Happy Day for Moms
Radiation Level: Faded Yellow
Listening To: Mamma Says by Lenny Kravitz
LalaGirl is friends with the mother of a famous young actress. The actress is pretty and talented like most famous young actresses. I’ve met her once and she seemed down to earth, no strange affect or attitude. But perhaps that full-bodied confidence, that sense of entitlement that I always longed for. So when LalaGirl texted me to see if I would repair a dress for her, I had mixed emotions.
Back in the day when I was an actress, I had an extremely competitive mindset. This is de rigueur in Hollywood, because of the town’s cutthroat nature. There’s always someone prettier, more talented and skinnier than you. All my best girlfriends were actresses and as much as I loved them, that love was often tempered by my jealousy and a drive to be better than them. In my teens and 20’s, I lacked the maturity and ability to celebrate their success and still be confident in myself. When I stopped acting, my relationships with women got a million times deeper and my life became better by the very fact that I had such great friendships. So why were my feathers ruffling over fixing a damn dress?
If it was for a friend, it would have been a no brainer. But here I was, to sit down for several hours, possibly shed some blood from a needle prick, strain and squint my eyes for this actress who had no idea what it’s like to fail at the thing you wanted most in life. Then I thought, I’m being petty and small and hell, maybe one day she’ll read a script of mine. So I did it.
The vintage 1950’s dress was a pale yellow. Inside the dress was the handwritten word “Sony”, indicating that at some point in time this dress belonged to their costume department. Upon first viewing, I thought the spotted fabric was white and had turned yellow over the years, but when I took it to ISW in Hollywood, the helpful sales lady said it was actually yellow. She helped me find the right bobbinet to replace the old, decaying stuff.
Of course the only bobbinet they had was white, so I would have to figure out how to match it. At home, I experimented with a yellow marker then making a dye from mustard. I soaked the bobbinet in mustard and water and was able to match the dress perfectly. I let it dry overnight. The next day, I sat repairing the holes and tears in the dress by hand. It was a long, slow process and to my surprise, I had no feelings of jealousy or resentment for this young woman. Instead, I imagined her in the dress going to parties, walking red carpets, getting kissed by boys. Could these feelings be…maternal? I don’t have children, but I imagined this must be how it feels when you do. That spending your time sewing for your daughter would feel pleasant. Happy. Wistful. An act of nurture.
Next I replaced the old, tattered straps on the dress by purchasing a black bra, snipping off the adjustable straps then transferring them to the dress. Voila. The dress was finished. I was actually a little sad to give it back. Somehow, the hours I spent mending a party dress for the girl with a thousand parties ahead of her, were satisfying in a way that was previously unknown to me.