Fancy Nancy Goes to Paris  

Terry Matthews Lombardo in flight attendant uniform

TML the stewardess, 1978. Yep, even back then those eyes were already in a passenger-induced coma.

Some stories just have to be told.  This is one of them.

Not so many years ago… okay, that’s kind of a lie.  It was many years ago, ahem, when I was a flight attendant.  So many years in fact that the correct terminology back then was stewardess, and I still have an engraved charm on a bracelet to remind me of that.  It was given to me by some stewardess friends to mark the occasion of my first flight as a stew and it says, appropriately, “I’m a Stew!”, and it’s dated Aruba-June 16, 1977 since that was my inaugural flight.   And, while the job is basically still the same, I’m guessing that flight attendant is a little more politically correct/all inclusive these days.  Regardless of the title, I was one, and as a result have some great stories from those days.  This is that, and more.

This is a story about two stewardesses, joined together when they met and began working high in the sky, usually about 35,000 feet or more.  Our friendship began on a short hop to the Caribbean and continued through long flights including the mother of all long hauls – at least from our starting point in Orlando – to China.  Did you know it’s half way around the world from here?  And while I do have some wonderful tales of that ground breaking 1978 trip to the PRC as it was formerly referred to, this story is about our trip to Paris, and ooo-la-la we really had fun on that one!

the Eiffel Tower
Le Tour Eiffel
The Ritz Paris Grand Entrance
Le Grand Entrance de RITZ PARIS
Princess Diana at the Ritz Paris
In case you can’t tell, that’s Princess Diana in the Ritz Paris revolving door. NOT to be confused with Fancy Nancy.

And when I say we had fun I’m not talking about any X-rated Parisian hanky-panky from these happily married gals. Not a chance. It was pure silly shenanigans for these two Madames, loose in the City of Light and Love.

This story involves the two of us, myself and Fancy Nancy, ‘a little too much alcohol,’ and a really famous revolving door in a super fancy Parisian hotel. To clarify, said door is now famous not because of what happened to us there, but because it’s the same one Princess Diana can be seen exiting from on her very last night on earth. You know the one. It’s at the front of the Ritz, or should I say THE RITZ PARIS. Yeah, that one.

And, if you know anything at all about LE RITZ PARIS you know it’s iconic. I mean anyone who is ANYONE goes to the Ritz while in Paris.  Of course our stewardess flight pay certainly didn’t cover us staying at the Ritz, but we were quite hopeful that it would at least cover a drink or two at the world famous lobby bar. Surely you’ve heard of Bar Hemingway, oui? And being that we were on our first trip there and not at all sure we could afford even one drinkee-poo at that bar, we might possibly have first stopped at a few other bistros to ‘warm up’ to the idea of making an entrance at the Ritz. But, the entrance we had in mind like, um, acting as if we were staying there and could actually afford to charge a drink to room #408, s’il vous plait, was unfortunately NOT the entrance that actually took place.

So, surely you know where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, making an entrance took on a whole new meaning for these two stewed-stews that day! And I’m happy to say that at least one of us – that would be me – made it through the famous revolving door completely in tact. No bruises, scars or humiliation on my part, at least not any that I caused while trying to ‘look cool’ during my entrance. No, it was Fancy Nancy who ended up doing a complete belly flop on the ground after a couple rounds with that door that she just couldn’t stop from revolving.  Round and round she went while I stood just outside – wait, were we coming or going? Who knows? And you can imagine it took only several complete swirl arounds of me seeing her shocked face through that glass door, now clearly red and bursting with tears of laughter, before I  completely lost my Parisian composure and just let out a huge, um, how do the French say, ‘vi grogner?’ Yep, I laugh-snorted. Really loud. Hopefully, in French?!

Mon Dieu! Oh, garçon!!!

And speaking of garçon, it took only seconds for the attending bellmen – yes, plural as there were many of them; it’s THE RITZ, for God’s sake! – to come to our rescue, and needless to say it was more or less a “Let’s help you out the door tout suite” situation rather than a “Welcome to the Ritz Paris, ladies, and hey, we’re super glad you two drunk American gals are here causing ‘le situation’ in our 5 star entrance!”

Oh, and did I mention that we were both wearing what was surely very stylish back then but might possibly, perhaps have been construed as well, you be the judge when you picture me in a short fake-fur jacket (no judgement, please) with knee high boots and FN in her lace disco bellbottoms and shiny (RE fake) leather coat.  (Not entirely sure that I’m glad we have no actual photos of us in those get-ups, but wow, it sure would add to the storyline here, wouldn’t it?)

Anyway, I think you get the gist of the Fancy Nancy goes to Paris story. And while there surely were a few more enhanced details as we told and re-told this ridiculously embarrassing story to anyone who would listen to us babble about it over the years, we fully realized that having been the ‘stars’ in this melodrama it was much more hilarious for the two of us than for anyone hearing us cackle about it. We were convinced that Lucy and Ethel would have played our roles in the off-off-off Broadway version since we, ourselves, would still be quite busy ‘flying the friendly skies.’

Sadly, I’m telling it now once again for you, Fancy Nancy because you’ve just made your final flight… up there well above that 35K mark, and surely I can’t tell this story anymore without you on the ground by my side because seriously, who else would laugh with me over this foolishness?

Cancer may have slowly and painfully taken you off this earth but the laughs and love we shared for almost 40 years will never be forgotten.  Not by this stew!

Fancy Nancy and TML in a kitchen
Fancy Nancy and TML up to no good again – in the kitchen on the ground or in the air!

Rest in Peace my wonderful fun loving, globe trotting pal.

With you and I, kid, there will always be Paris.


May, 1943- August 7, 2017

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Just your average middle age gal trying to deal with career/life/family changes and issues while studying people and places, one lobby bar at a time.

10 thoughts on “Fancy Nancy Goes to Paris  

  1. Without a doubt!! One of your best! You took me from laughing so hard my cheekbones hurt, to tears of true friendship! You are an amazing story teller. Kudos to you Terry!!


    1. Thanks – you and I know a thing or two about friendship and travel, right? And both lead to great stories, which is what I hope to keep writing about. As always, thanks for reading them.


  2. Enjoyed the story very much. Cancer may take our friends or loved ones but it can never take the memories shared with each other.


  3. Hi,I was Susan husbin,and Nance Ask my sister for help,My sister was Head supervisor,You know the rest,Warmest Regards Michael Walsh.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike, and I’m sure this story put a smile on your face, too. Great memories of those gals!


  4. This story had to be told one more time at least. I loved reading it and like Gayanne, I laughed at your shenanigans and then had tear filled eyes at the ending. I’m sorry for your loss of Fancy Nancy, but I know you will cherish every memory you shared together. Miss our “wine afternoons” but know you are always in my thoughts. XOXO!


    1. Thanks so much, Carol, for reading and commenting. It means a lot to a writer and especially when the story is so personal like this one. Miss you, too! XOXO


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