gogh exhibit. We saw the Chagall window and then found our way down to the miniatures collection. If you take kids to the Art Institute, make a beeline for the miniatures gallery. Lilly loved it, and so she should: think fully-detailed Downton Abbey sets inside boxes smaller than a breadbox. Unreal.
And how do you suppose high tea was? Lilly and Rita and I inhaled a lot of small, caloric food items while sitting in a burgundy leather booth with cloth napkins on our laps. Rita and I had kir royales and before the tall tea trays came, we played a few rounds of Bananagrams, or something that resembled Bananagrams. All I know is that I spelled the word “sitar” and Lilly spelled “fart.” (That didn’t actually happen but don’t you wish it had? Rita, tell Lilly I said that if you think she’ll laugh.)
I think Lilly enjoyed the last activity most: visiting my condo. I remember how cool it was to see how other people lived when I was that age. It was like, “You put cereal in tupperware?” and “You guys have a trampoline???” and “What’s a waterbed?” Lilly looked around my home with great interest. Then Claus came in and everyone met each other. I asked Rita as I walked her out, didn’t she think Claus was handsome? She said that though she has wanted to see a picture since I mentioned him almost a year ago, I’d better not post his picture or someone will try to steal him. He was looking particularly fetching in a black turtleneck yesterday. Perhaps she’s right.
Thank you, Lilly and Rita, for allowing me to share part of the Chicago birthday trip. Many happy returns, ladies. Use lots of hand sanitizer when you get home.