Wikimedia commons/user Justcurious
A couple of times a year, like a meteor shower or some other planetary phenomenon, I become suddenly obsessed with the pressing conviction that I ought to try to be a better girl. For a few weeks (it never, never ever ever, lasts more than a few weeks), I launch a multi-pronged initiative that involves me pre-planning the week's outfits, wearing makeup to work even when I don't have meetings, and not only painting my nails, but removing and re-doing the polish before it starts to take on the texture of second-hand dinnerware.
Weddings have a tendency to bring this out in me, what with the knowledge that all the other ladies in attendance will be primped and pressed to their respective nines. This weekend we flew to Miami for a friend's nuptials at the Viceroy, and so taken was I with my renewed commitment to grooming that I gladly consigned half the space in my overnighter to non-TSA-friendly bottles of product. Including nail polish that leaked all over everything else in my makeup bag.
Our beautiful Kelly Wearstler-designed room at the Viceroy
Now. Another element of my historically poor performance in the "polished and put-together" department has always been my chronic overconfidence about the amount of time these rituals demand. On two consecutive years, friends have arrived for our holiday party at the specified hour and found me dripping and shame-faced in a bath towel. (Seriously, though, who shows up exactly on time for a house party? It's fucking heartless.) So this weekend, I made sure to allow way more time than I needed. I departed the sunny pool terrace where we had been lounging two whole hours before I had to be ready. I had a plan. This is what it was:
Item 1. Draw bath in glamorous soaking tub (pictured above).
Item 2. While enjoying relaxing soak, remove old polish from fingers and toes, and reapply at a leisurely enough pace that everything will dry before I can find anything to smear it on.
Item 3. After bath, retire to shower for actual cleansing. Relish the luxurious water pressure like a woman in a plumbing fixture ad.
Item 4. Apply full, flawless makeup without borrowing it from anyone* or rushing through it at the last minute** or applying any part of it in a moving vehicle***.
Item 5. Gracefully arrive at the wedding ceremony like a hummingbird alighting on a twig.
As soon as I entered our room (solo; husband was still at the pool with his friends), I spotted the bottle of wine on the hotel dressing table - this would be the perfect touch to enhance my pampering experience! It was only a half-size bottle; how expensive could it be?
Thirty-six dollars, is how expensive. For a half bottle of wine. I couldn't do it, you guys. But what I could do was crack open the rum mini that the bride & groom had graciously included in their welcome bag, and pour a bunch of it into a glass with the unrefrigerated Coke that had been in the bag next to it. I don't particularly like rum & coke, but I had to work with what I had. And god dammit, I was determined to enjoy a festive beverage while I soaked in my bath.
And speaking of the bath, since I don't think I've taken one at all since moving to New York (I've only ever lived in pre-war buildings, and trust me, bathtubs do not make the list of amenities contributing to the charm factor of that type of apartment), I was remembering a vague childhood paranoia about bathwater never being quite warm enough. I ran it hot, figuring I'd add just enough cold water at the end to make it the perfect temp.
My bath turned out hot enough to boil potatoes. After several minutes of swearing, whimpering and scrabbling, I managed to sufficiently drain and refill the water until I could lower myself into it without shrieking in pain. I took a soothing sip of room temperature rum & coke, and reached for the emery board to begin filing my nails.
I bet you guys probably don't know what happens to an emery board when you get it damp. Why would anyone know that? Normal people file their nails when their hands and everything around them are dry. Well, I'm here to tell you that what happens is the little crystals on the surface disintegrate. Instead of the board filing away my nails, it was happening the other way around. But it was fine. It was fine. Nobody was going to notice my scraggly uneven-length nails, anyway.
Finally it was hair and makeup time. A recent and life-altering revelation for me was the discovery that if I spray my bangs with volumizer, wind them over a roller brush and then zap them with a dryer, they will take on a covetable gently-curved shape instead of hanging against my forehead like overcooked linguini. This has quickly become part of my daily regimen; it's dazzling to me that such a rudimentary trick could make such a visible improvement to my appearance.
But did my roller brush make it to Florida with me, my friends? The answer is no, no it did not. And it turns out that roller brushes don't rank alongside shampoo and dental floss in terms of the emergency toiletries that hotels keep on hand; not even at the Viceroy. So when the Big Moment arrived, instead of whipping out my brush to do the Magical Thing, I had to spend an anxious 90 seconds ransacking the hotel room for any workable stand-in. My eyes skipped over a peanut jar (too short) and a Voss bottle (the heat will release BPA's from the plastic!) before settling on my dear old friend, that little upstart $36 half-size bottle of wine.
I held the bottle. My husband held the dryer. Together we pressed the poor woebegone bangs in place against the curve of the bottle, since there were no brush bristles to work with. It was the first cooperative grooming effort of our fledgling marriage, and we pulled it off in style. My bangs were as curvy and bouncy as the D-cups I will never have. And I even made it to the ceremony on time.
Wine-bottle bangs. Pretty respectable!
But I've still got lipstick on my cheeks cause I forgot my blush.
*I did this at the last wedding I attended
**I did this at that same wedding
***I also did this at that same wedding