Tag Archives: Arlene Dahl

Porcupine Skull

“How is it possible …to put her hair in pincurls every night, to look attractive for me?”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man

ImageMy cute haircut has now fallen into a flippy mess, and so the other day, while watching Gypsy on Netflix, I decided to give pincurls a try.  Upon returning home from work, Ian said I looked like Miss Tiggywinkle, when she dresses up like a washerwoman.  


The pincurls themselves?  Well, they were kind of a mess.  But thank HEAVENS for cloche hats!


Aunt Libby

“Let your sons see what a glamour girl they have for a mother” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

Today I became Aunt Libby for the fourth time.  My sister Laura gave birth to her first child, a boy, Max Vaughn, at 12:03 a.m.  Max joins my nephew Jacob and my nieces Rachel and Lucy.  I went to visit Laura, Max and my brother-in-law Chris at the hospital, and while I held a very sleepy Max, Laura glammed herself up.  Laura has always been very glam, never going out without her hair done and her makeup on from a glitter clutch purse.  The fact that 15 hours ago, she gave birth to an 8 lb, 10 oz human being was not going to turn her into a slob.

My sister Shaun, mother of my nephew Jacob, has that seemingly-effortless glamour that many New York women have.  When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was look like her.  She had long, thick dark hair that fell in beautiful curls down her back and she wore silver glitter platforms to her prom.  She has a mysterious elegance to her, even if she’s wearing jeans and a black tee-shirt to push her kids on the swings.

I’m on the fence about having kids.  Right now my life is to hectic to even consider it, but I’m finally at an age where I can really start appreciating what it means to be an Aunt and how much fun I can have doing so.

A Lover Sings

“You’re the kind of girl who likes to open a bottle of pop too early in the journey” Billy Bragg, “A Lover Sings”

My friend Liz RT a post from a former, older male friend of mine: I could never be the cool dad. Unless tween girls think surliness & drinking & discolored sweatpants with weak elastic are cool. Do they?

I’m not going to go into all the moderately-scandalous details of our friendship (ask me about it at a party sometime) only that at one point he may or may not have referred to me as “his secret girlfriend.” *  But it was my early 20’s, and I was young and eager for affection, and he later broke my heart via a mix CD with Billy Bragg’s “A Lover Sings” (who does that?!?) and quit speaking to me until years later, when we got back in touch, had a too-long and awkward lunch and never spoke again.  

But seeing this tweet made me very, very sad.  He was never quite a fashion plate, although I do confess that I would swoon whenever he wore his yellow button-down and dark blue jeans, and he did have this cute blue scarf he wore clumsily looped around his unshaven neck.  He was a proto-hipster, a mix CD making, pulp reading, Chandler quoting genius.  And now, apparently, he just hangs around drinking gin and wearing gross sweatpants. But he was always surly.  Glad to see some bad habits never die hard.

Arlene and HGB and Dorothy put so much pressure on US, ladies, to stay fit and trim and cordial and pretty.  And there was no one on earth I tried to be as pretty for as him.  I would have DIED before showing up for one of our coffee dates in jeans and a tee-shirt.  Once, I wore cute go-go boots for him and he told me I looked like a streetwalker.  See what I mean about surliness?

But if a man isn’t going to put pride in his appearance, why should the woman he’s trying to woo put any into hers?  And then haven’t we all just given up?  Because it’s not about the clothes–it’s about the effort.  It’s about saying “I respect and care for you enough to put in some time” the same way we put time into our appearance when we go to work.  Looking good is not a crime.

And there is a time for sweatpants, a time for pajamas, a time for baggy jeans and a time for too-big tee-shirts. But it’s as if he’s given up.  It’s as if he’s given in.  The man who used to share his Junior Mints with me at Clive Owen movies and sat so close to me during Rififi that our knees were touching is no more, just one more sarcastic, bitter, middle-aged man loafing around while life goes by.  And those, darlings, are a dime a dozen and not worth a tenth of that.

Maybe that’s not the case, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, attaching value and meaning that isn’t there.  But what I do know is that the man I knew, the man who gave me vintage crime paperbacks and taught me to love French Roast coffee wouldn’t be caught dead slumming like that. 


*Answer: He totally did.

Throwing Shade

“Perhaps Arab women, swathed in veils, and Victorian maidens screening their complexions with scarves and parasols have the right idea”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

I was blessed with a lovely alabaster complexion that turns a hellfire red if I’m out in the sun for more than eleven seconds.  I usually slather on a nice SPF 50 before going out of the mail, but I decided to try out my vintage Chinese paper parasol, because I’m fancy.

It was cumbersome at first and took a bit to get used to.  I had to lug that and my purse, and I wasn’t going far, just from the car to the mall.  But I got a ton of compliments.

I went out to Brewery Ommegang with Mike, thinking we’d get some beers, eat some lunch and walk around the grounds.  I was still wearing high heels, but I figured that the grass was lush enough where I was going to kick them off.

We decided to eat outside because it was so beautiful out, but with two master’s degrees between us, we couldn’t figure out how to get the table umbrella up.  Ah well, I thought to myself, setting down my parasol.  We’ll only be here long enough to eat and then I’ll walk around with my parasol up.

Two hours later we’re still sitting there, just talk talk talking, and my arm and shoulder has turned bright, bright red.  And it hurt.  

So much for my delicate pale skin.  We’ll try the parasol when my 3rd degree sunburn finally heals.  But for now, aloe and long sleeves


Kiss & Make Up: Part II

Last night I tried Arlene’s suggestion that I wear pale lipstick to bed.  Now lipstick and I have never gotten along.  Within mere moments of me putting it on, I look like Courtney Love.  I’ve tried Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret (the worst, by far) and nothing, nothing stays on my lips.

I wore a little pink lipstick to bed, and was fully prepared for Ian, who came in after I was asleep, to wake up next to me screaming. But surprisingly, I did not wake up looking like the Joker.  It must have all come off on my pillow, which since I have dark red pillowcases, is just fine.  Because there’s nothing worse than waking up to a screaming husband who thinks you have mutated/OD’d.

Kiss and Make-Up

“I’m all for wearing a few touches of make-up to bed.”  Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

I barely wear makeup in the daytime, let alone at night.  I never really learned how to put makeup on, (which is something I’ll learn later in this adventure) so it’s always more fuss than it’s worth-my lipstick vanishes, my eyeliner smears and my mascara just makes me look scary.  

But last night I tried Arlene’s tip; with a little blue eyeliner, a little pink sparkly shadow and some black mascara.  Ian looked at me funny when I came out of the bathroom, and I was sure that by the end of the night, I would look like I just got roughed up at a metal concert.

To my surprise, not a whole lot of it was left when I got up.  There was a little hint of eyeshadow and a faint sparkle of eyeliner, but of course, I’m supposed to get up and be ready before Ian even opens his eyes, so I’d have time to redo all of it.

I didn’t, of course, and am now rocking this awesome “partied all night” look, which is, personally, how I kind of dig my makeup anyways.

The Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

Never top a man’s joke” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  My friend Eeon is the funniest person I know.  We’ve been discussing Justified over email for the past few days, and while I’m writing thoughtful thesis-length essays on Raylan’s contributions to the continuing patriarchy, he’s writing that a better scenario would be if Raylan had a robot sidekick named Wyatt Earp (voiced by Val Kilmer)

Yeah, I can’t top that.  All I could do was laugh until I almost choked, which is my general reaction when I hang out with Eeon (or Pete–the two of them combined are just about deadly.  All the laughing is a good ab workout, though)

Not topping anyone’s joke is a good practice to get into.  There comes a time when someone has just told the funniest story you’re going to hear in that moment, and telling an inferior one will only bring the room down.  We’re so obsessed with having the last word, being the smartest, the funniest, the most awesome, that we stomp all over other people just to be that.

Next time someone tells a joke, just laugh at it.  Tell them they’re funny.  You’ll have time to tell yours a little later, and hopefully, they’ll give you the same generous stage.