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Stop the presses! (Does anyone actually USE a printing press anymore? No matter…the point remains the same.) I suspect there’s a second moon somewhere in the sky tonight. Gill just informed me that she is taking some of her frocks to the dry cleaner’s establishment.

In a normal family, a trip to the dry cleaner’s wouldn’t merit an observation, let alone an entire conversation. It would rank right up there with tweezing one’s brows. Truly mundane. But with Gill, it’s a whole different ball of wax.

And I responded accordingly. “You haven’t personally taken anything to the dry cleaner’s since ’09. Normally I sneak things out of your suitcase when you’re not looking, rush them to the cleaner and, on bended knee, beg for the Four Penguin deluxe service so I can spirit the items back into your bag before you miss them.”

“So that’s what that funny smell was…dead penguins?”

“Ha, ha…very funny. You just can’t continue to wear things that could walk to a party by themselves. And now that you’re A Professional, you have to look the part. Food stains on your front hardly scream ‘I’m worthy of a raise’.”

“Au contraire, Ma. I think you’ll find said stains DO in fact scream ‘I need a raise so I can afford dry cleaning.”

“Be that as it may, I’m impressed that you’re finally taking proper care of your nice things.”

“Don’t get too excited, Ma. It’s only a couple of dresses. The one in particular is one that I’ve lent to three other girls for special occasions.”

“Please tell me you cleaned the dress (or made them clean it) after each use,” I ventured, afraid to hear the answer.

“Ma, all my friends are poor too! If it isn’t stained in an obvious way, it doesn’t get cleaned. So it’s been a while. I did notice, last time I put it on, that it did smell…odd.”

“I should think so! It had the stink of four people on it! My God, didn’t I teach you better than that? And just out of curiosity, what happens if you all get invited to the same party? Do you take turns wearing it for an hour, then switch it off in the restroom? That dress must be very tired after the evening.”

“Of course not. But you’re a fine one to talk about overpowering scents! Every time you put on one of your good dresses, you drench yourself in your Giorgio perfume and the clothes smell like it for weeks after.”

“They do not. I’m very discreet with Giorgio — uh, the perfume, not the man. Besides, I only use the one brand, so it saves me reapplying the next time. I’m so old my sweat glands have atrophied so my clothes don’t really get dirty after one use.”

“You? Discreet with your perfume? Why do you think L’il Sis and I ask you not to wear it when we’re in the car with you or not to spray it in your bathroom until we find our gas masks?”

“You lie like a cheap rug…You just got yourself demoted to the One Penguin service!”