Friday, August 12, 2011

A Little Help with My Friends

by Elizabeth

I bought that dress probably eighteen years ago at an estate sale in Oak Lawn, a neighborhood of then-crumbling Craftsman cottages in the heart of Dallas. Never had the opportunity to wear it. (No, I have not been invited to any Mad Men parties, thanks for asking.) So when Pamela suggested we dress up to attend a premiere of The Help, there was no doubt in my mind I'd be dolled up. The only question was whether or not I'd be able to find the pillbox hat I'd fashioned to go with the dress. (I know I once made a hat, but like I said: no memory of wearing the outfit. I must have been very bored the summer of 1993.) I combed through the crammed storage space upstairs, re-searched my closet shelves, couldn't find it. So off to Hobby Lobby I went, and the resulting chapeau, I have to say, was superior to the one I crafted almost two decades ago. Put some ice in my glare and I could've been Hilly.

The rest of the group was game, too. I will eventually wheedle the price of Joan's hat out of her, but I know Kim and Pamela trawled thrift shops, as I did for my shoes. Susan borrowed a vintage sweater set that once belonged to my grandmother and, with her spot-on hairdo, showed up as the brunette incarnation of the character Celia. Julie got off a plane and onto the toll road, no time to run home and change, but her daughter Emilie sported Julie's mom's going-away dress from her 1960 wedding. And her hat was adorable.

What the other women in the group might not have known before is that my closet provides not only for 1960, but also, depending on the age of the wearer, stuff for 1536 and 1620 and 1817 and 1874 and 1925, not to mention the leftovers from my teenage years which allowed my daughter to rock her '80s party at school last winter. A quick drive out to my mom's house, and I can garb it up from the 1950s, too. I'm still sick that the 1776 dress I once owned was lost to a faithless borrower.

I love dressing up into history. I have to be honest: I had trouble suppressing the character that was begging to arise, and only the sense of decorum the other Women possess kept me from standing in front of the movie screen, making fake announcements "on behalf of the theater" prior to the show. I had my bad drawl dancing on my tongue's tip, and more than one "y'all" with more Southern sugar than Texas warrants escaped despite my lukewarm efforts to rein it in.

What's better still, is that it was a movie that was a book. A book, by the way, that is unique to our Group of Six in that we universally enjoyed and appreciated and were awed in its reading. I cannot think of another single tome that every one of us read and admired. Joan and I overlap a lot, but there are books she's stuck in my hand with a glow in her eye that met with a yawn, and vice-versa. Same for the others, around and around. But Kathryn Stockett did it for us all. As did Viola Davis, and Emma Stone, and Bryce Dallas Howard, and Octavia Spencer, and Allison Janney, and everyone in the cast. Excellent work by all, and get thee to the theater, not to mention a book store.

I've had the pleasure recently of reading several manuscripts in our group. I'm looking forward to adding a couple more to the checked pile, hopefully by year's end. The ones I've read so far would be terrific on the big screen, and I would love to have to shop for an outfit for the show. (We are all of us fascinated by history, and our work shows it.)

But ladies, are you listening? I want you to include me as an extra when you get the contract. Promise me? I probably already have something to wear.

1 comment:

  1. Cindy Keeling13 August, 2011

    What fun to see you (all) dressed up in those great clothes. Thanks for sharing!
    My husband and I saw the movie yesterday and LOVED it. I thought it was very faithful to the book. Great cast, and so well-acted!
    And to think the book was rejected by 60 agents...
    A good lesson in perseverance, eh?


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