By Vernalee

It started with my simple walk to the hotel lobby to deliver my best friend’s I pad; it ended with a unified bonding of four women who realized that we had more in common than not. Graduating from a scattered group to an unbreakable circle of cohesiveness is no small feat; but by evening’s end, we were committed to build further on the solidarity that we had established for an enjoyable eight hours. Yes, you read it right! We pulled an eight hour shift in the lobby that day!

It was more than tremendous fun and exciting games. Our experiences were hyphenated with lessons in friendship; punctuated with professional camaraderie that we swore upon the Cherokee oath to maintain. Though we did not cut our wrists to become blood sisters, the longer we talked – we realized that we have walked in each other’s moccasins. Our departure was sealed with the “Waiting to Exhale” embrace; we became bonded in an extraordinary way with a longing to preserve the uniqueness of our developing relationships. Naturally, we pledged that “what happens in Philly at a national convention stays in Philly!”

Let me paint the visual scene for you. Virtually travel with me to the lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott. Take a glimpse at four executive women – drinking, eating, talking smack, shooting the breeze, listening to the background music of the groovy Philadelphia sound of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “The love I lost” as we entertained ourselves and the numerous guests who wandered into our domain. Judiciously holding court in the lobby’s bar section, we were seated on two decorative chairs and a leather sofa. Out of our mouths came a continuous flow of conversational 411 verdicts on numerous people who approached the intersection of the lobby space that we occupied; temporarily owned, and called home, at least for that eight hour day. Unbeknownst to the passerby’s who approached us, we were sizing them up; particularly, the males.

Holding the figurative gavel as pronouncements were read was none other than the Mississippi Diva, a self-imposed and I must add well deserved and befitting title. Women like the Mississippi Diva only come around once every blue moon. Although I am from Mississippi, I am not referring to me; I do not own this covenant title, at least not yet. It belongs to another. This chosen one, unofficially elected the leader though none of us voted,
had an encompassing magnetic force to her spirit that drew person after person to her, and ultimately to us. What a skill set! Unanimously, she would be inducted in the Popularity Hall of Fame if there was one. Introductions to people, places, and things (mostly men) gracefully flowed out of her mouth. Do know that there are countless benefits from being around Miss Popularity! Who knows who you may meet or who may meet you when you are in the presence of someone who knows everybody!

In amazement, we all watched as she charismatically dished out her ubiquitous clichés. Delighted to see her fans, this diva eloquently gestured her well-practiced Queen Elizabeth hand wave to passersby’s as they warmly greeted her.

What was her draw? What made everyone stop, pull up a chair and talk to her as they joined our crowd? Was it her charismatic personality, wit, influence or southern charm? Was it her past chairmanship of a national association? With unresolved ambiguity, we knew not the correct response. We were however clearly cognizant that her appeal was unparalleled and worthy of duplication.

Her winsome demeanor was as captivating as her conversations. She told us about the countless young women who came to her for tips and lessons on engagement. To hear her tell it, “I may be a middle aged plus sized woman, but I can put these skinny Minnie’s to shame.” Unequivocally, we and others concurred.

One after one the conference attendees stopped at our temporary owned lobby nook; quote after quote, greeting after greeting, the diva rendered. Respectfully, she introduced us to the guests that we did not know. Nothing beats a confident woman who shares her contacts! I love friends who are selfless and will share. Don’t you?
Men kissed her hand over and over again. As their attention was affixed to her like superglue, she put several of them on the hot seat with her interrogation and scrutiny as if they had been naughty. Amazingly, none of them resisted and they even acted like they enjoyed every minute of her chastisement. Go figure? We girls observed, and held on to her every word. Was she a teacher in her own classroom and were we eager beaver students with a desire to learn her secrets? Who knows? What was evident was that we enjoyed the company of each other and when our eight hour conversational shift was over, our synergy was conspicuously evident as clearly the sum of our energies were greater than our individual parts. Our chemistries were amazingly compatible.

As the hours grew, and the drinks intermittently changed from wine to Martinis and back again, we worked up an appetite for food. Of course, it was an added benefit – in that one of the members – was a Marriott executive. Service was extraordinary and personal. Appetizer platters filled the table; after all, the alcoholic consumption had to be tempered with nourishment.

As we collectively heralded from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arizona, our dialogue landed into a zone common to most women. Trust me; there will rarely be a group of women with conversations of any type, (regardless of race, creed, color age, or socioeconomic status) where these two topics will not invariably rise up shouting for release – namely children / family and men.

Without debate, those of us who are Mothers all beam and light up like a 100 kilowatt bulb when we talked about our off springs. As angry as they can sometimes make us, children are our heart’s delight. We love our bundles of joy regardless of their age. They either sit on our laps as babies or rest on our hearts as adults. They never leave us. Never!

Moving on to the next topic; then came as Fred Sanford would prophetically call it, “The Big One.” Hold the drum rolls please! Our emotionally gender driven GPS cruised us to the next conversational stop sign, MEN! And just like the “Big One”, (the heart attack that the comedian Red Foxx joked about), men have the power to cause us women: heartbreak. Hopefully, we can stop the madness before the gravity and intensity of same escalate to a heart attack. Dominating our discussion was the headaches, heartaches and pain, intermingled with the beautiful love and terms of endearment that those wonderful male creatures dispersed in our lives. Let’s just call it a mixture of bittersweet flavoring.

Out of all the gossip, the dialogue, and the critiques came one unifying statement that infused us all. It was then that the commonality among us rose and landed dead center before our eyes.

After demonstrating her phenomenal “knock them of their feet” wine glass kiss – whereby the imprints of her bright red lipstick touches the wine glass of her male acquaintance; sealed with an invisible kiss – our Mississippi Diva uttered, “All I ever wanted was a good husband and four kids.” Neither graced her path. That statement was the common thread that laced us all together. We all wanted the same thing, perhaps excluding of course such a high number of noisy brats. Four children are a bit much for my individual specificity and liking, but… to each its own!

Mind you, the Diva did not waver in her quantification of her statement; her personification of her utopian dream. In her hierarchy of needs, she just wanted the basics. Her wish list did not include qualification specification. She did not say that she wanted her man to have this irresistible Denzel Handsomeness with Prince Charles’s wealth and President Obama’s swag; a mansion with 20 rooms sitting on the hill elaborately furnished with an indoor pool and a white picket fence; four “never do wrong” completely obedient children; a live in housekeeper (although she has one) to prepare her meals and clean her house; annual vacations in exotic cities like the French Riviera; a closet full of clothes like Mariah Carey; weekly spa treatment and the extravagant niceties of life and living; enough money to fill the vaults of the United States Treasury. She undoubtedly felt that she and her man could achieve it all! How about that! She only wanted her man’s warmth, gentleness and his love. The children and the materialism would follow.
With tear filled eyes as the alcoholic beverages kicked in and were taking their toll, simultaneously, we nodded in agreement as we all wanted the same things. In fact, undeniably, most women do!

Breaking it down to its most pristine element, obtaining the basics – a genuine man in tow – is easier said than done; forget about the man with the bells and whistles.

Upon the utterance of the Diva’s wish list, as simplistic as it is and sounds, we pushed our internal panic button as we realized that we had not reached our personal plateaus or achieved our goals. With our biological clocks ticking into the ozone and the number of available, “do right” men becoming smaller and smaller, the culture shock of it all was on a gigantic movie screen previewing before our very eyes.
We wondered how we managed to drift to that point. We all certainly tried to “have it all,” but somewhere along the line and during the years, we discovered that we could dream alone, but the realization of our companionship dreams was a collaborative venture. A cooperative partner was needed to make our dreams come true. That mere fact was the stumbling block, our incoherency of continuously trying to put a square peg in a round hole. A man was the missing ingredient; plain and simple.
But like the “Gone with the Wind” heiress said, “Tomorrow is a new day.” For us, that aged old quote is apropos. We are tremendously happy or “Getting to happy” with what life has brought to our doors. We will not abandon our searches for Mr. Right, (he’s out there…right?) but we will live life to the fullest as we maximize our potential.
We left our newly organized “Waiting to Exhale” session with a deep breath as we were radiantly motivated to turn this old but new page in our book of life. Rising from our seats being a little tipsy, we cannot wait to reunite. The linchpin, “Miss Tucson” herself, who brought us all together, in the first place is connecting us once again. She invited us to the hot 100 degree desert; to her oasis of milk and honey. Who cares about the scorching sun as long as we are harmonizing together! Keeping the camaraderie exchanges are prerequisites for solid bonding. Thus, our next rendezvous will be the Wigwam Jazz Fest to groove with Uncle Charlie, Last name Wilson, Chaka Khan, Gerald Albright and a few others. After we hear them sing those love songs, we will reminisce, walk down our memory lanes, resuscitate ourselves, rejoice at how far we have come and as the old spiritual echoes, “How we got over” (and through it all)!
At the end of the trip, I am positive that we will rejoice in our friendships, good times, and be glad we came! Then we can “exhale!” We can refreshingly let the breath of our growing friendship escape from our nostrils! Arizona …..Get ready for the divas, all four of us….Here we come!

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