Monday, July 20, 2009

The Mysterious Lady In The Closet Of Hats

Me

Alone
In a house built in 1850
Full of antiques
Flapper clothes
Shawls
Blown glass candlesticks

Dainty porcelain wonders
tiny beaded purses on the wall circa 1920s
gold makeup compacts with matching lipstick holders
and $870.00 worth of splendid vintage hats and antique hat boxes
Why didn't one of you stop me?

Hats. Did I mention hats?
There was something spooky about that house
and I was the only customer for two glorious hours, the owner on the porch talkin' small town politics. Oh, what a lovely afternoon.
Up the stairs I went....
past the blinking porcelain dolls that looked like dead babies and spying family photographs on the wall (you know the kind where you swear the eyes are following you) to gleefully discover a tiny closet

on the side of the chimney way in the back
full of boxes
and
bows
Something. Someone. Made me try them on.
All. Of. Them.

Last I checked I was a grown woman. Past grown. Waaayya waaaayyy past....never mind. Just past. That's all you need to know. So why do I do these things? What possesses me to unpossess myself? Goddess of Priss. There is nothing that can touch me in that Venus laden universe. It's a curse!

I could not stop at one. Oh no. I had to wear the blue one (my favorite) the white one (my favorite) the straw hat with the red flower (my favorite) the fab
ulous black and white wide-brimmed (my favorite) the pink one!!!! (my favorite!!) Quiet! Listen. Someone might be coming.

I blame my mother.

All through my adolescence our house was filled with pink bottles of Mary Kay and Beauty Control cosmetics. They were everywhere.




Cutting green eyes. Blond hair. Chiseled bone structure. Petite. Turn-a-man's-head-kinda-lovely. Confident. You- have-the-prettiest-mother-in-the-school-mom. A light-haired beauty she was. In some ways on the outside we were different as honey blond and auburn, green eyes and brown. Underneath the surface, well....we were diametrically different, except in one regard: The priss, my friends, does not fall far from the tree.


While most girls in the seventies were being taught to bake brownies and pies, I would walk out of a room in my house only to be met with lipstick shades of every color in the rainbow perched on a little palette of colors and a brush that tickled my lips attached to my mother's fingers like a cigarette lover clutches a smoke.


I, believe it or not, was her living breathing mannequin for all things creamy and rouge-like. "Mimi! Stand still!" My sister ran screaming from her.
I learned to pucker.
But the lessons I learned at my mother's fingertips were in no way the lessons she intended for me. While she experimented with the surface, I began even more to listen to the inside. It was rebellion of the most intrinsic kind. I wanted to be deeper than the powder she applied, stronger than facades, authentic all on my own thank you very much. I didn't want her to cover up the real me. My transparent nature drove her crazy. And while I treasure the part of her that taught me pride and priss and womanly virtues, I learned that love painted on with a thin thin brush is never permanent. Mannequins are such shallow creatures you know. I don't think she ever understood that the part I couldn't wash away was the part I really wanted to own.

If one day I'm called upon to think on the gifts my mother left me, I might be forced to say something like this - While she smoothed and fixed and puffed and pampered, I was learning to love the untouched me.
I'm not sure she ever has.



So I find it not strange, really, that my radar is drawn to closets of hats. And that something as simple as forgetting my earrings can ruin an otherwise wonderful day. Bring on the lipstick and splash on the powder. They are as much a part of who I am as the feel of fingers laced with rouge.
Twist the tube and strap on a pair of heels at the end of a long long skirt that can go for miles and miles in my memory. For I have come to realize that
I am strongest and most myself when sprinkled with pallets of color and blushing things.

Sometimes they cover a girl.
Sometimes they hold a woman.
They are always
wholly
and finally
Me


38 comments:

jennifer said...

This post "(my favorite)" was wonderful.

There is an unusual bond between mothers and daughters. Sometimes I think I am working on the only legacy that I'll ever have through my daughters. I want to be remembered well in their history.

Patti said...

Beautiful post, Queen Mimi. You captured my attention from the first few words.
Your writing is wonderful.


"Priss doesn't fall far from the tree."

Too much.

Cogitator said...

All those "My favourites" made me laugh out loud. You would love the Henley regatta.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

You never stand still... ;)

Jodi said...

Excellent post! --- I wish I had a hat head. I don't look good in hats.

Check out my blog for today. It is umm, last week's Queen's Meme. Better late than never right? hehehehe

Have a great day!

Mojo said...

There you go tuggin' on the heartstrings again girl. I swear.

From the "For Those of You Who Don't Know Desk:"

As lovable and beautiful as the Inner Mimi is (and she is folks) I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the packaging around her is... well, as they say "'round these parts", she's fine as frog hair ya'll. As is befitting royalty.

And that, my hand to God, is the unvarnished, un-retouched, un-adorned truth.

Dawn (Twisted Sister) said...

"I was learning to love the untouched me."

I love this line... I never thought about it that way :)
Love the photo... you look so mysterious ;)

Akelamalu said...

You sound like a little girl playing dress up Mimi. I wish I could go back to those days sometimes. I love dressing up, I do it every Saturday evening when MWM takes me out for the evening. :)

Shannon H. said...

Playing dress up is always fun!

May I have the blue hat?

The Gal Herself said...

I bet your mood and manner and gait change with your hat selection, don't they? A woman who has as many facets as you do *needs* a lot of hats.

This was a really great post, Your Highness.

Charles Gramlich said...

A very fine post. You clearly went deep in those days. And it seems you've hung around in that place.

Bond said...

This post was about hats...right?

Jamie said...

My world is sorely devoid of Priss except for one thing HATS ... particularly wide and floppy brimmed HATS. A hat has at one time or another actually convinced me to wear lipstick.

More pictures of the HATS please.

Autumn said...

I'm grateful for my bloggie friend, from the prissy exterior to the profound depths I get to glimpse in your posts.

I was never noticed enough to even be used as a mannequin.

Mimi Lenox said...

Jennifer - I can tell by reading your blog that you are a fantastic mom. They are lucky girls. You are giving them a solid foundation.

Patti - As always, that means a lot coming from you.

Cogitator - I want to go!

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - Shhhh....(and oh so true)

Mimi Lenox said...

Jodi - Your meme writing about Elvis and Billie Jean were priceless! It was too funny. I hope you enjoy this week's meme too.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mojo - Now I am blushing for real and I don't need makeup. You are sweet. Thank you.

Going to look up frog hair....It better be pretty!!!

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - I'm so glad I don't look deranged. I was going for mysterious. Whew.

Mimi Lenox said...

Akelamalu - I'll never ever be too old to play dress up. You and I would have great fun shopping together!

Mimi Lenox said...

Shannon - The blue hat was my favorite! But you may....Isn't it great?

Mimi Lenox said...

Gal - Ha! My mood changes with the length of my skirt too. Doesn't yours?
lol

Mimi Lenox said...

Charles - Well, maybe I was a tad too serious at times....but she did try my patience as much as I tried hers! Lessons so long ago.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond - In a round-a-bout way...yes. Oh, there are pictures of hats. Many many pictures of the hats. It took me all day to pick just one. I'm exhausted!

Mimi Lenox said...

Jamie - I promise to send pictures of the hats.

Mimi Lenox said...

Autumn - I am grateful for you. Hugs.

Cogitator said...

What on earth does "Fine as frog hair" mean? I hope it's not a reference to the French...... :)

Finding Pam said...

Lovely post about your memories. I love the picture of you in the hat.

Change of subject...May I vote for Dawn to be released from the Dundgeon? She is so tired of being in there with you know who?

MamaJosephine said...

HI Mimi, I really enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for inviting me to do the Queen's Meme with you each week. I would like to invite you to my newest creation in blog land; http://journalyourselfawake.blogspot.com/
if you're ever wanting a journaling excersize or a blog theme feel free to check it out. Especially if you like self-discovery or exploring spiritual awareness. I will be posting a new journaling exersize each week.

katherine. said...

I too was raised with Mary Kay and flowered hat boxes....but the priss...I seemed to have side stepped it..and my transparency drives my Mama crazy as well.

It is a true gift mimi to realize where you are the strongest...and the most you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Cogitator - I'm hoping it's pretty as in "fine"....!! The expression is a little odd. But I don't think it's French...

Mimi Lenox said...

Pam - Thank you for the compliment (and not mentioning frog hair and me in the same sentence). You are such a good friend to Dawn. I have already released her from the clutches of you-know-who.

She is so glad to be free!

Mimi Lenox said...

MamaJosephine - That sounds a lot like me. Thank you for inviting me. I will certainly check it out!

Mimi Lenox said...

Katherine - My mother and I are as different as night and day...until I remember the prissy boxes and makeup and clothes....She would never let me wear cheap makeup and taught me so much about keeping my skin healthy. She has aged well. I hope I'm as lucky.

I can see you surrounded with prissiness too! You are gorgeous ya know.

Travis said...

I don't think I've told you recently how much I value your writing. Of course you know I do, but it's best to say it often.

This is another winner of a piece.

Julie said...

I started to skim since I have been "gone" for such a long time. The brakes were applied quickly.

Thank you for slowing me down and helping me realize that reading all of you quickly makes no sense.

Mimi Lenox said...

Travis - Thank you my dear friend.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julie aka Cowgirl - We are both wearing hats now!

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