Remembering Miss O'Hara's penchant for riding crops, I decided to play it safe.
I wore red, of course.
Strawberry lip gloss, sassy sanguine pumps and a pencil skirt (always proper for a reporter). Gucci bag, camera phone equipped with apparition radar and a stash of freshly baked persimmon pudding and pork barbecue in my briefcase.
Seated rather conspicuously in the far corner of the O'Henry Hotel lobby, I find Miss Scarlett twirling her hair and thumbing through the latest copy of GQ. Wearing annoyance at my lateness -my heel pump caught in the escalator and I had to ask a kind man at the airport to assist me - when I told him I was going to interview a 19th century legend he retrieved the battered shoe, threw it to me from a safe distance and fled - but I digress - She was simply hard to miss.
Not prepared for quite so much fluff and puff, I was caught off guard by the sheer volume of taffeta and crinoline that stuffed itself into the chic surroundings of the upscale hotel she wafted through.
Not even when I heard a couple who passed by me in the elevator remark "Is there a revival of Gone With the Wind' playing somewhere this weekend? The cast must be staying here....." and then something about a "huge black buggy in back with a bewildered black man atop" - did I realize just how odd this night would be.
I should have known. Scarlett would never park in front of the hotel. Just not proper. Besides, where would her driver wait?
I was not prepared, either, to hear the late great Scarlett O'Hara muttering to herself.
"Who is this divine creature?" she said, whipping out her rather large fan to cool the natural blush that graced her southern cheeks.
"Why, that's George Clooney, Scarlett," I said.
Looking startled, she slowly lifted those magnificent lashes my way, stared at the red pumps, followed the line of my skirt to the waist with a where's-the-rest-of-it-look and said with a scowl, "That's not Irish, is it?"
I could see this was going to be an interesting night.
Introductions were made as we sauntered towards the dimly lit restaurant in back. Since a booth was out of the question, we found an open-air patio table with a parasol-like umbrella and sat down. She felt right at home.
"I've been reading through your interview questions, Miss Mimi, and I must say that I feel a bit of pressure."
"No need, Scarlett. I thought we'd start on a personal note instead."
Leaning in closer, I told her the real reason I jumped at this interview. "To tell you the truth, I'm having a little trouble with my love life. I could use your help."
"I know, dear. I can tell by your blog that..... uh.... what's a blog anyway?"
"It's a diary, Scarlett. You know, a place where people write private stuff for others to read and comment on."
"That's a diary all right!" smirked the great Miss S, "That catty sister of mine couldn't keep her hands off my journal. All of Georgia knew which Tartleton I'd been kissin' on most any day of the week. But I showed her...."
"Yes, Scarlett, I know, but we'll get to that later.....Now, about these bachelors.....I'd like to ask you, Miss O'Hara" - I took a deep breath -
what do men really want?"
"Fiddle-dee-dee, that's easy."
I knew I'd come to the right place.
With bated breath, I waited.
"She obviously hasn't heard about savvy Lizza from the Philippines. Such a smart cookie and swarming with admirers!" I thought. Had I heard her right?
"Take Bachelor #76" she continued, "a perfect example of an age-old mystery. He knows what a conjunction is, but really wants to know if you know what a conjunction is. You've already blown that one, Mimi. If you'd just pretended you didn't know that conjunction function is a Sesame Street song, you might have snared this Einstein. Smart girls never win.
"But I thought he was making an allegorical reference alluding synonymously to making a connection by linking."
"What do alligators have to do with this?! Jumpin' Jehosaphats! He's trying to sell you swampland, silly girl, and your brains have no place in his quicksand. Get it, girlfriend?"
"How old are you, Mimi? Judging from that boring boy-like straight shimmy you're wearing - and the fact that you're showing no bosoms at a perfectly acceptable hour of the day to be showin' 'em - I have to wonder just how experienced you really are. Your age, please?"
"You're a smart girl, Scarlett. Cipher it out. I have grown children with chillens of their own, 12 years of regular schoolin', five years (and then some) of higher educatin' and am a card-carrying member of the retired fiction writers of Savannah.
"I rest my case," said the great faux lady with a steely smile, "see where all that book larnin' got you? And now you're too damn old to marry."
Tossing her hair - still jet black and shiny after 145 years of courting - she gave me a most pitiful glance.
Senility does not become me.
Feeling a bit faint in my old age, I decided to stop the interview and regroup. The other questions would have to wait.
I was not prepared for this level of intellectual stimulation.
I had had enough.
And to make matters worse, Scarlett kept fidgeting with something in the folds of her skirt.
I was annoyed.
How could she be so flippant when my future love life hung in the balance?
I came all this way from downtown manless America to learn that civilization hasn't progressed one iota since 1861 where men and women are concerned??
I couldn't bear to hear anymore about romance - or my apparent lack thereof.
Let's go for the familial questioning instead.
We made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon to finish the interview. I needed to call Dr. Phil first.
I decided to ask her one more question - the one my readers have been dying to know - before we resumed with the romance tomorrow.
"Uh....Scarlett. Just one more question this evening......Scarlett?! Are you listening?"
Something had caught her attention under the table. "God's nightgown!" she exclaimed.
"Excuse me?"......I've lost her, I thought, so easily entertained, that Scarlett, what IS she looking at?
Oh......must be the broken heel of my pump....."Sorry about that, Miss O'Hara. I'm so em...em.....embarra...." (she's paying no attention to me).."Scarlett!"
"Do you mind Miss Moses?"
I just wanted to slap her.
It is not the rustle rustle noise of her crinoline I've been hearing all evening. Noooo... It's the back and forth swish of the pages of a certain magazine now lodged permanently between the wooden slats of her cumbersome skirt - which has become the perfect hiding place for this month's stolen issue of Gentleman Quarterly - and George's handsome mug.
In the span of barely one hour she had discovered my scandalous secret, planned an under table love fest and managed to run off with my beau.
He's mine, mine, all mine!
I must think of a way to distract him. The only celebrity boyfriend I have is caught in the clutches of the wiliest woman on earth. I'll just die if my Georgie becomes her Rhett.
This is no time to be pretty.
Being the pencil-skirted -albeit dateless pencil skirt- that I am, I asked, "Just one more question this evening, Miss Scarlett, and then I'll leave you alone with your gentlemen callers....as it were."
"OK, Mimi-girl, but hurry it up. There's an adorable dark-eyed man I'm interested in with the letters J, F, and K ......I'm getting tired and really must relieve my darkie. .....uh....outside....you know, he's been waiting near the kitchen forever and the horses need water. The nearest trough is all the way to Atlanta."
"Don't get your corset in a knot, Scarlett," I said. "This won't take long."
Let's move on, shall we?
"Question number two is about your kinsfolk.
My readers want to know.....
How many mules would you have traded your sister for?"
"Well......it all boils down to pedigree, Mimi.
Cross-bred mares are worthless.
Always best to stay within one's own bloodlines, you know.
Mules who marry outside the farm aren't worth a hill 'o beans. See'ns how both my clueless sisters couldn't count to ten, I'd say give me a mule who's been sired and homegrown through generations of O'Hara's and you can kiss my silly sisters goodbye......"
Gulp. Both of them??
...."If the stupid animal came from Ashley Wilkes' breeding ground they may have a snowball's chance of remaining in the family." She pauses. Nose in the air. "By the way, do you smell barbecue?"
"So, Miss Mimi-Mouse, the answer is....one. I would trade both my sisters for just one mule - with proper mule breedin' naturally."
Before I could speak she answered the only other question I didn't want to ask in true Scarlett form.
"Lands-sake, don't look so shocked. I always wanted to be an only child anyway!"