most distinguished debutante cotillion of all, and the most exclusive by far. But she wouldn't have thought of not inviting Frieda to join them at the event, no matter what anyone thought or what the current standards were. “Who cares what they think? You're our family, and the girls would be devastated if you weren't there. So would I.”
“Oh my God…I never thought…I never imagined… Harry will be furious… but I'd love to come. What'll I wear?”
Olympia laughed, relieved. Her mother-in-law sounded thrilled.
“We'll find something. You and I can go shopping in the fall. We'll buy something very grand.” Olympia suddenly realized it was a big deal to her mother-in-law, as much as it was to Ginny, and to Harry in the opposite sense. It represented everything she had been excluded from and cheated of as a young girl, and was a form of victory and validation for her. There had been no balls or parties in her youth. There had been poverty and hard work in sweatshops. Knowing that her daughter-in-law wanted her at an event like that meant the world to her, and Olympia wouldn't have deprived her of it for anything on earth. Olympia could hear in Frieda's voice how much it meant to her.
“I have to find something with long sleeves,” she said softly, and Olympia understood. She wanted to cover her tattoo, as she always did.
“We'll find the perfect dress. I promise,” Olympia said gently.
“Good. I'll work on Veronica this weekend. She shouldn't spoil it for her sister. Cesar Chavez will never know she went, and it'll be more fun for both of them if they both go. And tell my son not to be such a pain in the neck. He just doesn't want to wear a tux. And if he won't go, we'll have a good time without him. December is a long way off, they'll all calm down by then. Don't let them upset you,” Frieda said in a loving tone, which was typical of all of Olympia's dealings with her in the thirteen years of her marriage to Harry. Olympia had won her mother-in-law's love and loyalty forever when she converted to Judaism. She was a terrific girl, and Frieda said she saw nothing wrong with the girls making their debut at an exclusive WASP social event. In fact, she was thrilled to go herself. “I'll put it on my calendar that we'll shop in September, as soon as the fall dresses come in. I'm thinking maybe black velvet. How does that sound to you?”
“It sounds like you're the most wonderful woman I know,” Olympia said with tears in her eyes. “I'm lucky to know you.”
“Just forget about it. Everything will be fine. Harry will get over it. He's just being stupid and overreacting.” They all were. “He should relax his principles for one night, enjoy it and eat his dinner, and not give you such a hard time.”
Olympia felt better as soon as they hung up. But, in spite of her mother-in-law's comforting assurances, she still looked tired and stressed. It was nearly five o'clock, and she wanted to get home to Max. One of her partners walked into her office five minutes later, and saw the look on Olympia's face.
“You look like you've had a fun day,” Margaret Washington said with a tired smile. She'd had a tough day herself, working on an appeal of a class action suit they had brought against a string of factories that were dumping toxic waste, and lost. She was one of the firm's best lawyers. She went to Harvard as an undergraduate, and then on to Yale Law School. She happened to be African American and Olympia wasn't anxious to explain her problems to her, but after circling the subject cautiously for five minutes, she finally spelled it out to her. Margaret had exactly the same reaction Olympia's mother-in-law had had. “Oh for chrissake, we poison the environment, we sell cigarettes and alcohol, half the nation's youth is hooked on drugs they can buy on street corners, not to mention guns, we have one of the highest suicide rates in the world among youth under the age of twenty-five, we get into wars that