Dec 30, 2012

Compliments of the Season. Or was it Complements?

If I had to find metaphorical book ends for 2012, and you know darlings that I do, I think I would have to go with compliments. With complements running a close second. Or the other way ‘round, never perfectly sure.

Damn those homonyms. Wordy, windy girl like myself honestly ought to have had this straightened up in Junior High. Alas. Let us refer to the often reliable for guidance:

com·pli·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration: A sincere compliment boosts one's morale.
2.     a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard: The mayor paid him the compliment of escorting him.
3.     compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards: He sends you his compliments.

com·ple·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2.     the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3.     either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart. .

There. Better. Compliments it is then. I have a few from 2012 I want to share with you.

I am a vain thing. Vanity has a close cousin by the name of Insecurity. You may have met them. They are near neighbors beneath my wig cap, a mere synapse apart on some semi cerebral cul-de-sac. They are separated only by a narrow picket fence, perfect for a little chit-chat, a little gossip, and O, how Insecurity just lights up when Vanity shares a juicy fresh neurotransmitter of news with her. Butterflies waft and play on gentle endorphin updrafts. All the world seems lovely. Those moments stay long with me.


First notable compliment of the year came in January, one happy Saturday night as I took a solo jaunt out to LeBuzz. This spacious nightclub is the last openly gay fortress still standing in the outer boroughs of Metro Atlanta. Once you get OTP (Outside The Perimeter) here, culture and sensibilities turn from Blue to Red right smartly. Happily, LeBuzz remains solvent, and the rainbow pennant continues to flutter from the battlements.

I am not much of a night-clubber you might know, in part because it all starts so damn late and I stop pretty early. Beyond that, the noise and close proximity to youngsters and their curious Red Bull infused cocktails, well, not my tribe you know? Moreover, the featured entertainment was a Drag Review. Not a perfect night out for Petra. For the most part the lip syncing lounge lizards of the RuPaul generation are just not my cup of tea. Caricatures of femininity, exaggerations of form, and to me dismissive of woman in general. There is a cattiness in the art that I cannot love.

Nonetheless, one has to get out of the house time to time, and who knows where you can pick up a makeup tip, right? I took a perch on a tall stool with a good view of the room which left the room with a good view of me. Very bodycon skirt from BCBG, very clingy glittery knit top, pale lilac sheers and tall purple pumps.

Mostly a youngish Lesbian crowd, Asian, African and European faces, a smattering of gay chaps and a handful of clearly settled, hetero, middle-aged couples taking tables up front for the performances, really about as diverse a crowd as you could hope to see.

Not much in the way of the gender curious though. Beyond the performers, I was the only special girl in the room. Waiting for the review to begin I had a little chit chat with next stool neighbors on my right, she and he, they friends, both only recently either fully aware and out, and both a little giddy in their discoveries. While we spoke of nothing of real consequence, my eye was repeatedly drawn back over my other shoulder to the maddeningly beautiful tall boots on the woman perched to my left.

A couple of drinks and so-so drag performers later, I introduced myself to Boot Girl, simply had to tell her I loved her taste. Early 40’s I thought, there with her younger girlfriend, gorgeous dark complexion and steady eyes, she barely flickered while I said hello and told her of my love for her boots.

“I wondered if I was going to just sit here all night with that ass so close to me and you not saying a damn word …”

I was at a little of a loss for words just then. I was working on something along the lines of “come again dear, not quite sure I heard you correctly just there …”

“I have been sitting here wanting you for about an hour now. Damn do you look good.”

Oh. Well, that’s better, a little unsettling still. I stammeringly expressed my blushing gratitude, surprise at the flattery and the news that I was in a committed married relationship with very exclusive privileges as far as asses and other bits go. I must have sounded a bit like Hugh Grant. She slowed down a little and shared a few slightly more genteel words of admiration, at which point I slowly realized that her girlfriend was staring daggers at me.

Oh, my dear word, I had elicited a reaction of jealousy.

I tried to steer the conversation quickly back to boots. It worked for a while, long enough an interval that I could exit the conversation on a civil note and not get stuck in the middle of a domestic quarrel and have my much sought after ass roundly beaten.

It was near time for me to go in any event. I finished my drink, slid my jacket on, hoisted bag on shoulder and wished her goodnight while the girlfriend stared off into space. Here, verbatim, is what my new admirer said:

“You are no sissy, no punk, no bitch. You are all woman.”

That, darlings, made me feel like a million dollars. 


Flash forward to this weekend, the other end of the years bookend. A little post-Christmas shopping snoop was called for Friday. I dressed, worked hard on the makeup, and felt very beautiful. I went to a very upmarket and busy mall. 

Nice girls in Nordstrom helped out, but I did not see anything pretty and perfect enough. Long walk to the Wolford boutique (Sale Time!!!) where the most gorgeous, petite woman and I chatted. I was tempted by a few of the tops and skirts, but I think having indulged in one Wolford dress this year (beautiful but honestly, too too pricey for the amount of wear I give them), and I ended up picking up a pair of the dot tights.

I walked back out into the mall, stepped on the up escalator before storming Barneys. I heard a voice.

                   “Miss …

It was a man’s voice behind me, and I did not connect it with me. I must have appeared aloof or rude for a moment.

                   "Miss, excuse me Miss..."

O, Miss… hallo, that would be me tonight. I have been Ma’am’d before, not Missed so that threw me off too. The voice was soft, a little high of register, long vowels, the International Gay Fashionista Retail Worker voice.

                   "Miss ... I just wanted to say that your look is just so perfect, sooooo put together."

The look was good. My latest fashion transfusion from Ann Taylor, the Zebra skirt suit is a real impact outfit, pictured at right later that evening, oddly enough in an Ann Taylor fitting room.

Getting a complement from a very stylish young (much younger) man is a great feeling. Getting a complement from a very stylish young Gay man is even bigger stuff. No ulterior motives and better developed aesthetic senses, right?

I was genuinely touched. I did look good, the outfit was super smart. I said thanks and told him that women always harbor a doubt, until some kind person helps pull us up just that little bit. It was a sweet moment. He helped my last little doubts about my suitability for the world vanish.

We chatted for a moment at the top of the escalator. He had figured out by now that this Miss was somewhat amiss. He couldn’t have, wouldn't have known before, seeing me mostly from behind, and a little in profile. He smiled, happy it seems to me to have been beguiled. We stood a moment longer, the straight man in a skirt, the gay man in flannel trousers, smiled and parted.

Again, I felt like a million dollars.


I hope the woman I met that same morning on the way to the office at Starbucks felt the same way. We approached the door at the same time, I held the door open, the usual gestures, the after you and etc. for the gorgeous tall woman. A complete stunner. 5’10 or 11” and 4 inches of heel. Perfectly sleek jeans, suede tasseled jacket, tight cornrows framing a regal face.

She said go ahead to me as she pondered her choices. I put my simple order in and the barista then asked her how she was today. She said she was good, and placed her order.

I had my coffee in hand by then, turned to her and said,

“You are better than good. You are great. You really look wonderful.”

She was a little off balance, and I was on my way to the door, about to vanish. I hope when she got her Frappuccino and her balance back, that she felt like a million dollars.

It is a good feeling. One I wish you an abundance of in the New Year.


Lynn Jones said...

If money makes the world go around, do compliments make it stop for a time? :-)

The kindness of strangers is, dare I say, something to be cherished. After all, do they have any vested interest in our well being?

By strange coincidence, my eldest and I were at a Chemists just before Xmas (as you do :-) ) and we were served by a very festive/glamorous lady with a great smile. We chatted about eldest's eyedrops and as we headed off, I thought it would be nice to say how 'fabulous and festive' she was. Luckily, she took the compliment as it was intended and the smile went full beam.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Amen to the kindness of strangers Lynn.

Always lovely to see you here. Thanks and a Happy New Year to you and yours.


scalesman said...

It is always nice to see you back in the blogosphere. Your insights and your approach to who we are and what we do are refreshing.
It has to be a wonderful feeling to be out and about and appreciated for who we are and how we present.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Pat,

Thanks for your visit and your always kind and much appreciated words.

Yes, it is wonderful to get out and about and too feel appreciated.

If this is not a luxury you enjoy, I so hope that you appreciate fully who you are and how your present, to whatever extent you can.

I also hope that you are able to share that joy with someone close in your life.

Happy New Year!

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