Tag Archives: Dress Up

Prince, the Purple Train and High Heel Shoes: Bonding With My Daughter

I can’t believe another summer is drawing to a close. Despite my mother being right (and mother’s always are—despite our daughters disavowing that fact), I refuse to admit the days of sunshine and roses seem to be going faster the older I get. But, here it is a week into August already, the school supplies are running low on the shelves at Walmart and I’m calculating how many pool days I might have left before I risk getting hypothermia in the unheated water.

So it was two months ago, today, June 7th, that my daughter and I attended a party in honor of the late, great Prince on what would have been his birthday. We live about 100 miles, as the crow flies, from Paisley Park. Prince is a god in these parts. Any party in his honor is going to be a rocking time, but one hosted on a historical rail car billed the Purple Train for the evening, makes that literal.

As planned, I picked my daughter up at her house. As expected, with two children and a man-child husband, she was running just a tad late. Having worked delays into the schedule didn’t stop me from engaging in a smidgeon of interstate impatience. I mean, seriously, you could hardly call a few choice commentaries on the rush hour commuters’ collective I.Q. road rage.

“You’re going to be one of those really crumidgey ladies when you get old, aren’t you?” 

She meant curmudgeonly. I prefer to think of myself as crotchety. It infers the feminine aspect of curmudgeon—or at least I like to think so.

My first thought was, I am old. But who could blame her for not recognizing my sage position in life. I was the one who bought the tickets to the party, I was the one driving us to the train, and I was the one dressed in purple from the fedora on my head, wrapped with purple paisley scarf trailing down my back, to the purple patent stilettos on my feet.

All of this went through my head, before I answered her question. “Yes, when I am old, I’m going to be a real bitch.”

She, in no purple but wearing appropriate skinny jeans, big-hoop earrings and a pair of drop-dead, four-inch, leopard print platform pumps, laughed and said, “It will be so much fun taking you out of the home for day trips.”

It’s my own fault, I raised the smart ass.

Staged on a moving, vintage train traveling a fifty mile scenic route and back one might have questioned our elevating footwear. We ourselves briefly considered the wisdom of dancing in high heels while being jostled over railroad tracks in poor repair, but for two women with more than 100 pairs of shoes, booties, boots and sandals between us, it was a brief debate. The shoes won over wisdom.

There were four cars making up the Purple Train (it wasn’t really purple). The first was a boxcar empty of anything but the DJ’s sound equipment and purple lights. Next was the bar car, followed by two standard commuter coaches.

Our plan was to spend at least some time in the comfort of the roomy, vintage passenger seats. It was a good plan, made better by the fact that the sound quality of the Prince catalog was far superior in coach than it was in the dance-party car. But, much as the shoes were a necessary part of the ensemble, a DJ spinning Prince meant there would be non-stop dancing.Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 2.34.38 PM

It’s good for a crotchety old woman like myself to put on her high heels and haul her old dance moves out onto the floor once in a while. Maintaining my balance in purple stilettos while dancing on a rocking train proves I’ve still got it.

Having my daughter lean in close to tell me to please, don’t break a hip it will spoil the party, is just more payback for raising a smart-ass.

After three hours (with a long, planned stop at the far end of the track) the Purple Train pulled back into the station and we headed back to my baby blue VW Bug, Blucy (she has false eyelashes on her headlights). I kicked off my shoes and removed my fedora. My salt & peppa hair was plastered to my head with sweat, from dancing or post middle age flashes—I’m not sure which.

“Let’s stop at the Choo Choo for a drink,” my daughter suggested. Yes, that’s the name of the bar. Yes, it’s a rail road town.

“But, I have hat hair.”

“So put your hat back on.”

Despite embracing a somewhat bohemian esthetic, I don’t normally hang out in working class, neighborhood bars dressed to draw attention. I raised an eyebrow at her.

“You can practice your crabby old lady routine.” She said. “If anybody asks about the hat, just tell them you’ve been riding the Purple Train all night long.”

“That sounds like a drug euphemism.”

“Even better!” she laughed. “I’ll stand behind you and shake my head, saying ‘Old hippy—too many psychedelic trips.”

That could be fun,” I said. “The trips, not the hat hair.” 

I snugged my hat onto my head at a daring angle and squeezed my swollen feet back into my heels. 

The summer isn’t over yet. Bonnie Raitt is appearing under a big top in three weeks,  just fifty miles from my daughter’s house. Now where did I put my cowboy boots?


There Will Be Dancing

It’s Halloween, or Samhain, a favorite celebration for me, combining two obsessions—my attraction to the macabre and my desire to play dress up . . . preferably in over the Witch Sisterstop, glittery, feathered finery. I think there is a distinct possibility I was a drag queen in a former life.

I have happy memories of childhood Halloweens. I actually met my second husband for the first time on Halloween, though neither of us knew then what fate had in store for us half a lifetime down the road. I can’t pinpoint the exact year it happened—we were children in costumes, neither knowing who the other was, but it’s very likely this is the 50th anniversary of that fleeting but memorable chance encounter. Our paths would not cross again for nearly 35 years—but that’s a story for another time.

As Diana RossThere are two kinds of people when it comes to Halloween—those who wear costumes, and those who don’t. I am a costumer, even when propriety means going as subtle as pinning a small, enameled jack-o-lantern to my collar. More often, I spend weeks planning my costume, making sure I have every necessary component and even putting it all on for a dress rehearsal. I’m just not feeling the fun this year.

I started out as I usually do. In fact, a long black sheath dress, red feather boa and gold lame gloves have been hanging outside my closet door for two weeks now. A pair of silver and gold sequined, platform heels rest on the floor at the hemline of the dress. It’s an awesome ensemble perfect for the costume party at our neighborhood piano bar. False lashes wait in my vanity drawer, with sparkly jewelry nestled in a dish atop.as PatsyCline

Now here it is, the morning of the day, and I’m still not feeling the fun. I really don’t even want to hand out candy at the door this evening. If there is such a thing as a Halloween scrooge I am her. Perhaps I will be visited by three spirits tonight, which would certainly seem more fitting to this holiday than to a Dickensian Christmas.

Spectral visits or not, I’m starting to feel that my lack of enthusiasm for spooky revelry is signaling change—as in change of life, or so our mothers called it.

Seriously? I’ve already lost too much to this grim reaper of youth—my, once, naturally slender body, my glowing, sans make-up skin, my stamina, my dare-devil courage, and my full head of curly hair.

Okay, the curls were chemically induced with perms, but now the perms won’t even take. In its natural, post-meno state my hair is coarse and hangs in very limp, almost—but not quite wavy—locks. If I straighten them with a flat iron they wiggle back into their natural frizz at the first hint of humidity. When I painstakingly curl, wrapping each section around a hot iron and then twisting it around a Velcro roller to cool and set the curl, it still ends up a flaccid and frizzy mess before I can get out the door.Sweet mama and Big daddy

It’s bad enough that the family centered holidays have changed forever. With half our children moving further away from home, blended families having too many visits to make, and the aversion to family dysfunctions that used to be the life of the party, the hubs and I have reconciled to making new traditions.

This is my only all-fun-all-the-time holiday. I don’t have to clean the house for three days, cook for two and then clean again after. I don’t have to shop for weeks ahead of time, buying meaningless gifts to add to other peoples’ stuff. I don’t have to try to coordinate a date that works for everybody—somehow never on the actual holiday for us because I’m the mom that doesn’t lay a guilt trip on her kids.

As the Great Pumpkin is my witness, I will not let menopausal malaise steel Halloween from me! I will get dressed up tonight, I will go out and I will dance—

Oh yes, there will be dancing.


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