I’m not very good with faces. My husband will tell you I hardly recognize my own children. That’s a lie – but it’s true that I’ve got a problem with identifying people. Several reasons for this are I didn’t get glasses until I was nearly 12, and I’m very shy. Growing up in a fog meant not recognizing people, so I got out of the habit of trying. Therefore, I was horribly shy until I actually got glasses and could greet people I recognized by name. The shyness wore off slowly. I never did get very good at recognizing people.
When my husband and I were engaged, we were invited to a tour of German and English military bases to play polo as part of the American team. Myhusband is French, but he was engaged to an American (me) – he was already in Europe – he played polo – so he was asked to replace an American player who broke his arm. We received a long letter with the schedule, what clothes to bring (nearly every stop had a black-tie dinner organized), and there were various official functions we’d been attending, which meant suits and ties for Stephane, evening dresses for me, along with his polo gear and casual clothes for touring the cities and travel (we were going by bus and plane, everything was organized perfectly). We also brought swim suits (it was July, and several stops included afternoons at public pools.)
The trip went fairly smoothly in Germany – at the first stop, we stayed with an officer and his wife, and she wandered into the bathroom while Stephane was in the bath, perched on the side of the tub, started filing her nails, and proceeded to tell him how much she admired polo. Stef told me he was glad I’d thought to bring along bubble bath! That aside, we had a great visit – the dinners were formal, but the polo games were fun, there were barbecues, and in every club we were able to sightsee, which is how we got to see Bremmen, for example. At one formal dinner, the ladies were expected to leave the room while the men enjoyed cigars and liquer. All the ladies stood, except me, because I hadn’t a clue what was going on. After an awkward moment, our host leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder. “Ladies are having tea and coffee in the sitting room,” he said, pointing sternly. I got hastily to my feet and trotted after the ladies.
It was almost as bad as the time we were in the USA, at a men’s only country club, and I wandered into the dining room to the buffet. A man tapped my shoulder. “Miss, women are not allowed in here.”
I was outraged. “So how do I get something to eat? The buffet is in here!”
“Your husband will bring you your meal,” he said, and steered me out of the room – me clutching my plate and letting him know, in no uncertain terms, what I thought of his stupid club. Stephane, being a man, thought the whole thing was hilarious.
When we arrived in England, the first stop was at Tidworth, home of the British Army Polo association, where we were invited to lunch. I was seated by a tall blond man, who, to my surprise, was not English but American. We started chatting, I learned his name was Stuart, and I asked him what he did besides play polo.
“I’m a drummer,” he said.
“A musician! That’s terrific.” I nodded sagely. “It’s so hard to get a break in that business – I have friend who has been trying for years to make a living with his music,” I continued. “I wish you the best of luck.”
“Thank you,” he said gravely.
After lunch, we watched a polo game, then said our goodbyes. In the bus, heading back to London, everyone wanted to know what Stuart had said to me.
“Why? Who is he?” I asked.
“Stuart Copeland? You don’t know who Stuart Copeland is?”
Actually, I did know. But I hadn’t recognized him. As usual.
A few months later we met in Palm Beach. He came up to greet Stephane and me – and I recognized him this time. I grinned up at him and said, “I’m glad to see you’re doing so well with your music.”
He punched me lightly on the arm and said with a laugh, “I have to admit, it was the first time someone was worried about me getting a break in the music business.”