Last week, an event of the outdoor variety is handled by myself and many others to raise funds and awareness for a certain organization. I leave the name to your imagination keeping the organization immune from the lunacy. Four hundred fifty people gather in a park to dance, eat, bounce house and exchange information and laughs.
All is well in the planning process; securing food trucks (yum) a taco guy (double yum) the Phoenix Coyotes slap shot bouncie and Big Red of Arizona Cardinals fame. I’m pretty puffed up the party will be a good one. After all, am I not know for fab soirees? And then, long about Thursday, Administrative Assistance informs that there’s a dress code. First she offers an organization t-shirt at which I shudder despite its v-neck. It is a t-shirt, and am I not a grown woman? The alternative is a polo. Business advisors since the dawn of womankind stress never cry at work. I take said polo to try on in the privacy of my own home should a single glistening tear slide down my blush contoured cheek.
On said day, I don the best outfit I can muster which includes the polo, thick in nature, straight in cut and insignia laden. Nary a pearl in sight, I take a deep swallow of air and make my way to the party. I remind myself, it is an outdoor picnic after all. My mind answers, “A casual affair calls for a casual frock does it not?” Perhaps something a bit floaty, a strappy sandal and one thin pearl strand; the collar which attaches my head to my body? No, instead, to 450 attendees, I appear to be a middle school gym teacher. I ask for strength.
The Goddess appears at said soiree as she knows quite a few guests. I invite her before I know of the dress code. I sense her puzzlement as I greet her. She thinks her eye movements are hidden. They are not. I note the up and down quizzical look which rests at my feet. Adorned in plain white Keds, it is the closest to fashion the outfit allows. Praise Baby Jesus they are not multi-colored and of the running variety. From that there would be no recovery.
“Please don’t tell them how you found me,” I say, acknowledging the elephant between us.
“I was going to ask. I know how you feel about shorts. And, no offense, but I don’t really like polos.” says Goddess. I tell her the alternative was a tee and she nods in understanding. “Well, then, you probably did the best you could.”
“Just, please, don’t tell anyone you saw me like this.” She threatens to snap a photo and I turn my back and walk away making identification impossible.
She also notes the lack of pearls. I tried, I really did. Four strands seems too many. One tiny strand, even with a popped collar, just doesn’t work. I settle on unadorned neck, popped color and the best curls I can swirl which promptly die in the heat, my nervous sweat at the threat of being seen in such a state and the steam of the taco stand.
I survive the evening and as far as I know, my contemporaries are unaware. However, two days later, pearls are dealt yet another blow. My world becomes so topsy-turvy, there are moments, even now, I must steady myself for balance.
I meet with a Fixer–think Olivia Pope without the dead bodies. I know right? They do exist. I am considering doing some work for her. The fact that it’s all very hush hush makes it even more squee worthy. Part of her business is image and she runs down mine. She tells me overall I’m okay but I need to brighten up, put color on my lips and lighten my hair. And then she delivers the death nell.
“Pearls do not work in business. You must update your jewelry. They signal high maintenance.”
My first thought, “And?”
As I have manners, my Starbucks dark roast, two Splendas and some milk, does not spurt across the table and into her face. I do, however, feel a small quake deep within my body. My heart pounds faster and my palms sweat. I attempt to tame a mounting hot flash, knowing full well the damage to the dress, apparently the only thing she does like. Pfft.
She says since most dealings are with men, I need be more cognizant of their impressions. Silly me, I thought all I had to do was laugh at their sophomoric jokes. She says they find pearls off-putting; making a woman appear unreachable and so, all things even, they will choose another partner. I hear my jaw before I can catch it and it does make a crashing sound when it hits the floor.
I do color my hair–two shades lighter and I’ll be damned she’s right. It is a little warmer and perhaps my face appears more approachable, who the hell knows? The next day, I go for pearls trimmed in gold; statement pearls that are more gold than strand-like, and watch for reaction. I run into only women so the experiment is a bust. Chicks, evidently, dig pearls so they aren’t really a problem in social situations. The next day I choose a long gold rope falling midchest featuring a large golden knot with fringe and add a slip of a necklace the same length giving me plenty to grasp.
After work, I travel to a dear friend from the woods the day The Norwegian died, Eastern Doll, who came to us by way of all things East–the sea, Boston, New York and such. I promise Eastern Doll I will come decorate her living room, which is sure to be a romp of the finest kind. So, over wine and stuffed clams, we rearrange, place pieces and hang family memories. The Goddess is there as is River Rafter and Sweetest G. I tell my girls of the pearl conversation and alas, the incident with the shorts and polo. When River Rafter’s husband arrives to fetch her, we ask him about the pearls.
Gasps are audible when he voices agreement with The Fixer. He adds they feel outdated and I am the only one he knows who wears them. I believe my shaking is imperceptible to the crowd but we all cover our mouths in unison.
So, when you see me on the street and find me barely recognizable without my beloved cream colored orbs, please don’t tell anyone how you found me.