How much is too much to pay for a party dress?

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‘Read this before handing over your credit card’

Apologies for being (sort of) late with this week’s post. Unless you’ve been living under an undecorated rock, you too have been attending party after holiday party and don’t have a lot of time for relaxing pursuits like blog writing.

Part of the fun of these parties, for me anyway, is dressing up. What’s the fun of going to a party if you can go “casual?” Since I retired, “casual” is how I dress pretty much 24/7. I like a little duding up.

Speaking of “duding up,” here’s his Dudeness looking extremely spiffy in black tie. Dressing up is so easy for guys

I was at a party last week where I admired a woman’s earrings. (Hi, Elizabeth!)  Coincidentally, we were both talking to another woman who was also wearing stunning sparkly earrings. (Hi, Kim!) Turns out they both got them at the same time, from the same jeweler. And they both spent outrageous sums on them. (No, I did not ask how much.)

I’ve worn this fur hat so much it’s now practically free. Read on to see what the heck I mean

Their Spending Guilt prompted me to reassure them with my CPW Theory. Simply put, CPW (Cost Per Wearing) means that the true cost of an item of apparel is not how much money you spend on it. No, the true cost of that item is how much money it costs each time you wear it. In other words, it’s the cost of the item divided by the number of times you wear said item.

This taffeta skirt is the same taffeta skirt in the previous shot of dressed-up peeps in an elevator. The elevator wearing was 22 years ago. But there was a glitch this last time: read “Skirting the Issue” to find out what it was

Say you spend $500 for a coat. (Is this expensive? It’s been years since I bought a coat.) Anyway. If you pay 500 bucks for a coat and wear it once, well that coat cost $500. But you usually don’t wear a coat just once, do you? I have a black plaid Burberry that I’ve owned for 20 years that I’ve worn, oh gosh, 20 years. That’s 20 winters at 4 months a winter at 4 weeks per month times 3 days a week. That’s 960 times. Even if that coat cost a thousand bucks — which it didn’t; I got it on sale — its true cost is about a buck a wearing.

Too bad you can’t see the rest of the Burberry coat here. Trust me, it’s a keeper

On the other hand, say you pay a mere pittance for something like a bargain at Target or TJ Maxx. Something like a spangly top for $20. (Yes, I have done this.) I fell for the spangly top, wore it once, then gave it away. It was sort of itchy and hot, and very very spangly. So guess what? According to the CPW Theory, that was not a cheap top. It cost me $20 per wearing. So. More expensive than the Burberry.

(Notice that I am wearing a sort of spangly top in the photo of The Child and Me admiring ourselves in the mirror while drinking Birthday Veuve. That’s not the top. This one I got on e-Bay. For 80 bucks. So far I’ve worn it twice. But it’ll get out there again. You’ll see.)

The only downside to practicing CPW is that, if you wear an item enough, people start to recognize it. As in, “Oh! I remember you — I recognize that dress.” Which happened with this one. So I finally gave it away

Back to that Burberry coat for a sec. Every time I wear it, I get a compliment. So there’s that. In fact, I told my earring-bedecked friends that even if they didn’t wear those pricey earrings lots and lots of times, they could modify the CPW Theory to be Compliment Per Wearing. So. Still a good investment, I say.

I’ll close with the ultimate in CPW, as practiced by the one and only Child.

New York City. December 2022

“I want to see what I’m eating”

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‘Let there be light. Very bright light.’

We were about to introduce “Tell No One,” a really great multi-watchable movie (I’ve seen it at least a dozen times) to our multi-Thanksgivingable pals Jim and Phyllis (they’ve been Turkey Guests at least 20 times) when Jim says, “I think we could dim those lights, can’t we?”

Jim, bless his dimmer-loving heart, just secured a Thanksgiving invitation for at least the next 20 years. Or as long as I can lift a 20-pound turkey. (Probably not 20 years, but one can hope.)

That’s Jim (in red shirt) describing a cheese. (Note turned-off ceiling lights) Of course, it is still daytime. Barely

See, I hate bright lights. Especially bright ceiling lights. In fact, if it were up to me, there would be no ceiling lights. Just discreetly placed table lamps. Maybe a standing lamp here and there.

I am particularly fond of cabinet lighting, like this in the Ken & Barbie House *sigh*

But guess who loves lights, the brighter the better? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

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The birthdays just fly on by

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‘What happened to “You sure don’t look it!”?’

I’ve whined (er, written) about birthdays before. (Thank you, Loyal Readers, for your patience with my elderly musings: “Sixteen Candles. Plus Another Sixteen. Or So.” “All Saints’ (Birth)Day.”  “Skirting the Issue.” There are way too many — kind of like the number of candles on my cake.)

A scene from one of many random birthday celebrations. I believe this one was not actually mine — I was just trying on the tiara for size

I’m actually grateful for reaching the astounding age that I have reached — especially when I consider the alternative. One of our friends, even older than I, has a motto: “Every day above ground is a good day,” with which I heartily concur.

Having a very nice time above ground with a tiara and a glam group

Last year I celebrated a Landmark Birthday — seventy, it was, for heaven’s sakes — with a fancy party and all the glam trimmings. I was riding high on birthday glory when — about a week later, it felt like — I turned seventy-one.

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Two weddings are better than one.

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‘Especially if they both involve the same two people.’

Yes, I’ve been AWOL for a couple of weeks now. But I have a very good excuse. (Many good excuses, actually, but I’ll stick with this one for right now.)

*sigh* The gorgeous Lake Louise setting. The Child pointed out that this is the second time she’s tied the knot in a National Park

The Child had a big ole wedding up in Canada. At Lake Louise — which, if you haven’t been there, is well worth the trip — with a whole week’s worth of ramp-up activities in Banff the week before. (Ditto Banff.) There was so much going on — hiking and rafting and gondola-ing and line dancing — that I didn’t have time to do my PT much less weigh in with blog posts.

Gondola-riding with a Great-Niece

Now, I have time — but so much material I can’t possibly put it all in one measly post. So I’ll focus on explaining why, since Her Childness has been legally hitched for more than a year (see the delightfully scenic “Runaway Bride” for the story) — why, oh why, she and the SIL had another wedding.

Wedding Number One: If you make a toast in the Grand Canyon and there’s no one there to hear it, are you really married?

I’m going to crib a bit from my wedding speech here. (Yes, I was asked to say a few words — but only after reassuring The Child Bride that I most absolutely would not entertain the wedding crowd with tales of Old Discarded Boyfriends.)

Child and SIL take their turn at the podium, Child looking decidedly relieved at my not mentioning old BFs

I started by pointing out that His Dudeness and I had not had a wedding. Yes, we got married, but that was pretty much it. We thought at the time that we would have a party for our family and friends after we got back from our wedding trip. Then it was, “Oh, we’ll have a party on our first anniversary.” Well, that anniversary passed, and so did the fifth and the tenth. The twentieth and thirtieth.

Mr. and Mrs. Dude, almost 40 years ago. A hot dog stand, but no party

And, gosh, the ole anniversary odometer will be turning over to 40 before too long — and still no celebration. (See “Party of Two” for a story of one of our non-celebrations.)

Another shot of Dude and Child strolling the aisle. Note uncanny resemblance. Yup, I was a conduit

Okay, you may be asking, but who cares? Why is having a celebration so important? I mean, other than that it’s so much fun to drink champagne and make toasts and dance like a crazy person and go skinny-dipping at two AM.

During the dancing, but before the skinny dipping

The reason is that weddings are pretty much the only time the family and friends of the bride and the groom ever get together. (Well, except for funerals, though I tactfully omitted mentioning that in my speech.) This was the first time I’d seen my brothers since my Mom’s 90th birthday party three years ago.

Here we are, all dressed up and ready to party: all five Henry kids, together again after three long years

And where else but a wedding am I going to get to trade sibling stories with the SIL’s great aunt on his mother’s side? Or scramble up a mountain with his Dad’s sister? Or dance with members of his college track team?

SIL’s Dad’s sister, plus Oldest Younger Bro Scott, Dude Man and Me, plotting our next move on the Scary Horrible Hike (story to follow, or not)

Yes, having another wedding — a wedding celebration — was a pretty cool idea. So cool, that maybe The Dude and I might rustle up a celebration for our 40th anniversary, after all. Though I think we’ll skip the 2 AM skinny dip. That’s a memory that would last a lifetime — but for all the wrong reasons.

Photo courtesy one of the 2 AM skinny-dippers (not me, thank goodness)

New York. August 2022

 

 

 

The Dude shares a bird-day

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‘Felicitations to a newly-minted 70-year-old, his cousin — and some future purple martins’

Last Thursday Dude Man celebrated a Very Big Birthday — his seventieth. (Gosh, that birthday is not only big, it’s really hard to type.)

Oh. If any of you are shocked — shocked, I say! — at my “outing” my husband’s age in this public way, let me assure you that I’ve already outed myself. I turned big ole scary 70 last November — and boldly and unabashedly wrote about it too. See my story “Skirting the Issue” for proof. (And fun party details.) See also “Doing the Math” for how one’s attitude changes upon reaching this hoary landmark.

 

Me, celebrating 70 in style — and with a heck of a lot of veuve

But enough about my birthday. We’re here to celebrate Dude Man and his 70 trips around the sun. Speaking of the sun, he happens to own a gizmo called a “sun scope” which he sets out on the second-floor deck and commandeers all and sundry to come up and squint through. Yes, you can see the sun. Okay, fine. But somehow I don’t quite get it.

The sun scope wasn’t a present. No, we’ve reached the stage in our relationship where we pretty much get what we want on our own. (Like that, um, sun scope.) Though I did get a request from The Dude. He wants a nice notebook in which to record the antics of his gift from Mother Nature — a flock of martins.

Dude Man’s martin house. There are martins in there. Finally. And yes, that’s the ocean in the background. I mean, what martin wouldn’t want to live here?

It was about fifteen years ago when The Dude got his martin house. And every year he’s cleaned it and doctored it (more gourds, fewer gourds, higher gourds) and watched over it. He’s opened the little doors, closed the little doors, mounted some of the gourds on the roof. Last year he played a loop of martin songs on an old iPhone that he rigged to a tree. (Incidentally, you can see the martin house over The Child’s shoulder in the photo at the top of this post.)

Nothing. For fifteen looooong years.

Then, this year two showed up. Then three, then four. They chased away some wren interlopers and kicked out a pair of flycatchers who’d settled in, eradicating their nesting materials with contemptuous tosses of their beaks.

And, on Dude Man’s birthday, this happened:

Martin eggs. Yes, you can lower the whole martin rig and open little doors on the gourds to look inside. The martins don’t mind. At least I hope not

Even more exciting (for me anyway) somebody else besides martins flew in. Last Sunday I got a call. Child: “Hey, what are you doing for Dad’s birthday?” Me: “I offered him a party, but he said no way. So we’re going to Smith & Wollensky.” “Really? Would it be okay if we came? It’s a Big Birthday.” “Of course you can come. He’d love that!”

News spreads of The Child and Hub joining us. But no, that bird is not a martin

Now, Her Childness lives in Flagstaff, Arizona — which is not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away. Which is why I hadn’t bothered to mention this dinner to her. But guess what? She booked herself and the SIL on a flight that got in the afternoon of the dinner. And when that flight was cancelled, they drove to Tuscon to catch a flight that would get them there.

“But what about the cousin?” you may well be asking.

Here’s the cousin (in back) sharing a snake — instead of a cake — with Young Dude (in front)

This cousin — a Whitmore; no doubt he puts his hands on his hips Backwards-style — has a birthday a couple of days after Dude Man, so we often get together in Amagansett to commiserate (er, celebrate.) And this year was no exception.

The other end of the birthday table, featuring Dude and SIL — and Carvel cake

So. Birds flew in. Kids flew in. And a cousin was the icing on the cake. Happy Birthday times were had by all!

Amagansett, New York. June 2022

 

 

 

Party of Two

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‘Another anniversary celebrated in singular style’

Dude Man and I didn’t have a reception when we were married. We didn’t even have a wedding. Not really. We pledged our troth in front of a Unitarian minister in the United Nations nondenominational chapel with our parents as witnesses.

With one of our wedding guests — my mom

But, barely-boned wedding be darned, we are indeed married, and have been for 36 years. Thirty-seven years tomorrow. You can read all about this long-ago non-event — and our Carvel wedding cake — in “Winning the Dude-A-Thon.

Carvel wedding cake — and hot dog stand wedding photo

Back then we decided it would be smart — and financially prudent — to blow our teensy wedding budget on the honeymoon and have a party for our friends when we returned.

Another reason for no wedding: I’d had one before. Satisfy your curiosity with “My Polio-Shot Marriage”

Well, that didn’t happen. (The party, not the honeymoon. The honeymoon was fab. We spent part of it in a palace in Morocco owned by Malcolm Forbes. Yes, you can read about that in “Malcolm and the Duchess.”) And then we thought we’d have a first-year anniversary party. Don’t worry; you didn’t get invited because that didn’t happen either. Neither did the fifth-anniversary party. Or the tenth. Twenty-fifth? Uh-uh.

Anniversary party to which you did not get invited? Nah. Here we’re partying like it was 1999. Because it was — a Millennium-Turning “Do”

Nope. No parties. If two’s company and three’s a crowd, I guess you’d say we’ve had company for our anniversary every single year.

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The time the New Year almost started without us

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‘Cancelled flights, skidding limos, and a surprise side trip to a Holiday Inn in Jamaica’

Somewhere there is a photo of a seven-something Child, slumped in one of those ‘exotic’-looking high-backed wicker chairs that corporate decorators like to install in chain-motel lobbies in the tropics, looking a tad tired and more than a little pathetic. The Child, not the chair. Well okay, maybe the chair too.

I can’t find the picture, and to be honest, it’s probably just as well.

It was New Year’s Eve sometime in the late 90s, and, instead of being in Bonaire as planned, We Whitmores had been shunted unexpectedly to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Where the only room to be found anywhere was in the Holiday Inn.

No, we’re not at the Holiday Inn. No pictures exist of that memorable New Year’s Eve. Not that I can find, anyway. Here we are, celebrating in New York City sometime in the mid-nineties

If memory serves, the whole shunting-to-Jamaica Thing was due to weather. Or maybe an Air Jamaica malfunction. Or both. Whatever the reason, we were (sort of) grateful to have a roof over our heads, what with the Holiday Crowds and all. Believe you me, that Holiday Inn was packed. And packed with families. Continue reading

Wedding Belles

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‘What’s not to like about a wedding?’

In my humble opinion, weddings are simply the best parties ever. You get to dress up, eat free food, drink free wine, and dance like a crazy person. All for the price of a wedding gift.

I can honestly say that I have never met a wedding I didn’t like. I’ve been to weddings in old New England Churches that smelled like mold (the churches, not the weddings), “hip” weddings with folksy preachers and awful guitar playing, weddings where the proceedings were so thoroughly photographed and filmed that you almost couldn’t see what was happening, weddings in back yards and on lawns and even involving hot dog stands (that would be mine to The Dude). And I’ve enjoyed each and every one.

“I Sabrett you to be my lawful wedded husband”

I even went to a wedding in the Vatican, which was pretty darned spectacular. That one got its own story, “La Dolce Vita and Me”, which you might enjoy reading. (Britney Spears makes an appearance — though, sadly, not the Pope.) Continue reading

Sixteen Candles. Plus another sixteen. Or so.

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‘Thinking flaming birthday thoughts today.’

I would light the candles on my cake this year, but I’m afraid I’d trigger the sprinkler system. I have reached a remarkable age. An age that is somewhere between ‘Can I please have a tea set for my dolls?’ and ‘Can I please leave a tea set for my Child?’

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t appreciate having a birthday. After all, as our good friend Andy (who is a heck of a lot older than me) says: ‘Any day above ground is a good day’.

Andy, in fact, doesn’t just say this. He has it printed on birthday pens and birthday tee shirts and even birthday chocolate bar wrappers. Andy is into birthdays, big time. He’s also a Trump Supporter. So there’s that.

Andy’s attitude toward the inevitable accumulation of more and more birthdays is, alas, the opposite of my own late lamented father’s. He, when wished ‘happy birthday’ (or even when not wished ‘happy birthday’, like just on any ordinary, random day) would often remark: ‘Don’t get old’. Which, um, sort of triggers a response of ‘Hmmm. Okay. But I’m kind of not into the alternative.’ Continue reading

‘Where do you keep your cake?’

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‘Questions for my Oldest Younger Brother on his Day’

Those of you who are my Devoted Readers (bless your hearts) know by now that I like to speak softly and poke fun at my Family with a big stick. Today, because it’s your birthday, it’s your turn, King Tut (er, Scott).

It’s been a long time since you and I fought over who got the top bunk. (Yes, Scott was my first Roommate of the Opposite Sex.) And a long time, even, since you and I smuggled a motorcycle into a motel room. (I see a pattern of co-habitation here. If you readers are curious and/or titillated, you can check out that story here.)

But, back to you and your birthday. And those questions.

1. Did you recover fully from having watermelon ‘jammed down your throat’? See, when Scott was just a tyke, he, like many small children, was not into trying new, unfamiliar, or weird-looking foods. He thought that red food — tomatoes, watermelon — looked particularly unappetizing. Our less-than-patient father got particularly exasperated one hot suppertime, and told Scott to ‘try that delicious watermelon right now, or I’ll jam it down your throat’. Not sure I’d recommend this technique to some of you New Parents, but hey, it worked. Continue reading