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Mothers and Daughters: All Dressed Up

"Um... Mom, maybe it would look better if you wore a little makeup," my daughter Emily said. "I am," I replied. "Oh. Maybe you should use a bit more," she added.

I spent the majority of the day in the comfort of my air-conditioned hotel room, memorizing and re-memorizing my lines.

Standing at the window looking out, flung across the bed bellowing lines at the ceiling, or pacing the small space between the desk and the foot of the bed with my digital tape recorder in my hand, trying to get Martha's lines embedded in my DNA before June 8th when we start rehearsals for Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.

There was a lull when the mini-bar lady came to check the contents of the mini-bar. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but she ended up staying for a good 30 minutes, sharing stories about her three sons, all grown.

She told me she had always wanted for a daughter.

She was 63, and still, as she spoke of it, I could see the wistful longing in her face. She was a very sweet woman who wrapped me in the warmest hug upon leaving my room and I was reminded of being a child and the safety I felt in my mother's arms.

I worked a few more hours on the script. Then donned my I'm-going-to-a-fancy-restaurant-and-then-Lincoln-Centre-for-the-Norman-Jewison-retrospective clothes; all of them scavenged hand-me-downs from my sister Jennifer's massive closet. I dabbed a little make-up on my face and was about to exit the bathroom when I remembered my last outing with my daughter, Emily.

"Um... Mom," she said, both of us standing outside the change rooms garbed in possible purchases. "I was thinking, now that you're doing lowlights in your hair, maybe it would look better if you wore a little makeup."

She's been on a mom-renovation kick. She does it discreetly, with subtle, helpful suggestions. Emily and my sister combined forces recently and got me to banish most of the well-earned grey from my hair.

I blinked, surprised. "I am."

"Oh." She looked at my face, squinting slightly. "Um..." she said. "Maybe you should use a bit more."

"Okay." I nodded. "Good idea, honey."

"I don't mean to hurt your feelings or anything, it's just --"

"Oh no, my feelings aren't hurt." And they weren't. It made me feel sort of warm and cozy, she had agree to do the blog with me and now here was another project we were sharing. Who cared if the project was me?

Standing in the hotel bathroom, remembering that conversation, I did an extra go-around with the eyeliner, eye shadow and put on some of the lipstick we purchased for me as well. Then I swiveled and looked in the full-length mirror by the toilet. I had to admit, she was right. That extra zing of makeup made me looked pretty damn good.

Sure, the hem of Jenny's black pencil skirt landed five inches above my knee, a little shorter than I would have liked. However, I purchased some cream colored tights which matched my sister's floating Chanel cream sleeveless blouse with its black looping sash. The outfit was topped off with a lovely pinstriped Armani jacket, also courtesy of Jenny, which gave the whole outfit the appearance of respectability that was needed.

Emily was going to think that her rather staid mother had morphed into a sophisticated class act butterfly and she was going to be proud to be my daughter.

When I stepped out of the hotel I was hit by a blast of hot humid New York heat.

There were no taxis. People were standing on every corner with their arms in the air.

Luckily, I had lots of time and was able to implement plan B. The restaurant was 28 blocks away. That was doable; I would burn off a ton of calories and be able to eat dessert with no guilt. I turned left and started walking. Long strides. I was a modern woman, an older Mary Tyler Moore in the big city, heading out for a night on the town with my grown daughter.

Within two blocks I felt like I'd been hanging out in a steam room. It was clear my jacket had to come off.

Okay, fine. Not quite as respectable, but still, the blouse was very nice and I was wearing tights. Never mind that I was the only person in the entire city stupid enough to don tights in such a god-awful heat wave, at least my legs were covered.

I walked a few more blocks before it become apparent that I needed to shorten my long modern-woman strides because the control top of my tights along with the movement of my legs was causing my skirt to hike up and bunch around my waist.

It is very hard to be a carefree Mary Tyler Moore when one has to discreetly wiggle and tug ones skirt down every 10 steps. Add to that the fact that the texture of my purse was like a cats tongue and every time it bumped against my thigh it hiked that side of my skirt even higher.

I cradled the purse like a football and tried not to think about the plethora of articles that had come out in the last two weeks, braying about all the garments that 'women of a certain age' should not wear. The list is gargantuan and right there at the top of the no-no are mini skirts.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant, my blouse was no longer a stylish floating confection. It was clinging uncomfortably to my moist body. To top it off, a hot flash decided that this would be an opportune moment to pay a visit. It wasn't a brief hello. It decided I was so much fun it would hang around for a while.

I went to the ladies room, sequestered myself in a stall. I rolled the waistband of my tights down over my hips hoping it would reduce the slip-slide action. I used a copious amount of paper towels to mop up my face, neck and other sweaty areas. I reapplied my lipstick, tugged my skirt as far down as humanly possible and went back upstairs to wait for my daughter.

When she walked through the rotating door my breath caught in my throat, she was that beautiful.

We had a nice dinner. I had my napkin spread out to the fullest.

After dinner we attended the screening of Agnes of God at the Lincoln Centre. The movie was beautiful. Watching it, I was plunged back in time, flooded with happy memories. It was such an experience; I was a new mother, my daughter three months old when we started filming. She ate her first banana towards the end of the shoot. Her face was so surprised when she tasted it, unsure for a second and then, she lunged for the baby spoon with both hands, smacking her lips exuberantly. Even now, thinking about it makes me smile.

When the house lights came up, it took me a few moments before I was able to bring my body back into the theatre. People started applauding. I joined Norman Jewison and we walked up onto the stage.

And yes, I did a discreet hearty downward tug of my skirt as I approached my chair, but there was a microphone on the seat I had to pick up, so another vigorous tug was required.

It was an exercise in futility. By the end of the Q-and-A there was more of my thighs exposed than anyone in their right mind would want to see.

My daughter didn't comment on it, but she was probably being nice. After the event was over, we walked out into the night air. Going down the escalator onto the street I was filled with excitement. We were together shooting the movie and we were together now. Who cared if sometimes she got prickly? Life was good.

She hailed a taxi, another stopped for me. There was a lot of traffic, the taxis were waiting, but there was a slight hesitation before she stepped inside and all your voices, your comments on last weeks blog were in my head and I thought, this is my chance, so I hopped off the curb and gave her a big hug and then kissed her head for good measure!

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