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The Inimitable Mrs. Francis

By Belinda

I spotted her at a nearby table; my dear friend Frances. We and many of our other friends were at a gala to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the agency we work for.

When I went over to say hello, she was shimmering--her hair and face dusted with sparkles. And she was bathed in the fragrance of her Christmas perfume, Cinnabar; a floral blend of incense, spice and amber.

At her place was a white folded place card that read, "Mrs. Francis." None of us even had a place card, let alone one on which our name was so uniquely enscribed.

The evening was a very special celebration, with an appearance by His Honour, David C. Onley Lieutenant Governor, the Queen's representative in Ontario; to bring greetings and congratulations.

The Delta Meadowvale Conference Centre banquet hall was filled with an ocean of white clothed round tables as far as you could see. There must have been 300 people or more, present.

Part of the program involved the master of ceremonies and an accomplice--sorry--assistant, Aimee Sider; roaming the banquet hall with a microphone and camera (which transmitted to two large screens,) and carrying out a fun quiz as a way of giving information about Nationwares a social enterprise of which Amiee is the founder and director.

As they selected random guests to interview, most of the eyes in the room were instantly averted! Most of us were intimidated, to say the least, at the thought of being quizzed in public, with our picture broadcast on two large screens, even if the questions were multiple choice and the right answers obvious. Aimee was giving out leather bracelets sold by Nationwares as a prize for right anwers.

I don't know if it was by sheer force of will that Frances drew them to her table, but suddenly, there she was on the screens and in command of the microphone. I had good reason for giving Frances the nick name Poppy. She is vibrant, expressive, bold and colourful. And not in the least bit shy.

Frances has a favourite fantasy of having her own show: The Fran Show. The show would feature guests, but they would be interviewing her. :) And here was her fantasy coming to life!

After she and Aimee had fun with some livelier than usual questions and answers, Aimee asked if she would be doing her Christmas shopping at the Nationwares table.

"Well," said the naughty Frances, "I do have three children--with leather allergies." This got the desired laughter and required some searching for a non leather prize.

At the end of the evening I went over to congratulate my friend on her performance, which I knew she had so thoroughly enjoyed giving.

"There are," said Frances, "two kinds of people in this world: Those who want an audience--and the audience!"
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