Thursday, 22 October 2009

Trick or treat?

Last night an email hit my in-box that made me cringe.

An old friend is having a Halloween party. It'll be a fun evening with good people; no bullshit, no agendas, just simple straightforward giggling, conversation and so on. No pressure.

So, what's the problem? Fancy dress.

The last fancy dress party I went to was an ex's 40th. The location, format and company for the weekend were perfect. Problem was that the more he looked forward to the idea of dressing up, the more I felt awful. The Elvis costume was booked for him with much glee.

I was already nervous about the weekend as it would be the first time I would meet his family and many of his friends who live in different parts of the country. I offered to do the catering, which I enjoy, as a birthday present. Added worry, but also fun and something I could do for him.

The closer we got to it the more hideous I began to feel.

I wear clothes because I have to. I have a completely neutral view towards them and my body. They serve a function, and I do my best to look reasonable, but they hold no joy for me. I wear simple things and quirky jewellery (I love vintage beads more than anything). I'm not glamorous, but can be elegant. I never wear anything that makes me stand out from the crowd.

Fancy dress makes me feel awkward and shy and clumsy and fat and ugly and self conscious. It is not fun. I understand that some people think it is.

I tried not to say too much about as I didn't want to spoil his excitement and any minor comments were brushed off with 'you'll be fine' kind and conciliatory responses. I didn't tell him how sick I felt about it all.

When it came to it, I had a friend help me do my hair and I reluctantly got organised. I was running later than everyone else as the food took first priority. I wanted to run away. I delayed going into the hall. Got into ticked off for being slow and eventually emerged. I refused to be made a fuss of in thank you speeches, and luked in a corner. I didn't want anyone looking at me. Of course they were - 'Who's the girlfriend?' 'what's she like?'....

Horrible. I felt like an incompetent child and didn't behave as socially as usual. Typically I'm a great hostess, and I let myself down that night.

So, I have to face these demons all over again on the 31st or will I just make an excuse and not go? Will I go and not dress up – disrespectful and fun-spoiling? Will I put on a brave face, drink too much, smoke too much, hate every second?

These people are friends, they love me and accept me for who I am. Why can't I do the same?

Why can't I bring to bear the confident, creative, clever girl I am in my professional life to a world of devils tails and witches hats and cross dressing?

I will paint on a smile and endure.

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