April 8, 2008

On Plumage (part 2)

…So I went to the mall and I started wandering into clothing stores and looking at what the mannequins were wearing. Most of the mannequins didn’t have HEADS and yet they still had a better understanding of how to accessorize than I did.

As I wandered in and out of stores, I tried to imagine what kind of HEAD would go on top of various mannequins. I saw elegant ones best topped off with my mom’s head, cheerful, bouncy colored ones that needed the head of my teenaged babysitter, and a more than a few butt-crack showing, cleavage happy objects that were clearly asking to be topped with the over-painted noggins of whores. Nothing I could see myself wearing.

UNTIL! I wandered into Ann Taylor Loft. Right in the front was a mannequin in …GASP!!! A v neck black knit top and a black and white print skirt. HURRAY! I WAS SAVED!

I was assiduously gathering newer, more expensive versions of my tragic wardrobe when I got “OH HONYE NO”ed by George. George was the manager. George had a certified fashionable hair-do that looked like it required PRODUCTS and the assiduous application of hot air to make it fluff and twine correctly, and then post-process, a HUGE portion of SHEER ANIMAL WILL to make it maintain through a long day. George had that sheer animal will by the BUCKET. (His carefully constructed hair in its perfect, artistic tousles would one day appear on top of Stan Webelow’s head in THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, but that day, I simply bowed to his hair’s superior understanding of fabric.)

George took my black V necks away and insisted that with my hair and eyes and skin, I was a SPRING. So. George would know better than I, and out of sheer touring-horror I bought a LOT of outfits that George assured me would help me look my best. Lots of pink, God help me. Lots of true green and turquoise. No black. Brown in moderation. I traded my birth control glasses in for contacts.

I looked like this:


And you know what? It was good. It was very good! Because I was terrorized and I KNEW in my DEEPEST HEART that I was ABSOLUTELY not the sort of person who could manage to pull off a book tour. After all, I play WORLD OF WARCRAFT. I knew who IRON MAN was before they decided to make a movie about him. I trip over dust motes, vomit when I get nervous, and have a braying cackle of a laugh that gets away from me sometimes and shatters glass. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PEOPLE, I HAVE, WITH GENUINE LONGING, CRUSHED ON SPOCK! I am so CLEARLY a total, spasmodic GEEK.

But in the George clothes, I also wasn’t…ME. I looked in the mirror and it wasn’t me AT ALL. With my background in theatre, this was a HUGE advantage. I went out on the road and acted as if I was someone more confident than I actually am, and the clothes made it seem like it was true, even to me. I acted as if I BELONGED on a book tour, and people seemed to magically accept that it was so.

At home, I kept everything rigidly separated. MY closet in the master bedroom was full of shabby, floppy, drab objects I called “My REAL clothes.” The GEORGE clothes moved into the pristine guest bedroom closet, and I called them my, “Dress up and pretend to be an Author clothes.” And if it gave me a teeny portion of Multiple Personality Disorder, so be it. It’s not like another dot of mental illness was going to get LONELY, hanging out in my brain. It had PLENTY of other mental illnesses to keep it company…

BAH! I am out of time again. I will finish the Plumage Meditation tomorrow – OH, and for those of you who asked to see Sam – now ELEVEN! – here he is at Maisy;s birthday dinner at a local Japanese steakhouse. Maisy is cowering in her cousin Daniel’s lap:


Posted by joshilyn at April 8, 2008 1:35 PM

I think I'm a little bit in love with George. Especially his hair. Do you think he still works at Ann Taylor and do you think he would take me under his oh-so-fashionable wing?

Posted by: Leandra at April 8, 2008 2:33 PM

I am cowering, and I'm a-way over here in Texas. ON the other hand, I'm bettin' the shrimp was GREAT.

Posted by: Roxanne at April 8, 2008 3:06 PM

LOVE the photos and the comments... I'm working on a memoir using clothing as the narrative frame for my life, so I laughed out loud and cried inside and felt a comradarie with you as you described your preparations to go "on tour." You love GREAT! But more importantly, you ARE great. TGWSS was your best ever! Bravo!

Posted by: Susan Cushman at April 8, 2008 5:53 PM

Thank GAWD for Georges.
They should be cloned and sent to every single woman in America on her "decades" birthday.
Because somehow that always seems to be the time we need a good and solid kick in our fashinon hind quarters.

Posted by: Lisa at April 8, 2008 8:06 PM

Even if the clothes aren't you, the colors look very pretty on you. George definitely knew what he was talking about! (I too am a Spring. A woman "did" my colors when I was a kid at a party my mom was having, and I've never forgotten.)

Posted by: Alison at April 8, 2008 8:49 PM

DA-YUM. I wish someone would "Oh honey no" me. I need a serious clothes intervention...

Your new stuff is HOT.

Posted by: Sara at April 8, 2008 9:15 PM

Stanislavski and "act as if" have saved my life on occasion, so congratulations to you!

Love teppanyaki food, absolutely LOVE it! I hope yours was great!

Posted by: Fran at April 8, 2008 10:26 PM

Damn, I'd be cowering too. That's a BIG fire!!! (A Japanese steak house sounds fun though. I haven't been to one of those in ages.)

Did I ever tell you that your pink wedge shoes inspired the appearance of a shoe in one of my quilts? I modified them slightly, but if I showed you the quilt, I bet you would totally spot the almost-twin of your lovely pink wedge sandals. :-)

Posted by: DebR at April 8, 2008 10:38 PM

I LOVE the thrill on Sam's face. And don't blame Miss Maisey one bit for saving her own eyebrows. Yowsa.

As for the clothes, growing up I never owned anything black because my mother didn't look good in black. WTH? Black is good for me, a "winter." And I also like that it feels like I'm dressing like a real grown-up when I wear it. Still, I wore a school uniform until I graduated high school, so I never learned to really dress myself. And my hair is ... another mystery.

Posted by: Lulu at April 8, 2008 11:16 PM

LOL I'm with Lulu, Fran, AND Sara. I'm a disaster.

But you do look lovely in those colors, and that family pic on the side is SO sweet. You're all so cute. :)

Posted by: Jess at April 9, 2008 6:50 AM

I especially love how Schubert is gazing at you with his one good eye.

Posted by: Roxanne at April 9, 2008 8:58 AM

The best part about those photos? You can see the mental illness numbers in her eyes! You *KNOW* this is a woman who you want in your WOW guild and/or mixing your drinks ;-)

I understand the separate wardrobe = different persona very well. With me, it's also makeup. Even though I still could go without makeup and look good, I *cannot* go to work without makeup. It's part of my grown-up working persona.

But yes! I want a George intervention! Am I the only person out there who isn't a total mess but still hopes to get onto What Not To Wear? I *so* want Clinton and Stacy to go shopping with me!

Posted by: Beth at April 9, 2008 10:44 AM

tempers fidget...how time does fly (although I feel badly even posting such axiomatic drivel on a writer's blog)--I am getting ready for The Boy's eleventh birthday party now!
Sigh. Wasn't it just yesterday the DH was driving me to the hospital with my contractions 2 minutes apart, ready to shoot out an infant from my Fancy Place? How on earth did it happen that the tininess whose diapers I changed and whose cord stub I lovingly tended NOW WEARS THE SAME SHOE SIZE AS I DO???
There must be an explanation that does not involve the time-space continuum and my increasing elderliness.

Posted by: Elena at April 12, 2008 11:19 AM