Inside this woman (me) is an exquisite secret room, behind a trick hidden door. You know those secret passages you see in murder mystery movies – you remove a book from a library shelf and oops its really a lever and the shelf is really a door? Like that. It is a small room filled with pink feathers and heels and perfume atomizers, silk chemises and ropes of pearls and every soft, luxurious confection you could imagine. I didn’t know people’s inner lives had discrete rooms; facets, yes. Compartments, sure. I have those. You have those. I didn’t know about the room thing.
There’s a scene in the movie Moonstruck in which the lead character, Loretta Castorini (Cher) has a non-date with Ronny Cammareri (Nicholas Cage), her fiance’s brother. Loretta has agreed to one date – an evening at the Metropolitan Opera House in exchange for Ronny’s promise to leave her alone thereafter. He has fallen in love upon meeting her, you see, and is imploring her to dump Johnny.
So, Loretta has agreed to meet Ronny at the Met. No big whoop. She wants to lose him, she believes, so she’s just going to throw on a dress and get it over with. Except she doesn’t.
On her walk home from work – she’s a bookkeeper in Brooklyn – she pauses in front of her local Salon, then plunges through the door. There’s a general commotion. Hands are thrown in the air in thanks to God. Praises like ‘She’s gonna take the gray out’ waft upward to Heaven. A manicurist gives her glamorous deep red nails. An aesthetician swoops in to do her brows and apply makeup.
Emerging a short while later as a raven-haired goddess, Loretta strolls a bit further and sees a dress in a shop window. By the time she reaches home, she is laden with an array of pretty bags containing the dress from the shop window, sparkling shoes, an evening wrap, lipstick and so on.
Nobody is home. She keeps the lights low, turns the stereo on, starts a fire in the fireplace, pours a glass of wine and luxuriates in her new treasures.
No other scene in any movie in all the years since Moonstruck was made so perfectly captures my makeover fantasies. Clearly, Loretta has found the trick lever and the door to her secret room has swung open and she is reveling in the contents thereof.
I am tempted to go down a rabbit hole here. I am leaning over, peering in.
It is hard to resist saying that – any person who has ever attempted a makeover knows that it can’t be a spur-of-the-moment thing. Appointments must be made. No, first you must know what can be improved and in what manner and by whom and then, appointments. Blocks of time must be found. Disposable income, earned, etc. Sure, you too can plunge through a salon door, but don’t expect trumpets to sound and a cadre of talented beauticians to swoop. I have never experienced swooping. Many, many appointments. Zero on the swooping.
That was close, but this is not to be a bitter tirade. Nor is it a lamentation, a woman pulling every book off the library shelf trying to locate the stupid lever to get the trick door to open to get in that secret room and play with all that cool stuff.
Well, wait, maybe it is a little of that. I do want to get back in that secret room and play.
I found the pink feather, perfume atomizer chamber by chance just a few years ago. I had started doing a few nice little things for my self. Why? I don’t know. I bought flowers for my work desk. At the time, I couldn’t afford a new dress, so I wore an old dress with a new smile. I made striking collages from images I snipped from magazines. Just little acts, but something truly magical happened. Playing with all those pretty things created a buzz, a whirl, a bit of a stir.
Maybe it is a time for fluff. Maybe raising feminine power isn’t the worst response to the times.