Sunday, November 17, 2013

Birthday Ball

We had our Marine Corps Birthday Ball Friday night.  I know I could just post a few nice pictures and be done with it.  But in the interest of keeping it real I'll tell you all about it -- the good, bad, ugly and ridiculous.  And the boring.

The afternoon before the Ball, I had appointments for hair and makeup at the salon.  Last year, it worked out so well, and I was eager to see how I'd look when I was all done.  I told the hairstylist that I wanted an updo, but a relaxed-looking one.  It was heaven sitting there while she wound pieces of hair around the curling iron and pinned them into place.  I didn't want to be done.  This is what she came up with and I was very impressed and happy.
Next was makeup.  I waited for about 15 minutes, and then finally someone appeared who was different from the person who had done my makeup last year.   I had not specifically asked for Sarai, and had just assumed that whoever I got would either be Sarai or another qualified expert.  I got Jessica.  She asked me what kind of look I was going for, and I described the event and showed her the dress I would be wearing.  I remarked that when Sarai had asked me the same thing last year, I had been stumped then too.  I said, "I just told her, 'You're the magic makeup person.. Um, make me look good?'"  Actually I had mentioned highlighting and contouring to Sarai last year, as I did now.  I hastened to add I know nothing about makeup, and it's only thanks to Pinterest that I've even heard of highlighting and contouring.  (If I knew anything about makeup I wouldn't be sitting in this chair, would I?)  Last year, Sarai did an awesome job of bringing out the best in my features, but I think she would have done that even if I had never brought up highlighting and contouring.  So I made a huge assumption about my salon employing more than one person who knew about makeup.  I honestly think they had forgotten I'd booked makeup, and just grabbed Jessica, who maybe does waxing, before she was ready to leave for the day.  

Jessica went to work and we chatted about all our kids, and a little about Marines and how she used to bartend at Birthday Balls.  And when she was done, I was a little alarmed at my appearance.  There was something not right.  I tried to make it look like good shock, and I said, "I'm not used to seeing myself like this!"  My face was a matte shade of grayish-beige, and I still had bags under my eyes.  My eyebrows were VERY dark and shadowy looking.  The lipstick was many shades too bright.  I looked old.  I tried to tell myself that the harshness of my whole look would probably photograph well.  Maybe it's the kind of makeup that just doesn't look good up close.  But I had no time to even think about it.  I had to be going.  The babysitter was already arriving, and we had to go early to attend Tim's boss's pre-party in his hotel suite in Atlantic Beach.  I snapped a picture, but it really doesn't do justice to how bad I looked.  I think I actually look pretty good in this picture, probably due to the flattering lighting of the salon.  In reality, my face was too pale, and my mouth was too bright.  I felt like a geisha.  She didn't do my eyes any favors either.  But I tipped her 20% and was on my way.
This is not me.
I got home, and the babysitter, Katelyn, was upstairs with the kids, and Tim was putting the finishing touches on their homemade pizza dinner, complete with caprese salad and cups of chocolate milk.  He was stressed out because he hadn't even taken a shower.  I said, "You don't have to be out here anymore.  Katelyn's here.  Pass the baton, hon!"

Then it was time to get dressed.  For my dress this year, I tried something new.  I had heard of Rent the Runway before, but had been leery of giving it a try.  I didn't understand how, if it had taken me HOURS of shopping to find the dresses I currently owned (and then alterations!), that it could ever be as easy as clicking on what I want and having it arrive at my house only two days before my event.  And then try it on and have it fit!  But I got really tired of alternating between the same two black dresses I'd been wearing for years, and I didn't feel like shopping.  So I decided to give RTR a whirl.  First, I searched for dresses I liked, out of hundreds of them, all big designer names.  Then I got to read reviews and see photos of women similar in size to myself, so I would get an idea how it fits and what size to order.  Then I selected a back-up size for free.  I was very happy, especially a few days before when they threw in some nice accessories because the original dresses I'd chosen had been returned to them in good enough shape to be rented again.  The earrings, bracelet and clutch added an extra touch of elegance.  The clutch definitely was nicer than the one I'd been planning to use.  All of this, including UPS shipping to and from, cost me $100.  Not bad at all.

Getting this dress on and adjusted properly took some doing.  There was no support or coverage in the bust area, so a bra was a necessity.  But the opening in the back precluded any bras with straps.  After trying on this dress for the first time only two nights before, I had almost panicked as I rummaged through my entire collection of bras that I hadn't seen in years and didn't even know I still owned.  What I ended up using was a Victoria's Secret push-up bra that had removable straps, probably an impulse buy in my 20s.  (Thank you, Rachael in her 20s.  I will never again throw away a bra you bought that still fits!)  Once the straps were gone, it was shaped in every other way like a normal bra, which was important because of the plunging neckline of this dress.  Even still, I had to use double-sided tape to make it stay put in front and not let the bra peek out.  It was annoying, and I would end up looking down at it at least 500 times throughout the evening, like I had a nervous tic, and surreptitiously trying to adjust it.  Tim, beside me at the linear head table would tell me, "Stop it. You're fine."  And I'd reply with gritted teeth under my breath, "How do you know, you're over there?"

Here I am, dressed and ready to go, except for my nude pumps which I should have buckled before I put the dress on and got the tape in place.  Now Tim would have to do it, lest the tape pop out of place and I have to start all over.  Once I was all put together, I thought I looked pretty smashing.  As I snapped this picture, Tim came in the door and said, "What the heck are you doing?  We've got to get out of here."
I said, "But what about setting up the tripod out front and getting some good photos?"  "Not gonna happen," he said flatly.  Then he yelled upstairs for Delaney, and she snapped the following picture of us.  She was dressed in her cargo vest from her paleontologist Halloween costume that she'd been showing off to Katelyn.  
We got in the car, and as soon as Tim started it he said, "You didn't fill up the tank?"  I said, "Um, no."  "You're got to be kidding me!  You're the one who wanted to take the car."  This is true.  I wanted the butt warmer since it would get chilly at night.  But I hadn't thought my opinion made a difference, and we'd be taking the truck.  Anyway, it only takes a few minutes to stop and fill up the tank.  So I thought.  I snapped the following picture a few minutes after we stopped at a gas station, waited three minutes for a pump to open up, and then said pump would not dispense.  All of this was my fault.  Tim had the truck gassed up and ready to go, but here we were in Havelock still trying to get gas.
Haha, you're stuck with me!
"You still have to buckle my shoe," I told him.  "And my phone's battery is getting really low."  In reply Tim tapped the sunglasses compartment that also contains a phone charger.  "I can't lean forward," I reminded him.  He shook his head and sighed heavily.  I said, "Bringing me to the Ball and bringing a 4-year-old -- no difference."  "Seriously!"

We got to the Doubletree in Atlantic Beach, with plenty of time to drink for free socialize in the CO's crowded suite with all the other officers and their dates.  Tim drove and I drank because he's the best.  I was a little nervous at the crowd of people, many of whom I had not met since we are still rather new to this unit.  But the CO, his wife, and everyone else were so friendly and welcoming that I was soon put at ease.  The glass of Pinot Grigio on my empty stomach didn't hurt either. 

I was halfway through a second glass when I remembered to ask Tim, "Has cocktail hour started?"  I wanted to get our professional portrait done downstairs.  We hurried off, and I forgot to leave the wine I had in my hand.  As we crossed the lobby into the ballroom area, Tim blocked the employees' view of me and my unauthorized drink.  Even though no one probably noticed, I was embarrassed.  Then because I'm a spaz (and a bit of a tipsy one at that), I splashed a little bit on my designer gown right before we got in line for pictures.  Now I had a big wet spot on my boob.  I couldn't believe it.  We rushed off to as secluded a place as we could find, around a corner next to the kitchen door, and Tim worked on it furiously with a napkin.  I took this picture of the damage.  
I know, I'm a mess.  It got even worse.  Once the ceremony was over, I, along with everyone else, stampeded for the bathrooms.  When I went to wash my hands, the faucet sprayed in every direction, and my dress got splattered all over.  Between that, and the wine incident, and the bad makeup and the bodice issue with the tape, I just didn't feel like myself.  I kind of want a do-over.  No, not really.  I can chuckle at it now, but it was kind of a nightmare.
See it?
Below, this strangely cropped photo is the only good head-to-toe shot I have of Tim in his mess dress that cost a fortune and he only gets to wear once a year.  I was actually taking test shots of the space because a few minutes later, I took a picture of all the officers.  
We got home around 10, and Katelyn had been there since 4.  Tim flipped through the bills in his wallet and tried to add up how much we owed.  I said, "She's been here 6 hours.. what's 12 x 6?"  Then Tim said, "Ah, $100.  That's what I budgeted."  My overly made-up eyebrows shot up at that but I said nothing.  I was exhausted.  I just hope that she doesn't expect to be paid $18 an hour when she watches the kids for the Christmas party.

Katelyn told us that she had had fun with the kids, and that Timmy had swallowed bites of mozzarella almost whole, and then kept asking for "more cheese, pwease."  That kids lives for Friday nights and mozzarella.  They had watched A Bug's Life, and Delaney had said, "We DO get to watch a movie tonight!"  Friday nights are usually movie nights for the kids, but we hadn't told Katelyn this, and I guess Delaney had assumed she wouldn't be watching a movie. 

And that was our night.  Minus some of the drama and woe.  Edited for brevity.:)


  1. I love it! you guys crack me up, seriously

    1. Well, I'm glad I could give you some entertainment!