it's not an exaggeration to say that i blew into DC with the most badly packed suitcase ever in the history of ever.
4 pairs of shoes.
3 days in town.
even at the most superficial level, it's plain as day that math doesn't work.
so you can imagine the sense of doom i experienced when, upon pulling the fancier of the two dresses from my bag thirty minutes before the reception at which i was due to wear it, i discovered a constellation of stains had bloomed all down the front of the skirt.
i can improvise under pressure. that's not to say i make excellent life choices, just that i can often think on my feet and not totally cock up. often, but not always.
thirty minutes before i'm due at kitty kelley's, i'm standing in a hotel bathroom in my underwear attempting to eradicate the spots on my fancy dress through the application of water and the deployment of a hairdryer, a process that- given that i'm performing it on silk- only adds a larger, secondary layer of spots over the preexisting spots to create- at crotch-level- an effect best described as aurora borealis.
it takes ten minutes to choreograph and commit to memory the stance necessary to conceal said stains: shoulders back, right hip popped, right arm at a 120° angle in front, handbag held vertical.
only after perfecting this posture do i see the other stain.
i can often improvise under pressure but sometimes you're simply doomed. placing all hopes in an early sunset and the notion that kitty kelley was likely a woman who likes her lights low, i wore the dress.
that evening- shoulders back, right hip popped, right arm at a 120° angle in front, handbag held vertical- i pretended i wasn't wearing a stained dress and gave my best impersonation of a witty, world-class biographer. or at the very least, a woman you would want to edit your book.
as i stood there, precariously gesturing with a glass that seemed to be weeping with condensation, the heel of my gold payless shoe caught within one of the many trenches comprising kitty kelley's treacherously bricked back yard, an incredibly glamorous author's wife, on whom i developed an immediate girl-crush, complimented my appearance. she said i looked "so very belle époque."
after the reception, after the glamorous author's wife and i had removed our stilettos and walked through the side streets of georgetown in bare feet talking about the books we read in high school and our shared mississippi heritage, after i'd caught a cab and was back at the hotel- i looked in the mirror, at my beautiful dress and all its horrible stains. and i smiled.
because i was very nearly entirely certain that as i stood there in kittey kelley's garden, no one had seen it. the spot on the back of my dress. the ones on the front, yes, likely, but not the spot on the back. not the round one that looked like a shooting target circle, right center of my ass.