Red Carpet Night

Oscars was the theme of the party. Even my tired brain managed to work out that it must be fancy dress, but then I got a bit stuck in working out who to go as. Perhaps a famous jazz pianist; Peterson being the obvious choice, but you’d need a piano as a prop which could be a bit unwieldy. Somebody rather more in the media currently, maybe? Yet I wasn’t keen to learn to walk on blades or go along with somebody dressed as a judge. Fishing into classical literature for a wit and a poet, Wilde sprang to mind and could have been fairly easy; a frockcoat, walking cane and a haughty expression would be all that was required. Then I wondered if perhaps you weren’t restricted to going as somebody called Oscar.
I spread my mental net wider and decided that the obvious person for me to go as would be Marilyn Monroe. We have an extraordinary amount in common: we’re both female, speak English as a first language and have been married (at least at some point) and have made it past our 30th birthday. Men would only notice that we’re both blonde and have a big bust. The resemblance ends here as anyone who’s heard me sing will testify, with their hands over their ears. Also, I was never christened either Norma or even Jeane.
Costume was the next challenge. Assuming 8-10 retakes, Marilyn must have spent only about an hour of her life standing over a grating in a white dress. Yet if you turned up in skinny white three-quarter trousers and a little top, you’d need to add a badge saying I am Marilyn Monroe; possibly less than shi-shi, scoring negative points on the icon scale. I was attracted by the concept of turning up in something she wore more often, like a white fluffy dressing gown and curlers. It was only the fear of having to explain myself all evening that shoehorned me into the white halterneck dress.
My hairdresser managed to style my hair into a mass of little blonde curls at the back and dramatic sweeps at the front. As I left her salon, I realised that the last time people had looked at me like that was when I stopped for petrol on the way to a punk party dressed in a black garbage bag, bristling with safety pins. Suffer for Art, I told myself as I drove home on a stiflingly hot day with all the windows up. Yet if I stopped my coiffure blowing away, it would probably just wilt.
Everyone had dressed up and looked terrific. One of my friends had decided to go as Cruella De Ville and turned up entirely in black and white, including her hair being sprayed white on one side, black on the other. Her children had apparently decided that the division between the black and white was not pronounced enough and had put mascara along the parting. A fun little job for her to reverse the next day. Doubtless she’ll find lumps of mascara on her pillow for weeks. Life lesson number one: be careful what help you accept from your children. Needing a prop, she’d ordered a Dalmatian puppy from the Internet. Disappointingly, they sent her a stuffed one.
Most people had dressed with what they had at home. It doesn’t quite explain why the gentleman from 12 Years a Slave had chains around his feet while our host, the chimney sweep, had brushes. Odd what you find lying around the bottom of your wardrobe. Even odder why you find it there.
It seems strange that it’s called fancy dress as most the time you are not fanciable, ending up somewhere on the scale from ridiculous to completely bizarre. However, a See What You Can Drag Out Of Your Closet Party or Let’s Look Ridiculous So Our Mates Can Laugh at Us Party doesn’t have quite the same ring. In other languages the phrase is much more colourful. In Spanish it’s disfraz, in German, Verkleidung, in Swahili, mavazi dhana. If the Philippines, I’d be very happy to go to a magarbong damit party.
The real piece of acting was trying to appear normal the next day after several glasses of wine, dancing till dawn and a very short night. Now that does deserve an Oscar. I’ll take de la Renta – and his wardrobe.


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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2 Responses to Red Carpet Night

  1. val says:

    I enjoy most of your stories but this one is one of my favorites. x

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