Why cocktail parties terrify me

Stiletto Race, Russia 2012

Stiletto Race, Russia 2012

I am a woman.

My hips, breasts and bottom make that clear to most people who pass me on the street.

That said, my height, hair and shoe choice sometimes leave room for confusion.

And that’s what I’m wondering about today. Why or how I grew up to be a mostly mature woman who can’t do any of the things that other ladies learn before they graduate from high school.

I can barely stand up, let alone walk, in a pair of shoes that require any kind of balancing on my heels.

Good friends have tried to teach me with advice like,

Practice just standing in front of mirror to get your posture right. Now shift your centre of balance. Stick out your butt. Push out your chest. Now stand up straight.

“But you just said to stick out my butt and chest…how is this even possible?”

I probably didn’t start wearing heels young enough since I was taller than most boys in high school, back when I cared about this kind of thing. So I blame short, Quebec-born men for the lack of stilettos in my closet. Hell, I don’t even own practical hush puppy heels like my grandma wore. It’s pathetic.

And then… how is it that I am 47-years old and my make-up bag contains one eye-liner that I got for free from Clinique back in 2003, two lipsticks from that same Clinique bonus bag, and a small eye shadow palette that I bought seven years ago when I was dating and thought that make-up would make me more attractive.

Really? A forty-year old who’s never learned to apply make-up thinking that her haphazard and random swipes of shades of pink and brown powder would make her look like anything more than a woman trying to look like a man trying to look like a woman?

Remember, I’m wearing motorcycle boots or Doc Marten’s on these dates. Which means I’m not in a pretty dress or pantyhose (even the word offends me). Jeans and a tight t-shirt or sweater for me. (I did manage to learn to accept the discomfort of an underwire, push-up bra, thank God!). Obviously, the eyeliner and shadow weren’t fooling anyone.

And then there was the lipstick. I’m told the two shades I own are good for my skin tone, which is a relief. But honestly, ladies how do live with the gunky feeling and that disgusting taste? Ech.

So, let me tell you about one of the men who was interested in dating a woman who was dealt an atrophied X chromosome.

He was tall. Built like an athlete. A professional who wears a suit and tie to work every day. And, a very nice man, who, for our third date asked if I wanted to watch him perform at a club in downtown Vancouver.

Musician? Nope. DJ? Uh-uh. Dancer? Why, yes, sort of.

“Can I come to your house to get ready?” he asked.

He arrived with a hockey bag which he dumped open on my bed. He had more dresses and more pairs of stilettos in that bag alone than I will ever own. And make-up? The man was an expert at applying fake eyelashes, foundation, eyeliner… hell, he could have moonlighted at the make-up counter at The Bay.

I was actually excited about this side of him. I watched him perform. He was… a bit stiff, but not bad, given he is six-foot-bloody-four and wearing size fourteen, five-inch stilettos. And a tight dress. And a wig with hair that kept falling in his face. I wouldn’t have been able to lean against the bar without falling over in what he was strutting and singing in.

After a night of dancing he came back to my place. We kissed.

“Ech. Can you wipe off the lipstick? It tastes disgusting,” I complained.

Honestly, kissees, why do you put up with it?

He was visibly hurt. Without going into the truly banal details, we woke up the next morning and agreed that we just didn’t have a connection.

No problem. Except that he told me in one of those, I’m not really thinking before I speak moments, that sleeping with me made him wonder why he’d stopped sleeping with men.


What’s a woman to say to that? You’re welcome?

That’s what was going through my mind this morning when I woke up, worried about what I’d wear to the cocktail party that the Vancouver chapter of the RWA will be hosting at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in two weeks.

Aren’t you happy to have joined me for a little visit inside my brain today? Will you share a little something from your own messed-up mind to help me feel normal? Please?

Posted in Creative writing, Drinking Scotch with Strangers, My Embellished Life
7 comments on “Why cocktail parties terrify me
  1. Tracy says:

    …at least you date…

    • donna says:

      Tracy – Dated. Past tense. Found me a man who is quite happy with my motorcycle boot collection. His prior-to-me lover could run in stilettos. Apparently, I’m a nice change!

      Also, if your comment is subtle way to say you’re not dating… my sweet boy was 10. Made a world of difference. Not necessarily easier since he thought he should have a say in my choice of a man. His request after one relationship ended: “Mommy, I hate to be rude, but could the next man you date please have a son. I’ve always wanted a younger brother.”

      The universe smiled on him. He loves his brother from another mother!

  2. mehnaz says:

    My mother had to beg me to start wearing makeup at age 15.
    I never wear heels to work. Dressing up is probably about the only time I whine.
    I’m much more comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans. I’d like someone who thought that was okay too.

    oh yeah, I can get ready for any event in 20 minutes of less. Formal or not. I’m not fussed with fake eyelashes and foundation.

    • donna says:

      Mehnaz, you’re one of the blessed ones, then, who looks like you spent time to get ready!

      For me getting ready to go out still means just two things: brushing my teeth and running my hand through my hair to make sure it has just the right amount of je ne sais quoi to it! Five minutes. Max! I actually can’t imagine having to wake up thirty minutes earlier just to put on a face and/or get my wardrobe right. My clothes are Garanimals style – every top matches every bottom! As for feet, it’s pink Doc Martens for the red & purple pallet; orange Docs for the brown & green outfits; and black Daytons for everything else.

  3. Kristina Mathews says:

    I actually learned how to apply makeup. I went to modeling school, but dropped out before we got to hair. I rarely wear makeup, but I often buy it feeling optimistic that I’ll get in touch with my feminine side. I even buy lipstick, but only wear it to community fundraisers. I own cute dresses, but when it’s hot out, it’s kind of uncomfortable to have my thighs stick together. And I haven’t worn pantyhose since I was a bridesmaid back in the 90’s.

    • donna says:

      Kristina, I have this fantasy that one day I’ll get in touch with my feminine side. In fact last week I bought some leggings online, two patterned with flowers, one with colorful gummy bears… nylons – never. Gummy bear leggings – bring ‘em on! Now I just need a black skirt to go with!

  4. Celia says:

    The nurse in me says get rid of all that old makeup – yuck – do you have any idea what’s growing in there???

    Tall thin girls have difficulty feeling “feminine” in this culture of cute dimpled blond busty girls. I’m not that tall but I was the thinnest tallest girl in my Gr 6 graduation class. And the tall guys in high school always seemed to gravitate to the cute little ones (like my sister). Sigh. So I lean towards interesting sox or earrings and shrug at whatever “feminine” is.

    As for makeup – I use those Maybelline 24-hour lipsticks so I never have to put it on more than once a day, and I have it on good authority that it doesn’t taste like anything. Once in a blue moon a smidge of black-brown mascara, but really. Forget it. Much too much trouble for living in the moment.

    Stilettos – no way. Never. Never ever wore any heel over 2″ for a few decades now. My two girls are 5’9ish” and 6′, along with their brothers, 6’3″ and 6’7″… The tallest guy is with a 6’3″ very slim wife; the two girls are with guys about 6ish’. My 6′ daughter loves to wear crazy high heels – red in particular – making her significantly taller than her guy. She says I have a “height-ism” problem and I should get over it (with a hug).

    You have to love the diversity in the universe. I’m afraid you’re about as normal as they come, Donna. Not average. But definitely normal. Now get out there and wear those crazy leggings – you’ll be spectacular.

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