Everyone that knows me knows I'm big on gratitude. (My first tattoo, and still my favorite, is the word "grateful" scripted across my lower back.) That's why I want to share this idea about an easy way to express your gratitude for the people who serve us, all too thanklessly every day. (It's no coincidence I first heard about this "Thank you" gesture/campaign on Daryn Kagan's site. Daryn, a former TV reporter -- for CNN, I think -- started a website that focuses on good news and inspirational stories. (If you know me you also know I am a big believer in avoiding negativity in the news and choosing to focus on what's positive all around us.)
I first saw this Betty Boop cartoon on TV when I was about 8. (Back then they routinely showed the old Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons in the afternoons.) I sat transfixed. I was always drawn to Betty Boop -- her optimism, openness, her ability to talk to and commandeer inanimate objects and flowers. But the part where Cab Calloway sings "St. James Infirmary" just blew my little mind. You know how sometimes you have an experience or encounter a piece of art where you just feel like "This, THIS is for me. This speaks to me. This IS me." That's how I felt about this song. And almost 40 years later, I still do.
I never thought it would happen to me, but it has. I have caught bridal fever. I flip through bride magazines and stop at the odd page and think, "Now that's a helluva veil." I fall asleep at night endlessly re-working seating plans in my head. I troll ebay, OnceWed and Pre-OwnedWeddingDresses.com for used wedding dresses despite the fact I just may have already bought one (or three) ones. But in no way am I one of them there Bridezillas. I really just want people to have a good time and be happy. I mainly, mostly just want to dance. I want to use the word husband, I want to get an updo, and I want to enjoy having all the people we love and cherish around us. I think of the wedding as a big party, the only party I've actually ever thrown in all my life, and I just don't want to screw it up and not go broke (not necessarily in that order).
Anyway, about two years ago I was asked to write some lines for a certain TV network's website on the topic "YOU KNOW YOU'RE A BRIDEZILLA IF. . . " They didn't use all of them, so I am re-printing them here.
YOU KNOW YOU'RE A BRIDEZILLA IF. . .
You can't believe the reception hall won't allow Cirque De Soleil to attach harnesses to the ceiling.
The Vatican can't accommodate your veil.
White tigers and/or helicopters are involved.
White tigers air-lifted in by helicopters are involved.
When noticing the lengthy guest list, you ask your fiancée if he really has to invite both parents.
friends stage an intervention. And they bring a priest, holy water, and some
cousins if they could just choose one person to represent all of them; ideally
that person would be an attractive stranger.
You think Donald Trump's last wedding was "smallish."
Al Gore calls to say he's concerned your floral needs will affect the Earth's fragile eco-balance.
You named your dogs Vera Wang, Martha Stewart and Gift Registry.
Your wedding planner has a restraining order against you.
You eliminate the flower girls because they're thinner than you.
You hire Maya Angelou to punch up the vows.
You hire Spielberg to shoot the wedding video.
You need scaffolding to get into your dress.
Despite the fact the groom has broken engagement you still plan to go ahead with the wedding.
It seems unfair that as you get older, and more confident and secure about your own personal style, your options diminish with each passing empowering year. Now that I'm no longer clueless and ready to really feel my oats fashion-wise, I find I have to be more cautious than ever. There are several reasons for this, and only one of them has to do with my thighs.
I've always loved old movies, and when I was in my teens and 20's I expressed my enthusiasm for Hollywood's heyday by wearing vintage clothes wherever I went. Back in those days, I'd gingerly troll the fragile thrift store racks for anything even remotely Ginger Rogers-ish. It was easy to find fitted jackets a la Joan Crawford, printed 40's rayon frocks, and slinky nightgowns I was certain made me a ringer for Jean Harlow. And when I went to school, or to work, or to vote, no one thought twice about the girl walking around in a night gown and cowboy boots. I was "quirky," I was "cute," and to very charitable I was even "charming." As I passed a couple of older women wearing bemused smiles I assumed they were thinking, "My, how nice to see a young person embracing the past." If a convenience store clerk stared, I knew it was because the clocks and poodles pattern on my 30's blouse was so fetching.
Those days are gone.
I find that when a woman is d'un certain age (that's the classy French way of saying too old to be a "Gossip Girl" but not quite dead) she must remember that while she sees her outfit as insouciant or bohemian, to the citizenry at large it may read as "bag lady." While it's true many designers have of late been inspired by the "Grey Gardens look," note that, 1) it is all displayed on seventeen-year-old girls, and 2) the actual women who invented this look are considered to be nuttier than a squirrel's cheeks November. If I try wearing a sweatshirt wrapped around my head as a turban they won't come after me with cameras, they'll come after me with nets. And I fear if I wear one of my old dilapidating vintage frocks I'll look homeless, or at the very least hopeless.
Same thing with my Betsey Johnsons. I have amassed over the years, roughly speaking, about 10 million Betsey Johnson dresses. But now before I put one on, each time I wonder do I look fetching, or do I look all Baby Jane? Does my stand-by sexy LBD make me look look cool, hot, or like a desperate cougar? Sure, that dress looks good in Vogue, but will it be a Norma Desmond moment when I put it on?
I could be over-thinking this. I mean, Ms. Johnson is making her whole mutton-dressed-as-lamb work for her. And those actresses for whom it doesn't (cough-Sally Kirkland-cough), they may actually really BE desperate. Still, think about this: Would Scarlet O'Hara have thought twice about donning curtains if she'd been 20 years older? Because sometimes a dress-cum-curtain is a daring, avant-garde fashion statement -- and sometimes you're just a nut walking around in your drapes..
It’s finally come to this; I’ve
found an even minisculer part of my
body to obsess me. As if endlessly abusing what is delicately referred to as my
“bikini area” weren’t enough, I recently began tormenting another fragile part
of my anatomy. Poor eyelashes,
they never knew what hit ‘em.
For most of my life my eyelashes
were able to escape the bouts of critical frenzy to which I periodically
subjected my body. The only real eyelash-related decision I can ever recall
making was the “to use navy mascara or not to use navy mascara?” question. Good
ole reliable pink-and-green did the job, and its simple wand dispensed all the
magic my eyelashes needed – I thought.
Then I met my real estate agent, Sherri,
who sported the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen. It was hard to concentrate on anything
she said, such was the mesmerizing power of those fuzzy suckers. “Mama want,” I drooled; I needed some of
that mind-clouding glamour. I’d heard about lash extensions,
so right before this big date I threw myself into making myself as eye-popping,
breath-taking, and groin-tingling as possible and I dived in and pimped my peepers.
I willingly plunked down $450 to
lie on a table for 2 hours while an Albanian woman with post-nasal drip
painstakingly applied individual lashes to my taped-shut lids. We’d haggled
over how long the faux fringe should be; she suggested a “somewhat natural
look” while I was a proponent of the “Carol Channing Meets Las Vegas Showgirl look.”
(We settled on “everyday drag queen” length.)
I LOVED the results. When I looked in the mirror instead of
my usual squinty
Zellwegger eyes I saw big, Bambi , bat-worthy lashes. They gave me a fuzzy
feeling (literally) and put a spring in my step. My life would heretofore be
measured as Before Lashes (B.L.) and After Lashes (A.L.). There were only 2
fix was short. My lash high needed constant touch-ups at $100 a pop.Lashes were supposed to last a month,
but they really started looking puny and all normal by week three.
because mine were burlesque queen long, but a lash was always getting stuck in
my eye. I’d end up absent-mindedly tweaking and pulling at them, which not only
hastened their demise but made my own
eyelashes come out right with them. By the end of the month I had less lashes
than I’d started with, and I knew I had to end the vicious cycle.
By now I was used to my super-sized
baby browns, and felt Quasimodo-y with my paltry ole lashes. I tested out
several mascaras, including FiberWig and
the Lancome mascara trilogy. Eh. Then I decided to drop some science on my lids:
I lay down 150 big ones for RevitaLash,
this stuff that’s supposed to actually encourage lash growth.I’ve heard from, oh, at least 2
people that the stuff really works. Though now solidly a member of the Lash
Club for Idiots, I was still daunted by the instructions. Warning after warning
made it sound like if you get even a molecule of this stuff you’re swiping on
your eyelids into your actual eyes you would go blind, explode, or possibly catch
Despite the scary warnings, I have
started painting this stuff at my lash line each night before bed. I’ll let you
know whether I grow long, lovely lashes or go blind. Clearly, I’ve already gone
(And yes, for those of you doing
the math, yes, I’ve spent over $600 on my eyelashes. Don't worry, I'm whipping myself in my lash-induced shame spiral.)
I hate the word 'tacky.' All my life I've heard this put-down, and as far as I can make out, it basically just means "something I wouldn't do." Well, who asked you?
Yes, there are bad manners. Yes, there are rude things one can say, and yes, there are clothes inappropriate for a funeral. So call it bad manners, call it rude, call it skanky, but don't call it tacky. And remember, what's inappropriate for one person is very apropos for another. One person's garish is another person's fabulous. One person's treacly is another's poignant. That woman's outfit you find skanky might seem skanktastic to me.
Since planning my wedding, I've heard the word tacky come up a lot. Well, I'm over it, and so is this wonderful woman behind Offbeat Bride.
Bonus: A "tacky" picture of me. Corset + rodeo pants, doesn't get tackier than that. Oh, and did I mention I'm at WORK here? Take that tak-scists!
Nothing says “I live in a fantasy world of my own making”
quite so well as a wardrobe full of sarong-like dresses, suitable mostly for
leaning seductively against palm trees. The fact that I rarely sidle up to palm
trees, even platonically, hasn’t prevented me from amassing a Polynesian panoply worthy of Dorothy Lamour. My closet looks like it belongs to a Jungle Princess or a hostess in a tiki bar rather than to a woman with a 9-5 office job. (However, if I ever get a job as
either a Jungle Princess or a hostess in a tiki bar I’ll be all set.)
Why all the frond-fondling finery when the closest I ever get to a
luau is briskly walking by the Hawaiian Tropic Zone restaurant near Times Sqaure? Simple, because rockin' tropic frocks
walks that fine line between glamour and costume, allowing one to inject
much—needed exoticism into everyday humdrummery. Dressing like a showgirl,
trapeze artist, or coming to work in a peignoir is generally frowned upon, so
we dames must look elsewhere for garb befitting our imagination and our
curves.When done well, dresses
with giant blossoms and hibiscuses (hibiscusi?) bring a uniquely festive
glamour to clothes. But the prints must be done well, which is why I’m obsessed
with vintage Hawaiian and Pan-Asian clothes.
Starting in the 1930’s, Hawaiian prints and tropical styling
became a go-to get-up for vintage vixens. Dorothy Lamour made a big splash in
the 1938 movie Jungle Princess, single-handedly
adding the word “sarong” to Americans’ vocabulary. (Though it wasn’t exactly
her hand that did it.) The Forties brought Pearl Harbor and our boys stationed
in tropical locales far and wide. Eventually Hawaii became the 50th
state and vacationers’ suitcases came back overstuffed with shirts and muumuus
that seemed like such good ideas back on Waikiki.
Hawaiian prints, like Hawaii itself, are an accessible
exotic. The hula (and hula hoops, for that matter) is a perfectly innocent and
acceptable form of hip-rolling. Wiggling and grinding can be illicit, but slap
on a grass skirt and all of a sudden it’s kinda cute, and even elegant. Wearing
beautiful Polynesian and Hawaiian-ish prints is a non-threatening, festive kind
of exoticism. Plus, they’re easy and fun to wear! Form-fitting sundresses and
cheongsams are extremely figure-flattering no matter what figure you’re trying
to flatter, and muumuus are extremely bloat-friendly.
I’ve gotten into collecting dresses made by Alfred Shaheen,
especially his Surf ‘n Sand line. Yes, it's another huge money suck for me (see my post on ebaying). But they’re
just so darn Dorothy Lamourthy, twirly, and drinks with umbrellas-tastic! Perfect
for dames who want a down-to-earth exotic, fun, rockabilly look that isn’t retro-ying-too-hard.