Many Many, way too many years ago my friend J. Banks Hyde came to my rescue in a way that only a really handsome, debonair, – Cary grant should be so attractive, confident he-man can do.
I was working in the Bush Administration and there was a function at the Shoreham that was a command appearance. I had been dating someone also in the Administration who had very publicly broken up with me just days before. I had a dress, tickets, a hair appointment- and no date. So naturally, the event became more important. And as though I were not miserable enough, I had spent a month’s salary on a dress that was supposed to wow the now Ex. I had gone to my mother’s dress shop and no one I know would have ever been there- way too pricey and sophisticated. But on my last fitting, I emerged from the dressing room to see the EX with the new girlfriend selecting dresses for her to try on. It may just be a bad fog of a memory- but I think I remember that he was also paying for them.
Totally dejected, I started the march back to Georgetown and my water for every meal diet so that the dress would fit. I got to the Guards on M Street and every instinct said, go in; be with friends, have a martini- it looks like water.
I am telling the story to a group of friends when -seriously- the handsomest man I knew, Banks Hyde- said, “Hell, I’ll go with you!” He was my miracle.
The day of the big event- or so I thought- started with my waiting in line for the dress that was still not finished- most likely because they were waiting on HER. I waited so long for the dress to be ready that I missed my hair appointment. So when the doorbell rang right on time I answered in a bath robe, no make up and in a panic. Banks got out of the way and made himself a cocktail in the kitchenette while I unsheathed the gossamer dress.
But something wasn’t right…all the beads and the sparkles that before splayed across my front- were now in the back and the front was plain…..or was it? Oh God, no! They sewed the bra in the back of the dress. I screamed and Banks yelled out, “I’m coming in!”
He stood over me, wearing a white dinner jacket. His hair groomed, shoes polished- holding a clear florist box with a magnolia. I am in a heap of towels and plastic and misery on the floor. He held an expression of confidence and infinite patience and I looked like a dog who had made a mistake in the house.
We examined the dress and decided that there was no safe way to remove the fake boobs without permanent injury to the dress. So I put the dress on and wore it- backwards. We fortified ourselves one last time before entering a room full of Republicans – hardly his scene. By the time he threw open the doors to the ballroom – he was all swagger and charm and he had convinced me that from now on- all women would wear the design on the butts of their dresses.
He roared with genuine laughter when he was introduced to the EX. And gave me a look that an older brother gives a sister when she has brought home someone not worthy. He held the table spellbound with his jokes and stories and as the evening began to wane, he asked me dance. He danced like he looked. At one point, he turned me toward him and whispered, “trust me. When I give the word go stiff.” He spun me back out and then I saw the nod. He slipped a foot under my heel and I went stiff as he dropped me within a hair of the floor. Then whipped me back up into his arms to the gawks and aaahs of the tables near us and said just loud enough, “shall we go on to the next party?”
That night he was my miracle and I can’t help but think that he was for many of his friends in many different ways. Thanks, Banks!