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Nov. 4th, 2016 01:41 am
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
Was she ready to live on her own? She didn't know. But she also didn't think it was a particularly pertinent question, since Gigi hadn't asked her to move in and so far she didn't have to. She mentioned it casually to Ida and Rose, and both of them were scandalized that she'd even think it.

"Men will get the wrong idea!" Rose insisted.

"You'll have to cook for yourself," Ida added. She had adjusted remarkably quickly to having someone else make all her meals, and after years of helping her mother and her sisters in the kitchen, she was more than happy to let someone else do it.

But neither of those things really bothered Sadie. Like Ida, she'd adjusted easily to meals at the residential hotel, but at the same time she missed being able to cook for herself. If she was completely honest with herself, what she really missed was the freedom to make whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. (Not that she'd had much of that freedom at home, but at least the kitchen was available to her at all hours.) But unlike Rose, she didn't care what men thought. She knew she was a respectable girl. It didn't matter what strangers thought of her.

"Your parents won't let you," Rose said. Ida nodded in agreement.

"They probably won't," Sadie agreed. "But I don't need their permission."

"No one will rent to you."

"I don't want to live by myself. I'd have a roommate."

"Who?" Ida asked. "We're not moving in with you."

Rose was in fact trying gamely to feel out Mr Rockland the lawyer without making it so obvious that she was interested in him, but she didn't seem to be making much headway. Sadie thought she was probably being too subtle, but there was nothing to be gained from being thought aggressive. Not a lot of men appreciated a woman who chased after them, rather than letting herself be chased.

At least, they hadn't at home. Maybe New York men were different, and Mr Rockland would like it if Rose were a little more pushy.

Ida had so far expressed little interest in any of the men at the investment firm where she worked, but none of them were Jewish and she wasn't interested in marrying a goy.

Sadie thought both sisters should let themselves just date for a while, just meet men and go out with them for the fun of it, but she only had to mention it once in passing before the twins stared at her, shocked, exclaiming that they weren't fast girls, they weren't going to do that. Ida might be softening, though. Last night Frances had mentioned that her boyfriend had a law school friend who was interested in double-dating, and Ida hadn't looked completely opposed to the possibility.

Frances asked Sadie first, but Sadie just shrugged and said she wasn't looking for a boyfriend just yet. If Frances and her boyfriend wanted another couple to go out with them, the friend (or Frances) should ask Ida.

Sadie didn't dislike living in the residential hotel, aside from the lack of sewing machine, the curfew, and the fact that she couldn't just walk into the kitchen and make herself - or one of her friends - a snack. It was safe and secure, the rooms were neat and clean, someone else did her laundry, someone else cleaned up after meals, and there was a pool and a gymnasium in the basement. Frances had been talking about finding a place to play tennis, but Sadie didn't know how and didn't want to spend the money to equip herself enough to learn.

So she swam and drew dress designs and wondered if she could buy a portable sewing machine to put in her room. She didn't need the practice - she'd been sewing by hand and machine since she was seven - but if someday she was going to try and sell her own clothes, or at least get a job designing for someone else's line, she would need samples of her work and a concrete display of her ideas. Besides, producing unique outfits scratched a creative itch, and she liked being able to make her own clothes tailored to her own shape and coloring, rather than having to alter something made ready-to-wear.

A few days after her visit to the Cotton Club with Frances and Emmy, Gigi called on her at the residential hotel. Sadie was just going down to dinner when a girl knocked on her door to say she'd just come up from the lobby where there was someone waiting.

"Who?" Sadie asked. She didn't know anyone who would come see her here, and if it was her mother's cousin Lily, she would have let Sadie know first.

"She said her name was Gigi," the girl said, an unimpressed expression on her face.

It actually took Sadie a minute to remember who Gigi was.

"What is she doing here?" she asked, mostly to herself, because the girl had continued down the corridor. Sadie fluffed her hair, made sure she had her room key, and went down to the lobby to see what Gigi wanted.

Tonight Gigi was wearing a pale yellow chiffon dress with a pattern on it that looked like broken-up Roman mosaics, with a pale green straw cloche on her head and a light green embroidered shawl hanging from her elbows.

"I was thinking about you today," she said, when Sadie came over to ask why she was here. "I think we can be friends." She took both of Sadie's hands in hers. "I'd like to be friends. The people I know can be... melodramatic and crazy. You're sane, and very sweet. And you're beautiful. Every woman should have a beautiful friend. You be mine, and I'll be yours." She laughed. Sadie was tempted to laugh too, but probably not for the same reason - she'd never been called beautiful, and couldn't believe that anyone would say that about her. Pretty, yes, she'd been called pretty. But beautiful? She was a grocer's daughter from Upstate, and while some of her clothes might be beautiful, she wasn't.

But that night at the Cotton Club, she'd thought Gigi was, in her beaded white dress and rope of pink and silver beads and her shiny, straight dark hair. Her face was immaculately made up, her eyebrows delicately arched, her lipstick bright and red and perfect.

"You're blushing!" Gigi cried. "I made you blush!" She squeezed Sadie's hands. "You're perfect. I'm trying to get rid of my roommate, and then I want you to live with me. I know you remember Victor - you danced with him half the night - he remembers you - he works for a garment wholesaler. He can get you fabric and notions at cost. I have a friend who might be able to help you. Come out to dinner with me and we can get to know each other."

"You sound like you already know me," Sadie said, bowled over by the rush of Gigi's words and the wave of her affection. Sadie had really enjoyed her company at Lucy's, after they'd left the Cotton Club, but in retrospect she'd had to ask herself if that was because she really did like Gigi, or because both of them had had too much to drink.

It sounded like Gigi's affection was genuine. Sadie decided hers had been too.

"Let me get my hat," she said, and when Gigi released her hands she went back upstairs for her hat and purse and a shawl. She'd thought her light blue dress with the green fake belt was stylish when she put it on that morning, but now she just felt plain. But she had a cute hat and she'd borrowed a pretty shawl with daisies on it from Ida yesterday and hadn't returned it yet, and her shoes were polished, so maybe she would be fine.

She knocked on Rosa's door to let her and Ida know she wasn't going to be joining them for dinner, and then skipped down the stairs to find Gigi.

Gigi hooked her arm through Sadie's and led her out of the residential hotel, down the street, and into a taxi.

"I want you to see my place," she said, as the cabbie took them south. "Since you'll be moving in soon."

"Why do you say that?" Sadie asked.

"Because my roommate is moving out in a month and I want you to move in." She flashed Sadie a quick grin. "Victor thinks you should too. So does Layla." Layla was the fourth one in Gigi's party at the Cotton Club, the only one Sadie hadn't danced with. "Carroll doesn't have an opinion."

"How much is the rent?"

Gigi waved her hand airily. "Details, details. We'll discuss it later. We're here." She leaned forward and repeated "It's right here" over the cabbie's shoulder. He pulled over, she paid him, and she and Sadie got out.

It seemed like an extravagance to Sadie to take a taxi when they could have taken the subway, but at the same time, she had to admit she enjoyed it. The very practical, penny-pinching, responsible child her parents had tried to raise was slowly flaking away, leaving the new, carefree, frivolous Sadie in its stead.

The restaurant where Gigi wanted to take her was called The Pepper Pot and was below street level. The ceiling was low and hung with pepper plants and the place was reasonably full.

"There's dancing on the next two floors up," Gigi said, as Sadie looked over the menu and counted in her head how much money was in her change purse. Thank goodness that the residential hotel provided meals, because this place was much more expensive than the Automat. But the menu was large, the other patrons seemed fun and bohemian, and Sadie was starting to think that Gigi could be good for her, showing her new exciting places and introducing her to modern young people.

"What do you think?" Gigi went on, pointing over her menu at the one in Sadie's hand. "I feel like a tomato omelette. We should get a shrimp cocktail as well. How about you? The Virginia ham is delicious."

A tongue sandwich was sixty cents. There was a deli near where she worked that had them for thirty-five. And shrimp cocktail? Sadie had never had a shrimp. Her parents kept kosher and besides, she lived in the middle of the state. The ocean - and thus any shellfish - was far away.

She'd tried ham steaks and pork chops in Albany, in secretarial school and freed from her parents' house for the first time, and liked both of them. Brown sugar ham and pork chops with applesauce, and she'd gotten a BLT for lunch at the Automat once and liked that too. But lunch at the automat - a sandwich and a side of peas - was twenty cents. Nothing on the Pepper Pot menu was twenty cents.

Gigi pushed down on Sadie's menu until it was flat on the table. "My treat," she said. "You'll pay me back by moving in with me and being my beautiful roommate and maybe, someday, designing me a dress." Her perfect painted lips curved in a smile. "I've been told I can be very pushy, but you're here and you haven't told me off yet, and you danced with me at Lucy's, so I don't think you're too bothered."

"I'm not," Sadie said. "But I'm not used to it."

"Welcome to New York." Gigi's grin widened. "Now pick something so we can order so we can eat. I'm starving."

Sadie took her advice and ordered the ham, even though it felt wrong to her to let another girl buy her dinner, and not even an inexpensive dinner at that. She wasn't even sure she'd let a man buy her dinner if they were on a date.

words: 1942
total words: 5841
note: the pepper pot was a real place. i found a menu from 1929.


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