Okay, I admit it—one of the things I love to do whenever we go traveling is shop. More specifically, I love to shop for things like lacy tops, silk ruanas, or vests made from vintage kimonos. I’m a sucker for anything funky and slightly romantic, which a lot of vacation spots have in abundance.
But every once in a while, I’ll see a sales lady watching me with a particular expression I know well. And I know exactly what she’s thinking: Honey, you’ll never wear that. Because, of course, she’s seeing the everyday me. The slightly older, slightly heavier, slightly bland woman who looks like everybody’s Aunt Margie. And it’s quite true that Aunt Margie would probably never wear that lace overblouse, although it might hang in her closet for decades.
But here’s the thing—I’m only Aunt Margie most of the year. Believe it or not, toots, I also have a secret identity.
Two or three times a year, I get to wear those imaginative duds among crowds of other women who are a lot like me. We all save our most fanciful clothes for those times when we’re sitting behind tables at RT or RWA, signing our books and smiling at all and sundry. A few times a year I morph into Romance Writer, and I love doing it.
So let this be a cautionary tale for all those oh-so-superior sales ladies who are convinced that older women never get to wear cool clothes and that we might as well confine ourselves to knit pantsuits the way we’re supposed to. You never know what magic lurks within each of us. Maybe we’re actually somebody else part of the time. And maybe getting a chance to wear those wonderful things at writers conferences has emboldened us to wear our secret identities at other events as well. Maybe we sometimes break out that sequined jacket for Sunday services. Maybe that hand-painted ruana will be perfect for our niece’s commencement ceremonies. And maybe that purple velvet cape will see service at next year’s Christmas party.
You never know.
So let us buy what we want, and save the stink eye. You really never know—someday you too may be looking at those knee-high suede boots and thinking, “Yeah, I could do that at Authors After Dark. No problem.”
That is, of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a secret identity of your own. And this being the holiday season, in which rancor is out of place, I’ll wish that for you. May we all have secret identities we get to dress up for. At least once or twice a year.