And The Good Thing Is...
by Lovell Mahan-Moutaw



And the Good Thing Is...

Fashion

Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Rene Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair, Julia Roberts in I Love Trouble, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. Kelly McGillis' leather bomber jacket and tight-fitting skirt in Top Gun. Marilyn Monroe's white halter dress in The Seven Year Itch. Joan Crawford's shoulders. Diane Keaton's khakis. Demi Moore's micro-mini do in Ghost. Uma Thurman's vamp nail polish in Pulp Fiction. Nigel Tufnel's exact-replica-of-a-human-skeleton t-shirt in This is Spinal Tap.

Fashion.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. I love thee with mine eyes. You are gorgeous. Gorgeous, not versatile, not affordable unless you have the fictional Thomas Crown's bank account, not wearable unless you have an actress', or better yet, a model's body, not practical unless you plan to sit in one position all day and hang out with a multi-trillionaire in St. Tropez or a pack of drag queens.

I guess I just love thee with mine eyes but I attempt to worship thee with mine body.

Ah to be a drag queen, where over-the top is de rigueur; the more expensive, loud and flashy, the better. In a world of drag queens, Patsy and Edina would be alternately worshipped and reviled, no middle-of-the-road-who-are-theys, as it should be.

Sure, I could mosey into the office with a Hermes silk scarf wrapped around my head and tucked nicely around my neck, a pair of DKNY sunglasses perched on my nose, a Calvin Klein black leather jacket adorning my upper body over a Chloe tank top, a pair of Ralph Lauren slacks and a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes with stiletto heels, but the mortgage (not to mention the utility bills, insurance, car payment, unending student loans, food, etc.) would go unpaid and my coworkers would be consulting psychologists. Hell, they think I'm loopy for teetering around for nine odd hours a day on my beloved four-inch Nine West, pointy toed, narrow heeled pumps, my long burnished red knit skirt with the side slits up to my knees and black Gap wool ribbon cardigan with the stylishly printed silk scarf jauntily tied around my neck while my slightly less circuslike Ginger Spice dye job falls into my eyes and gets tangled in my eyelashes causing my contacts to gum up and...

Why oh why do I spend an extra twenty minutes in the morning trying to affect Russo's sexy, flipped do in Thomas Crown or even bother to tear out the picture of Ally McBeal's Courtney Thorne-Smith to show to my "stylist"? This, only to have it hanging around my face, giving a lackluster performance and driving me batty as it drops in to my eyes. Sexy or not, it's damn annoying and it gives me a headache. Well, I could go for sexy if it just...were.

It all would be so damned humiliating if I didn't have such a sense of humor and, thank the Lord, weren't so frightfully tall and imposing. Clothes don't look good on me, but they don't look ridiculous either, and with my German bones and my enormous breasts, people are too scared to make a comment, at least to my face (imagine an East German track star with a sense of style). Except my sister, who, after viewing one of my four (in four different colors) wrap-around, cleavage baring, polyester, I-wanna-be-at-a-disco-now! blouses said, "That'd be cute, if it was worn by a fourteen year old."

Fashion!

I hate it as much as I love it. I greedily go through my magazines and my catalogues and oftentimes hopelessly search (usually while sucking down pints of Godiva's chocolate hazelnut praline or scads of chili-cheese fritos or drinking heavily-laced-with-Captain Morgan's diet cokes) for a dress akin to the one I saw Minnie Driver wearing to a premiere or a skirt that matches the style of Meg Ryan's ensemble in the last US magazine. If I found it, well, it isn't designed for a girl with breasts and hips (and asses and stomachs for that matter, and God forbid you actually have thighs) who tower over most of the men she knows.

Fashion...

I can still see the shoe on the woman with the shapely leg in the first moments of the nightclub scene right before Phil and Bob meet Judy and Betty in White Christmas. After first seeing that, I crossed my leg and pointed my toe for two months. Foot cramp be damned! (Twenty years later, success! - my neighbor, a glorious drag queen whose shoe wardrobe more than doubles my own (we wear the same size), has a pair of shoes JUST LIKE THE ONES IN WHITE CHRISTMAS! Oh, if she only had the dress Betty wore during that horrid "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" number.)

One viewing of Gone With the Wind had me prancing around our farm in my mother's old prom dresses for, I kid you not, years - until the dresses were in tatters and I "wasn't going hungry again" practically every hour on the hour.

I will even cop to dressing like Pinky Tuscadero for a day in fourth grade. Luckily that impersonation didn't last for long.

And the good thing is...I'm not alone. Oh, I know fashion is fashion just because the rich and beautiful wear it and everyone tries to copy it. Hell, Norman Rockwell immortalized it for the day when girls get a clue and love themselves because they are sharp and funny - not starve themselves in an effort to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

What I mean is, going through old pictures, I found my mother, another big-boned, breasted and hipped girl, during her Audrey Hepburn phase. Pixie cut, cute sunnies, black flats and flouncy, white, petticoated, sleeveless dress, Darling, it was gorgeous. La Patty, now staid, sedate, conservative and syntheticized, forty years ago tramping around like Sabrina. Pure brilliance.

And the best part about it is...

She was beautiful, a stunner, breathtaking. My Mom had it and if I believe, well, I do too.

And, you know what, if you believe, so do you.


Lovell Mahan-Moutaw
CineScene
1999