Myrna Loy Primping for William Powell

white-shoulders-cologneLately, I’ve been very annoyed with my perfume bottle.

Not the perfume, mind you. I’ve worn the same perfume since I was 10 – White Shoulders. I love it. I have always loved it and, recently, I learned it was the first perfume my dad ever gave his mom. He was about the age I was when he saved his money to buy it for her.  It was given to me by my great aunt and except for a brief flirtation with some heavily advertised brands in the early 70s, it’s the only perfume I’ve ever worn.

It’s a delicate scent that mixes well with my body chemistry. While it’s an affordable perfume, it’s not cheap. Someone generally gets me a bottle every other Christmas which works out well because that’s about how long it takes me to go through a bottle.

perfume bottleThe last bottle was not a spray bottle. I just opened a new one and it’s been aggravating me – trying to pour out just enough and then splashing it around like after shave. It’s a barbaric way to handle a delicate scent.

I’m on the “one for them, one for me” Christmas gift shopping plan. On a recent online foray, I ran across perfume bottles with those old-fashioned rubber squeeze bulbs. Oh my.

Now we know how I feel about my dressing table. And we know how I feel about the elegance of times past.

So how could I not buy it? Honestly.

It arrived today and it’s just wonderful. I feel like Myrna Loy primping for William Powell.

I was born a poor black child.

First Day of School

First Day of School

Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s birthday is coming up and it’s weighing heavily on my mind since I won’t get to see him. I feel entitled to tell a cute kid story.

The Boy had his first best friend during kindergarten. It was kind of karmic that his best friend was the nephew of my old high school best friend. Anyway. This little kid was nearly as cute as mine and together they were a rowdy bunch of joy. At the end of each school day all I heard was Michael this and Michael that punctuated by peals of giggles.

One day when I picked The Boy up, he slung the car door open, threw his backpack and slumped in the seat. After peering at him for a bit as he crossed his arms and batted tears away, I asked him what was wrong.

We had a fight. He’s a big dummy and we’re not friends any more.

Oh my. What happened?

And the story unfolded.

This is how I understood it, but I could be wrong. There were a lot of sobs between details.

Cherokee Boy

Teepee Boy

He and Michael were teeter-tottering or jungle-gyming or something along those lines when Michael made a disparaging comment about black people. Incensed, Chef Boy ‘R Mine attempted to correct Michael’s faulty intelligence. When this did no good, The Boy pointed out to Michael that we’re all born black and some of us turn lighter shades including white and some of us stay black.

Well. I can tell you I was a bit nonplussed.

So I asked for his references on that point of fact. Turns out, it was his baby book.

Chef Boy ‘R Mine was significantly premature. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), there was a ton of electronic equipment as well as numerous footcandles of fluorescent lighting. I had an electronic flash on my SLR camera that kept malfunctioning, I think, because of all the equipment. My solution to the problem was to take multiple pictures at multiple aperture settings and hope for the best. It turns out that didn’t really do any good. None of the pictures depicts Child of Mine the way he looked. He was a dusky red with touches of jaundice typical of preemies.



His first few weeks were precarious and I couldn’t part with any of the photos. I took hundreds in those first few days and all of them awful. They’re duly assembled in a photo album along with the rest of Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s first year of life. He loved to look at that photo album. As soon as he was big enough to hold it by himself, he would get it, crawl on the couch, and slowly turn the pages – asking questions about when he was a baby. It was sweet.

Turns out, he thought he was born black. His dusky red came out a cocoa color in the photos. I didn’t really see that aspect – I saw my miracle baby still breathing. I knew the color in all the photos was off, but I never made the connection.

He did. It was a logical conclusion not worthy of even asking about.

So I gently told him that of course Michael was wrong to dislike someone just because they were black, but I also told him that he was wrong about everyone being born black. Try explaining to a 5-year-old the problems of a  malfunctioning electronic flash in fluorescent lighting when trying to photograph a baby in a plexiglass isolette.

Anyway. Throughout the explanations, his and mine, I had to muffle laughter. He was so upset and so dreadfully serious. Ex of Mine, who wasn’t an ex yet, came home and I dragged him into the bedroom to tell him the story. Heartily amused, we both had to work hard to project ourselves as Sober Caring Parents.

We had another earnest conversation at the dinner table with The Boy. By the time we were done, he seemed much calmer and was able to sleep in his customary dead-to-the-world-scare-mom-to-death way.

At this stage of life, we were living in a largely unfinished barn and experiencing significant financial stress. It’s correct to describe us as poor.

Once the child was asleep, we settled into the couch and turned on the tube. Steve Martin’s classic, The Jerk, was just starting. I had forgotten the opening bit – I hadn’t seen the movie in years. We were there just in time to hear, I was born a poor black child.

The ensuing hysteria was epic. We laughed until we cried; we clung onto each as waves of laughter convulsed us. When one of us would settle down, gasping for breath, the other one would break into another set of hearty guffaws and the hysteria began again. At one time, we rolled off the sofa, sprawled on the floor and stamped our feet in laughter. Only because The Boy sleeps like a dead person did we not wake him up.

We were still laughing the next day.

And so was Chef Boy ‘R Mine since he and Michael resolved their differences and resumed best-friendship.

The Boy’s explanation of racial differences is funny, but it’s also rather adroit. We are all born the same, but its life’s experiences that make us different. We’re a multitude of colors and that shouldn’t have a bearing on our lives, but it does. I like my boy’s attitude about it all. He didn’t think he was luckier for having been born, more or less, “white” – he thought no more of it than he did of the fact that he’d been born bald and now he had hair. It was just something that happened like his having brown eyes when Mom and Dad’s were green and blue, respectively.

Amusement Park Birthday

Amusement Park Birthday

Damn, he was a cute kid – that little white boy who was born a poor black child. I miss him and it looks like I won’t see him on his birthday this year. I’ve only missed one other and I wasn’t happy about that either.

His birth was far and away the best day of my life.  Hands down.  He won’t be here, but I’ll celebrate anyway.

Damn he was cute. I miss him. Oh, wait. I already said that.

I miss him.

Peignoir and Negligee Marketing Opportunity

This might do.

This might do.

There’s a neglected market out there.

I get a lot of hits involving the search terms peignoir and negligee. Even in this economic climate, women (presumably) want frou frou nightwear.

Those poor lost souls wandering the Internet in search of white peignoir lace and negligee blue sleeves must be really desperate if they’re clicking on something called W. Va. Fur and Root to find it.

Having done the desperation thing in search of the Beloved Bathrobe (the post that is confoozling people’s search engine), I’ve spent some time looking for a peignoir. By no means ratcheted up to desperation status, I would like one. Perhaps those lost searchers sense my sympathetic spirit. Or not. I wish they’d leave a comment. Even a where the hell’s the “black negligee halter”? would tickle me.

We could start a club or a petition.

There really is a dearth of over-the-top-Hollywood-in-chiffon nightwear. If I were an obliging blogger, I would post the links to some vintage clothing sites I’ve found where they might have some luck. It’s probably cruel to post this as it’s just going to entice the poor dears all over again.

Maybe an open thread? Women Who Want Peignoirs and the Men Who Love Them. Naw. I can see that getting out of control soon.

Speaking of which, I did have one search – white control panel negligee – that bothered me. My ideal waft-around-the-house-inappropriately-elegant-40s-glam nightwear couldn’t wouldn’t mustn’t involve control anything.

Any entrepreneurs out there take notes. Most of those searching want white, but blue runs a close second. Black shows up now and again. I’m dithering between white and black, but sometimes think a dark red could be the one. No marabou, fringe, smocking, embroidery (unless a very tasteful fleur de lis or similar motif), no ribbon rosebuds and certainly nothing that involves a matching garter belt. One does not wear a garter belt with a peignoir. That’s just gauche. I want the gown in a silk charmeuse and the robe in something transparent and floaty with minimal ruffles. It goes without saying that I want the damn thing long enough. Hell, I want a train on that robe. (No ermine.)

Toilette de Visite

Carole Landis 1943

Carole Landis 1943

Growing up, I watched an awful lot of movies with women wafting about in peignoirs and other impractical loungewear. I’m particularly fond of some of the nonsense Nora (Myrna Loy) wears in the Thin Man series of movies. (These movies are national treasures.)

I had a peignoir once – for less than 24 hours.


The first year my dad was in Vietnam, my mother pulled out all the stops for Christmas.  As a precocious 7 year-old, I received a frilly, silky, filmy nightgown and matching robe (peignoir) in lavender and purple.  Opening the gift, my jaw dropped at the visual of the fabric nestled amongst tissue paper.  Adding even more wonder and decadence was a small bottle of Evening in Paris eau de toilette – a gorgeous royal blue and gold punch to the white, lavender and purple.


Is it any wonder I’m a diva?

  Continue reading