I’ve been feeling really frumpy lately and felt like I was in my most frumpy full-body mom jeans mode at a work event. We toured a scientific research vessel and were instructed to wear sturdy shoes and clothing that could be soiled by oil and grease and whatever keeps a world-class ship going. Another one of the guests, a very nice young lady, came in these beautiful ballet flats–flats that she was told she would have to change out of if she wanted to come on board. So I lent her a pair of walking shoes I kept in my desk and even though she was a very good sport about it, she looked like a Hobbit in those sneakers. She was a model from the ankles up, Frodo from the ankles down. Unlike me, who is a full-body Frodo who looks like in a constant state of battle against Gollum for the presssshus ring.
Plus, she had one of these Longchamp bags which I didn’t even know existed until she mentioned the brand to someone else. And that’s how far removed I am from the fancy life where you casually say, “Oh this bag? It might have been from Sak’s or Nordstrom’s. I don’t remember.” Whereas in my life, you might ask me where I picked up my “Call Me I’m Single” shirt and I would say, “It might have been from the thrift store. Or a shirt I won in a rock-paper-scissors game with a homeless woman. Excuse me, she’s over there giving me the stinkeye, so I need to yell and remind her that she knew what she was getting into! ROCK ALWAYS WINS!”
I really loved the event, but it just made me feel like I was the opposite of a fancy lady, that I had abandoned all hopes of being registering anything on the hotness scale. The only hotness I can look forward to is menopause or anytime I have to cross the street and talk at the same time.
My mom was and still is the fanciest lady I know. I fondly remember her room and the drawer she had of the very high-class makeup she purchased from Duty-Free. There was no discount mascara or drugstore brand lipstick. She had golden compacts of honey-pressed powder. Thumb-sized glass bottles of french perfume lined the mirror. Before we went to mass, she would dab Chanel No. 5 behind my ear, in case the priest kissed me, she said. But priests never kissed me on the cheek. Maybe they caught the face I made as the incense passed by or when I took the communion wafers and gave the look like, “THIS IS SO DRY!”
I thumbed through her copy of Color Me Beautiful, the 80s encyclopedia on beauty, categorizing women into Seasons using questions like, “Are you an Autumn?”
I’m whatever season that Seasonal Affective Disorder was named after. I can imagine the make-up counter lady surveying the crags of my face and determining that I’m not an Autumn or a Winter, but rather that monstrous gray rain storm that comes around and showers over everyone just as the beach blanket clambake was set up. Sorry Gidget. Sorry Moondoggie.
I think I’m going to take my fancy lady lessons from Julie Klausner, one of the funniest women and from this video: grade-a fancy lady: