Oct 13, 2013

Petra and Mrs. Bellejambes

Google Analytics tells me that as many as 5 or 6 visitors pitch up daily here. Surely the vast majority are relentless bots, preying and prying on lonely hearts with blandishments of links and love. For those of you with a heart, fondness for this dusty old book, and hopes for seeing it tidied up a bit, welcome back.

Petra shoulders her bag and does her thing from time to time, just not so much here in the Digital Commons. When Petra does do her groove thang, it’s all still gorgeously electric. Then, after a change, a wash up and maybe a good night’s sleep, poised at keyboard, I am able to summon up only the chronicles of a chronically dull teenage girl.

Dear Diary. Did eyes a little smokier 2day. Went shopping. Had cocktail. Not sure I like the smokier eyes. Still hate my arms. Aaaarghhhhh!!! Laters!!!! xoxo

There is no lack of banality around us, and I am loath to add to it. So there. This is not to say I do not love smoky eye looks, shopping and cocktails. I most avowedly do. I simply cannot find the great and illuminating themes within those happy moments that convince me I have something of value to share.With you.

But what would we be if we did not try?


Mrs. Bellejambes and myself were readying to attend a milestone birthday party a couple of months ago. A surprise party. We knew the guest of honor was too smart altogether to be surprised, but her husband put so much work into it, we felt obliged to play along. Theme of the party was all mod / hippie 60’s, the carefree short hemlined era in which they had met.

I had not put much thought to what I might wear, but Mrs. B. was entirely swept up in the spirit and was planning and modeling her ensemble weeks out in advance. Never shy of a shoe shop, she found a perfect pair of white go-go boots with a danceable stacked heel. Up top a very contemporary abstract print in wild hues of chartreuse and violet, hitting a couple of inches north of her knees, very clingy and gorgeous on. I helped her get the head scarf right and offered up a perfectly good pair of my own vintage, 100% nylon sheers in pink. She rather hates tights, but condescended for the occasion, and had to admit that quality makes a difference. I counseled on make up too, doing a Sephora run for some outlandish lashes. Big lavish falsies, another first for the dear thing.

She was giddy and girlish with all the prep in a way she typically is not about dressing. In fact, she reminded me of me. I was so happy for her, envious of her, and oddly proud of myself for being able to help out a little. Then, mere hours before the event she asked:

“What are you going to wear?”

“O god, I haven’t a clue. Thinking of running over to Pyscho Sisters and renting something. I am sure they have a good Carnaby Street look or two …”

“Why not go as Petra? You could totally do 60’s …)

Well, darlings, I was not expecting that. I pretty quickly put the idea on ice. Most people are awkward enough in these settings without adjusting to the presence of exotic wildlife like Petra. Just too much to explain to too many in too little time. The party would have been too much about me, and god knows what the after-party chatter would have gone to.

“Maybe next time honey. Thanks for asking though”

I did mentally run through a dozen outfits I could have pulled together in a heartbeat that would have celebrated the era of peace, love and legs as I drove across town to get a more conventional 60’s guy look together. And we did look terrific, danced like idiots and had a blast. 

She meant it when she asked. And that means much to me.


Some weeks later I was halfway across the country missing out on Southern Comfort Conference. Long damn week in nicely appointed cabins in the woods with other leaders of my business unit. Think-a-thon by day, drink-a-thon by night. Me grinding my teeth in idle moments knowing I was missing out on National Prom Week in my hometown. Late home Friday night, tired and happy to be again with wife and peerless dog, I woke up Saturday with a burning need.

“Darling, tonight Southern Comfort wraps up. Would you mind if I dressed and took in a night out?”

“There will be drinking. No way you are driving”

“I can park overnight and cab it home. Or you can come too. How about it?”

“OK. Will Cindy be there? How about Gabrielle?”

“I honestly don’t know, but hey, you are sure to see some people you know”

Snacks and drinks with some old friends met at the lounge. Tall Bobbie, stately Barbara, and the whole floating, fragrant parade of girls all strapless and cinched, big-haired, small purse party night looks, such fun. Loads of chit chat about friends not seen this week, and where the hell have you been air kisses and hugs. Mrs. Bellejambes is to be admired really. It can’t be easy on her, she did not seek out this wild company. Bless her she shared a table with us all and give my knee a nice tap time to time.

She seems to be more willing to indulge Petra, or at least has gotten past all the reflexive and entirely understandable Waco Tango Foxtrot impulses that must possess a woman married to man with some of the differences that I, and perhaps you, have.

In point of fact, perhaps Petra has some catching up to do in this regard. Petra needs a little more work on indulging Mrs. B. You see, I have always been more concerned with how my wife copes with, reacts to and lives with Petra, “the other woman”. There is another level I have been oddly blind to:

How does Petra cope with, react to and live with Mrs. Bellejambes?

I must self-assess a failing grade. I tend to dress for times when the house is empty. I adopted this behavior out of a desire to spare my gentle wife moments of confusion and despair. Perhaps I even found a little nobility in it all …. “see, I am willing to sacrifice, and keep Petra more or less out of site, that’s how much you mean to me …”.

Seen from the other end of the telescope of course there is a whole ‘nother picture. Selfishness, lack of openness, furtiveness. Perhaps from that perspective, even dishonesty.

Mrs. B has shown the resiliency and adaptability that woman, in my experience, typically bring in better measure to life than the lads do.

If I claim to be a better person as a result of having tapped into my famous feminine side, where, precisely, did I mislay my own resiliency and adaptability?

I still fumble trying to find things in my purse pockets you know. Keys to the car, and maybe keys to the future, Going to find a flat surface, empty the bag and have a little sort through things.

Might need to bide some time with a cheezie diary entry here in meantime….


Lynn Jones said...

5 or 6...

But I do check the RSS feed and hope there will be a little gem of wit from this site. <3

The party would have been too much about me, and god knows what the after-party chatter would have gone to.

If I may say, that small sentence speaks volumes about you. That you do care, that you do understand that marriage is a partnership, not a series of demands, roles or rituals.

Yes, it is possible to spin the telescope and look from the light into the dark, but I don't get that vibe (See, the 60s stuff is catching. I'll be saying Grrrovvy in a mo).

I think it is pretty much always a given that it is possible to look at the negative aspects of any behavior and select the manipulative/selfish/martyr aspects of it.... but again, it doesn't read that way to me. You seem to want to walk the line of having both worlds, and compromise will be part of that. But then, compromise has to work in both sides of the partnership. There are worse things a husband could do. Sure, we're not perfect, but you try.... which is more than many people do.

Keep your 'scope to the stars, Petra. Sparkles are better than darkness. ;-)

PS: Groovy, baby. :-)

Petra Bellejambes said...

And that light in the firmament must be .... Lynn Jones!

Thanks for the good words m'dear. You are a star.

Cheers - Petra

Halle said...

Oh Petra it is so wonderful to be on the receiving end of this conundrum. Now let's see. You aren't concerned that Mrs Bellejambes refuses to acknowledge the possibility that Petra exists. Thank goodness, because if I knew anything about that, the book would gain fame and fortune for me in our community.
Seriously, I'd start with dinner together, a girl's night out soon after. Some shopping trips.... Need I carry on?
Perhaps it would be correct to say, knowing you as we do, when you figure this out we will all be beneficiaries.
Welcome back old friend.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Good to be back my dear old friend and country woman. Well, yes there are things to figure out. There is a blessing, yes?

Sorry I have missed everything going on in your world. Will pop in later to learn and say hi.

Cheers - Petra

Pat Scales said...


It is always nice to find a new posting on your blog. This post was really quite affirming. It shows that you are loved by your wife and that she has gone the extra mile to understand you. It also shows how much you love your wife.

I do hope to see more of your writings soon.


Petra Bellejambes said...

Hey Pat,

Good to see you here. Grateful for the visit and nice thoughts. You hit it - I am fortunate.

I am also reminded how much I enjoy the puzzle-piecing of a blogg post. Will try to treat myself to that more often.

Cheers - Petra

CyndiLou said...


Petra Bellejambes said...

Me too! Hugs to J and you from us both.

Cheers - Petra

Calie said...

Oh, how I have missed your writing style! What a wonderful post.

Mrs B must be quite the woman! You two have a beautiful, open relationship that should be a model for all.

Please write more often, Petra.


Anonymous said...

"I am just going outside and may be some time."
Reading your beautifully written blog was always a real pleasure and I'm hoping that your temporary exile has not morphed into something more permanent.
I went through a phase where I thought if I am going to dress, I'll do it as best I can - as so I did. However, it was like hill-climbing. Each time I moved one step nearer the ideal - whether it was buying a wig, having make-up lessons, having my legs waxed or starting hormone treatment.. I was aware that attaining one target only brought others into view. And ultimately this cycle of reaching out ever further led inexorably towards you-know-what. Yes, GRS. I even saw a shrink who was willing to approve the process.
Fortunately, sanity kicked in in the form of my beloved wife and I stepped back from the edge, threw away all my precious things and haven't bought anything in the intervening 7 years. (cold turkey..) That's not to say I haven't been tempted - but I place my marriage in top spot and there it rests.
If you are going through the agony of deciding your future path, writing it all down can be therapeutic.
Courage, dear Petra..

Anonymous said...

PS And if, out of sisterly solidarity with Mrs B, you have thrown the key to Petra's wardrobe into the long grass down the garden, I'm sure you've had many entertaining internal ruminations on the subject of her since you tapped out your last elegant column here.
Yours is too observant and stylish a voice to be muted.. it needs to be heard.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Darling Anonymous Friend,

Thanks so much for your visits and comforting thoughts. Please accept my apologies for not responding earlier, and my assurances that the keys and the wardrobe are very much in tact.

I do have a theme or two I want to expand on and may use as a platform for updating this blog on recent goings on.

So out of practice though you see, and as always, time is under siege from a thousand jealous suitors.

I so appreciate your outreach though, and will reciprocate more fully within, lets say the month.

xoxo - Petra

Anonymous said...

I think there are so few of us in this community who really 'get' what being a woman is all about..
To me, acceptance by and friendship of another woman was an occurrence to be sweetly savoured. The interaction with women as a woman was what drove me and it was/is this that I miss so much now.
This explains why the elegance of your beautifully written adventures 'en femme' captured me.. You have an authentic woman's voice and it's a genuine delight to hear it.
I think many of us here identify closely with your thoughts. Please write when the muse strikes.. but only then.

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