The Southern Comfort Conference finished up, dear friends, just last weekend, and your fickle Pen Pal was en scene, embedded, engaged, bedecked, bejeweled and altogether beguiled for two glorious days of full Petra immersion. This was my third visit, and SCC, is now pretty well established as where and how I wriggle out of the summer cocoon and spin myself up in slinky silky stuff for a new life, a new season.
Still shocking too how natural and easy the chrysalis is. Lasting too. Par example, I was in a drab social setting later that weekend, after my SCC time was over. There I was, unshaven, butch wallet, no spritz of perfume behind the knee, and I still had to absolutely bite my tongue when introducing myself to strangers. Having spent the prior couple of days with “Hi! My name is Petra …”, I was still quite in the habit. It took the full evening to comfortably find my way back home to my more commonly known given name, with some damn near misses along the way. I had to smile.
I had much to smile about.
This year, I chose to stay at the host property, the Perimeter Crowne Plaza. Mrs. Bellejambes, you see is quite concerned about Petra getting clocked making daylight dashes through our close knit neighborhood. I take her point quite well. Yes, there does lurk a silly adrenaline junky within who rather enjoys the thrill, the sound of the drum pounding away inside my amply padded chest cavity. That cheap thrill doesn’t tip the scale when measured against the value of my wife’s peace of mind though. And on the upside, a second or perhaps a third glass of wine would not be out of order if I was only a short elevator ride from my crib rather than even a shortish drive home. Virtue and necessity do accessorize perfectly from time to time.
And so I rose early Thursday morning, burned through the final thousand requirements of the work week, set auto-reply and phone messages for the long weekend, and stepped off the grid. I then took a deep breath, the first in a series as it happens.
After that moment of calm collection, I proceeded to pack like a refugee.
Ginger Grant wheeled 3 full seasons of glittering evening gowns aboard the S.S. Minnow for a 3 Hour Tour. Ginger Grant ain't got nothing (but looks) on me. I had been too damn busy to really have anything more than a sketch of a wardrobe plan, and this absence of forethought showed in the Sherpa-sized bail of gear that I schlepped across town. What really stands out though are the things forgotten. A decent facial soap for instance, or hey girl, would it kill you to bring a camera maybe?
No time for regrets on these matters though. It was time to change time, to slow time down, to anticipate the change and savor it. First things first, the room, Petra’s room. Not a place for either a chap or a chaperone. Petra’s room. Unpack first, populate the drawers, drape the closets and cover the counter tops with an orderly display of feminine occupation. The last vestiges of drab me folded away, given the dignity of a plastic bag burial and slid beneath the pillow array on the spare bed.
Time for another deep breath.
Now for the body. Not the pressed and practical prep of the man day. The patient, purposeful pamper, the care of the skin that soaks in so much more than skin deep. The first autumn shave, all the shearing and plucking and gumming the plumbing required to achieve my undoubtedly preferred surface characteristic. Buffed, moisturized, painted and powdered, the body feels new and young again.
Time then for the face. On with the wig cap and off with the glasses, the eyes another year worse for the wear, the hands and fingers months out of practice, but surely and slowly connecting with habits long gone but not forgotten. An afternoon palette for the eyes, nothing too dramatic, thin as they are, my own lashes with a few coats of lacquer will do. I am glad I cleaned my brushes before putting them to rest in the spring. A couple of false moves and uncertain strokes, nothing Q-Tips and Kleenex can’t obscure.
The foundation and powder shine up and smooth out things well enough, some cheek color and lip contour. I finish by reminding myself and a gentle reminder that I am a 50-something now, and didn’t have soft facial contours and bee sting lips for starters. I feel proud in a different way, a way unique to Petra-time.
Nails on now, and finally, the crescendo moment of the coronation, the hair. It never fails to feel awesome. I can believe myself fully now.
I know now that I am really only short minutes away from the world. Just the breath-catching moment as the dress hugs me in snugly. The shoes then, the jewelery, lovely big chunky things, the mist of fragrance, a check of the contents of clutch, a last look in the mirror, and the last deep breath of the day.
The one just before the door opens, and closes, clack, locked behind you.
More later on so many lovely people and moments.. Nice to be back.