Girls, I know y’all hear me when I say we’ve all wanted to look AH-MAZ-ING for an event: a frenemy’s wedding, a holiday party, or your college Girls Gone Wild class reunion. I’m not sure who we think we’re kidding when we show up wearing Rapunzel-worthy hair extensions, and false eye lashes only Bambi himself could pull off better. Our dewy, golden, glowing skin couldn’t perhaps be the result of endless hours of costly tanning, but positively a gift made possible only by divine intervention and superhuman genetics. And by the way, we totally woke up looking like this, too. It’s like dazzling your friends with a two-carat cubic zirconia engagement ring – It sparkles, and it’s pretty, but it’s fake as hell and y’all know it. But we all do it, and we do it shamelessly. Or in my case, shamefully.
Last summer, Dave and I were invited to a gala, a fundraiser for under served children. Clearly, it was a noble cause, and we gladly agreed to attend. Since I’ve been to approximately zero galas in my life, I was fairly certain I was going to do what any rational 36-year-old, former legend-in-her-own-mind would do: try way too freaking hard. Little did I know it would all come crashing down into one epic disaster, with me of course at the epicenter. After all, you know my motto, “Go big or go home!”
Here is my story of hope, tenacity, humiliation, courage, and resurgence. Yes, all of that, and in that order. Stop rolling your eyes, Drama Queen, and keep reading…
Weeks before the gala, I poured over the pages of Seventeen In Style magazine for super cute dresses, pinned numerous hairstyles on Pinterest, and even found a picture of sultry eye makeup in deep purple that would make for perfect doe eyes set against a pale pink lip, and a dewy, rosy cheek (I know, adorable, right?). I splurged on a black fluted sheath dress from Forever 21 Bloomingdales, a pair of four-inch Michael Kors ankle booties, and some sparkly jewelry. Because this was going to be the best night ever, and I was determined to make this look good.
The morning of the gala, I got up early. I woke from that reoccurring nightmare you had about your prom night ending in disaster (oh wait, because my prom night actually did end in disaster, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I could tell it was going to be a hot and humid day solely based on my level of sweaty upper lip, and the fact that Dave’s blankets had already been kicked to the floor. The day was filled with a facial at the spa, a nail appointment, and a last minute run to the store for invisible deodorant. Then it was time to get ready.
I was filled with hope. I imagined that after weeks of preparation – finding the perfect dress, the perfect makeup, the perfect shoes, the perfect jewelry – the final outcome would be nothing short of marvelous. I would be a vision of loveliness enhanced only by my own confidence and idiosyncratic charm. I mean, right?
Silly me. Here’s what happened instead.
The hair. I suppose I should have attempted a run-through prior to the big day. But what could possibly go wrong? I mean, it was just a few hot rollers, bobby pins and a little product that would make for a fun and flirty look. In the end, the left side of my hair was fun (read frizzy and flat), while the right side toppled about my shoulders in an overly flirtatious way. Nailed it! Well, the right side anyway. The portion of hair that was supposed to be a braid that encircled the crown of my head, transforming me into the ultimate princess, had to be undone, and brushed out. Fantastic. A word to the wise – this hairstyle only looks good on Pinterest. It’s impossible to execute, and if Pinterest tells you different, they are lying to you.
The makeup. Have you ever gone all “MAC counter” on your eyes, and the result is like a giant mess of eye shadow all over your face? And when you try to wipe it off, the problem actually gets worse because you actually rubbed it into your skin creating a permanent makeup shadow effect? Right. So, that totally happened to me. Awwww, but my lips. My lips were to die for.
The dress. It was much tighter than I remembered it being in the dressing room. I double checked the tag and realized I had inadvertently purchased a size too small. Lady lumps bulged under my sheath dress where the Spanx were cutting in. I felt like a can of busted biscuits. On a side note, Spanx are pretty much an elastic death case that makes your skin feel like its decomposing. Even my Spanx were all, “Dude, this is a really bad idea!” The heat and humidity were killing me, and soon enough I felt as though I was wearing a wet bathing suit under my dress. Can you see why this would be problematic?
The shoes. Here’s the only thing I have to say about my shoes. As fabulous as they are, how did no one tell me it was the worst idea ever formulated when I decided I was going to wear ankle booties with a dress? Stumpy Leg Syndrome. Done.
I emerged from the bedroom looking like a tulip with frizzy hair and harsh makeup. I was stuffed like a sausage into my dress. I guess you could say I looked like a $5 hooker with classy shoes. It was not good. When I asked Dave, “So… how do I look?” he arched one eyebrow, ever so slightly, like an evil character in a children’s storybook, and was like, “Um…. so…. you look… great.” He lied. In an attempt to save what little confidence I had left, I replied, “Well, since my hair is long, I think I might just leave the back slightly unzipped so it’s not so tight right around here,” gesturing up and down the bust area. I sorta trailed off at the end, because saying it out loud made my already shaky plan sound even shakier.
Since tenacity is a virtue, I decided to forge ahead. I was determined to attend the gala and have a great time. After all, we had paid a lot of cash money to attend and these shoes were worth showing off.
Somewhere between cocktail hour and the first round of appetizers, the wheels completely fell off the truck. I saw an old friend on my second trip to the spanakopita line, and she was like, “Oh hey!” all cool and casual. But then she said this: “You might just want to pop into the ladies room real quick to check things out, Girl.”
I didn’t understand. Now what? Did I happen to stumble into some bad lighting? Had she noticed my half frizzy hair? Or maybe she was concerned about my smudged makeup? I stood in front of the mirror wondering how I got to this point. How on earth could it all just look so bad? At this point, my Spanx were pretty much rolled into a wet rubber band around my waist. One fake eyelash was gone and the other one hung suspiciously from the corner of my left eye. Humiliated, I piled up all of my hair into a bun on the very top of my head and cried. Then I scrubbed my face free of all that nasty makeup – with hand soap. I ditched the Spanx into the waste basket, and took the deepest breath of my life before exiting that bathroom door. On my way to the dance floor, I kicked off my boots and I grabbed two glasses of champagne: one for me, and the other – oh, that was for me, too. When the DJ played, I Will Survive, I sang louder than I ever had, and I danced my behind off. In some ways, I kinda think that song was for me that night. And you know what? It was. It turned out to be a super fun night. And I have to say, I looked borderline adorable with a high bun and a red, scrubbed face.
The best part about all of this? A photo of me looking like a hot mess made it to the charity’s newsletter the following month. Awesome. But guys, it’s cool. I totally had fun.