It's been said here a few times but I've got a thing for clothes. Not just for buying them - though I like to - but for making them, for accessorizing them, for putting together a kick-ass outfit. Generally, this is strictly for my own amusement. There's been more than once that I've shown up at the schoolyard for pick-up in some dramatic ensemble - knee-length motorcycle boots, jeggings, wool wrap dress, vintage floral headscarf, giant parachute bag - that only the most faithful Project Runway aficionado could understand. Most of the other moms and dads just probably think I'm weird. And have too much time on my hands. If only it were so.
We went to a wedding this past weekend. The groom was our friend, Peter, who I met in swim class when I was four, who, together with Ben, terrorized the public with skateboards in middle school, who, in high school, accompanied me and our gothish clique to Old Mill Park for a midnight swing or Fernwood Cemetery to drink beer with the moonlit headstones. He's a good friend, our Pete, we've seen each other through a lot and last Saturday he married his sweetie, Jenn. Who, by the by, had the most fantastic wedding dress I've ever seen - a knee-length fifties-cut number with bright red pumps.
I find at weddings, virtually every wedding I can remember, that at some point during the festivities, I am pulled aside by a gay man - generally a gay man I don't know - and told, sotto voce, that I look fabulous.
For someone who focusses so keenly on her clothing, I don't get this very much. Yes, my girlfriends appreciate my efforts. But as far as male approbation, the straight men in my life generally don't have the eye. They like pretty, don't get me wrong, but often the fashion-forward details sail right over their heads. I have a number of gay friends who have no interest in fashion but there's a certain lovely slice of the gay community that, as stereotypical as it might be, love a good look.
It's nice, as a woman, to get a compliment like that from a man. In some ways, particularly from a gay man, because you know they're not trying to get in your pants. They are simply loving the peacock for it's plumage.
Weddings, of course, are when I pull out all the stops. There's always some drama - this last time supplied by an enormous, borrowed African wool wrap. I muster as much glamour as I've got to give. On Saturday, I was happily chatting with my friend, Emily, another second wife (like me, like Jenn), gracefully receiving our first glass of wine (I would surely not be as graceful for the second) when the waiter, his brown eyes warm with recognition - he knew a member of his tribe when he saw it - sidled alongside me and whispered, "Girl, you look stunning. Just. Stunning."
There were years, post-acting, post-writing-program, pre-blog, years of small childrens' constant demands, that choosing my clothes in the morning was my sole act of self-expression. And while, yes, they're just clothes, to really be seen, my artwork fully absorbed, by these momentary wedding friends, is gratifying. It's not an Academy Award, it's not the New York TImes bestseller list, but it's something. An appreciative audience, what more does an artist want? I hold my own private title as the Liza Minelli, the Joan Crawford, the Marlene Dietrich, the Madonna of the suburbs.