Jackie glanced at her watch, she was running late. Her boss had suddenly thrown a pile of new accounts at her, saying that she wanted them looked at urgently. As Jackie’s fingers traced over the numbers, her mind raced forward to her lunch date with her girlfriends. ” I should have known this would happen today!” complained Jackie to herself, ” The boss always wants everything tied up when she’s got a half day!” Looking over her shoulder, she glimpsed her boss through the glass panel, laughing whilst talking on the phone. ” How very nice for her!” moaned Jackie under her breadth. With a little sigh of submission, Jackie continued to scour through the accounts. Deep in thought, she felt a hand upon her shoulder, ” Well, I’m off now Jackie, have a great weekend!” purred Jackie’s boss as she sprinted towards the exit. ” Bye Mrs Henshaw, have a great time!” answered Jackie in a time honoured practise of inane politeness. As soon as the dust settled, Jackie switched off her laptop and grabbed her coat and handbag. ” Ladies do lunch” she said to herself with a satisfied grin of someone who had finally had the all clear to escape.
Scurrying along through the corridors, she finally lept out through the main entrance, ” Brrr…it’s getting colder” thought Jackie as she pulled her coat tighter around herself. As she fled down the narow street, she could see the twinkling lights outside the Brasserie up ahead, ” Working the closest and the last one in!” she thought as she strode with larger steps towards the restaurant’s entrance.
” Hello Jackie” said Paul, the Brasserie Maitre-Dean, ” How are you this lunchtime?”
” All the better for being here” answered Jackie, ” Which table are we on today?”
” Number Nine, by the French window seat” answered Paul poilitely.
Scurrying ahead, Jackie could hear the ripples of laughter as she made her way towards table nine. She was late, very late and no doubt the girls had already started without her.
” Oh, hi Jackie!” laughed Candy, ” Glad you can join us!”
The others laughed. There were six of them in all, including Jackie. There was Candy from the bakery; Lilly from the card shop; Roma from the hairdressers; Julie from the solicitors and Beverly from the bank. Six very different ladies from very different walks of life. But, they all had one thing in common, they had all been at school together. And ever since they’d all finished college, they’d made a pact, ” Ladies do lunch! Once a week, every week”.
” You’re late today Jackie?” asked Beverley.
” Yeah, the boss was cracking her whip again!” replied Jackie as she plonked herself down next to Lilly. ” I can see you’ve been on the wine then?” asked Jackie as she glanced aound the table, ” Really on the wine actually! Are we celebrating something today then?”
” Nah – just fancied a change really, most of us have got the afternoon off!” giggled Candy who seemed a little worse for wear.
” We were just talking about ‘ The worst thing that’s ever happened to you’, having a bit of a laugh!” explained Lilly.
Jackie smiled. They always had great discussions, but, somehow she felt a little ‘left out’ today. ” What about the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you though?” asked Jackie, ” Let’s do that one now so I can join in from the start, eh?”
Roma gave Julie a ‘knowing look’, but, Jackie didn’t seem to pick up on this.
” O.K. then Jackie, you start us off then?” asked Roma with a sneaky look towards the others.
The thing was with Jackie, she was always so precise, so concise and this sometimes annoyed Roma who could be a bit tempermental with her stories. There was some competition going on each week as to ‘whom’ could relay the best, amusing story and Jackie always won.
“Actually” said Lilly, ” I think we should go for ‘ What’s never happened to you before’ storyline today”.
Jackie stopped dead in her tracks. She had great respect for Lilly. Lilly was probably her ‘favourite’ one of the group, she was always so considerate and kind to everyone.
” Yeah, come on everyone! Let’s do that one!” shouted Candy across the table, ” I’ll go first! Please, please, please, pretty please?”
Everyone laughed, Candy was so giggly, a wee bit tipsy, they couldn’t wait to hear her story. As Candy started to relay her story between fits of giggles and the odd snort of self amusement, the others listened on in fixated concentration. Jackie ordered her lunch.
” Would Madam like more wine?” asked the waiter.
” Huh, well, I’m o.k. with just a perrier thanks” replied Jackie, ” Does anyone else want any wine?”
The order went in for two more bottles, a port and brandy and a coffee liquer. As the stories went around the table, Candy made her apologies, saying she ought to leave as she felt a wee bit tiddly. Waving to her friends, Cathy left with a smile and a wink towards Roma. Totally oblivious, Jackie munched away at her brie and bacon pannini. They all listened to Julie now, her story seemed to be long winded and intense.
” Do you know what guys, I’m going to have to go too unfortunately!” announced Lilly, ” I’ve got a train to catch later as I’m going away for the weekend”.
” Yeah, I’ll come with you” replied Beverley, ” I could do with getting back home too!”
This left Julie and Roma, who by now were completely in secretive unison, giving each other the odd nod and wink.
” Come on the Roma!” laughed Julie, ” What’s never happened to you before?”
And with that, Roma’s phone began to ring.
” Sorry Jackie, Julie – I’ve got to go, my daughter’s car has broken down in the middle of town somewhere!”
Roma winked at Julie who nestled closer towards Jackie as she finished her last morsel of lunch.
” Well, I’d better go to the rest room, be back shortly!” chortled Julie.
This left Jackie seated on her own. She glanced about her, the table was littered with empty glasses and bottles, ” My! They really went for it today!” thought Jackie. Suddenly, the waiter reappeared at her side.
” The bill, Madam” he offered, with his hand extended out towards her.
Feeling quite shocked at this sudden announcement, Jackie looked around for Julie. Opening the bill tentively, she suddenly gave out a screech. ” What! It’s what!” she cried. And written at the bottom of the bill was a little quotation in familiar handwriting, ‘ Ladies do lunch! But today, you pay!! Bet that’s something that’s never happened to you before, eh?’
And outside the window, five, giggling faces were pressed against the glass. It wasn’t long before they came back inside to share the joke with their friend. You should have seen her face!
Source: My own.