A Letter to Vacationers in the South

An open letter to my northern friends who visit Florida in summer.

First of all, as I keep telling you, I’m not rich. I spend less than $700 a year on clothes, shoes and makeup for myself. I don’t have the luxury to have different wardrobes for each season. I have to be strategic. Right now, it’s in the 80s and I’m wearing a skirt – ok, a skort. On top, a long sleeve featherweight pj-like, almost see through light gray shirt with a longer olive, body fitting (no, not tight) shirt over it.

I look good.Why? I have a strategy.

Hello. I see you.

I see that you bought some cute clothes for your vacation, and yes, I think you seriously believed you would lose those 5 pounds before vacation, but things come up. I know.

Here’s the thing.

Not only are those clothes a little too tight, they are also way too formal for Florida in summer.

I am not an authority on many things, but I have spent most of my life in the South.

Yes, there were 2 freakish years of exile in Boulder, but I’ve recovered from the culture shock. My time there would’ve been so much easier if someone had helped acculturate me.

Because I know what it feels like to look like you don’t belong, to look uncomfortable, and all that good stuff, I’m taking time out of my super-hip vacation to shoot a list to you.

Makeup melts in the heat.

1) Please, please, ditch the foundation. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go bald-faced. You might be in the background of my picture, and forever I’ll be looking at you, wondering why you’re so splotchy. Here’s what you do. First, wear moisturizer with SPF. Yes, moisturizer. Your skin will get dry in the heat, and every single crack will show. Of course you won’t be standing in front of the mirror so it technically isn’t your problem. But you’re reading this because you care, so please do it!

2) Take your concealer – and if you don’t have concealer, buy some or stop reading here, because every civilized woman has concealer – and use it strategically. Dab dab here and there, cover the red spots at the bottom of your nose that everyone has, cover the blue-purple darkness that everyone has where their nose and eye meet. Then dab a bit on any other yucky spots. Cover it all with the lightest dusting of pressed powered (and if you don’t have that, buy some like yesterday) and you’ve got melt-proof foundation.

3) Go easy on the blush. If it’s dark enough to wear during the evening, it’s way to dark to wear in the middle of the day in the florida sun. Try a bronzer or a sunny shade of blush on the apples of your cheeks. The middle of the day is NOT the time to carve out cheekbones with your contour brush. It will look awful, and no one will tell you.

4) Summerize your lipstick. I’m a big fan of lipliner and a bit of shimmer gloss. Nudes, pinks, berries. Beware of corals – unless you are 100% sure you have the coloring to pull it off, you might just have a garish red-orange smile. Aim for sheer, glossy, light. But please, do wear lipstick. Something awful happens to a face when the lips look all dry and shrively, They aren’t kissable, they don’t look young and friendly, and you might ruin my pictures.

5) Give some serious thought to your eye makeup. When I watched Lake House with Sandra Bullock, I truly admired the job her makeup artist did framing her brown-black eyes in a smokey mahogany liner. In real life, regular women who try this often just end up looking crazy. A great summer daytime look is a nude sheer wash across the eye, then little shimmer in a darker color in the crease and as liner. Please please if you’re over the age 30, try to avoid dark, bright, and/or harsh colors during the day. No aqua liner, no purple smears. These evoke images of a woman drinking too many mimosas before showering and trying to pull herself together.

OK. Let’s be honest about your clothes.
1) Tight is bad. It makes you sweat in places that… well, sweating is not desirable. Really tight and white is worse. Even if you are ridiculously rich, tanned and hardbodied.

Now, really tall and lean women can pull this off, but it helps if they’re Paris Hilton. If you absolutely must wear white pants, go for some swoosh factor, some sort of lightness to them.

I personally haven’t owned white pants since middle school. And, for the record, they were tight and I word them with rainbow suspenders. So, if you want to be like I was, go right ahead.

2) A bathing suit is not a bra. If you’re over 30 and have had kids, you probably need a decent bra. OK, most of you don’t know what a bra should do. It’s simple. Your nipple should line up exactly at the midpoint between your armpit and elbow.

Unless you’re on your second set of boobs (and, hey, when I sell my book I’m buying new boobs before any other luxury purchase) you probably need a bit of a boost to get the nipples to where God herself intended them to be. Most bathing suits allow a little droopage, and in return, reward you with some great cleavage. This is all lost when you toss a t-shirt over it. The result is… well, dumpy.

Low boobs add pounds, and every freaking picture you take will make you hate yourself. I warned you, so don’t hate me, too.

3) Feet need to breathe. If you’re on vacation, plan to show some toe. But not in heels. High heels plus open toes, during the daytime, equals hooker or stripper. Not what you’re aiming for, huh?

4) How are your arms?

Have your arm muscles disappeared? Do you have arms so white that they look blue? Have you forsaken shaving for the last few months? Do you have acne on the backs of your arms?

If you can answer yes to ANY of these questions, please please please don’t wear a tank top.

We southern belles who find ourselves in this (temporary, right?) situation wear longer sleeves in lighter fabrics. Still look super cute, but you don’t’ reveal anything, well, ugly.

And yes, flabby white acne-full upper arms are an appetite suppressant.

So if you see me taking your picture, it’s only because I’m out of Trimspa and I don’t get paid again until the end of the month.

How is your hair?

Did you spend an hour blowdrying your hair during the humid Florida summer? Wow. What a waste. Summer hair is happy hair. Easy hair. If it took an hour, it isn’t happy, it wasn’t easy, and you’re probably sweaty and annoyed at the people who screamed at you to hurry up.

No one is having fun and you look bad.

Now, put on something light and comfy, smile, and be happy.

You're in Florida!

Once Upon a Time... ( From June 2006)

Once upon a time, a kindly professor named Melissa hopped a plane (by herself, of course) to South Florida for a four-day whirlwind tour of relatives, former colleagues, and other assorted odds and ends.

I amexcruciatingly aware that several people are sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what I will write about them.

Or if I will spare them. Please!

Let's just skip Stuart. He is perfect.

If he weren't a high-powered attorney (power being measured by the type of BMW he drives and the quality of the earpiece he wears while driving it....) he would make an amazing physician. Enough said?

Then the triumverate of Lory, Anne and Jene, the three of whom look like a poster of "after" pictures for Gold's Gym. Brilliant, successful, hardbodied women who are stuck in perpetual great hair days.

My lowpoint of the wonderful evening seven of us spent together was Lory's proclaiming "I've never weighed more than 110 pounds."

It was *HER* night, so I didn't give her a swift kick.

Honestly, the woman doesn't have a smug bone in her, so she didn't deserve a kick.

Maybe a pinch.

Or a good-natured shove.

Into a pool.

Oh, Jene? Hello? Next time I order a CD, I'd like it on a CD.

Not a zip drive.

Not on notebook paper, not on a floppy disk from the 90s.

But honestly, I didn't mean to leave it at Anne's house.

So, um, burn it to a CD (there isn't a lot of room for negotiating here) or email me the playlist and I'll visit my special music place that I know better than to list here.

Anne. Anne. When I grow up, I still want to be you.

With less kids. But I'll take everything else.

And, Nancy? Is the Lucy-shower still on? Because I'm free to come down and draw obscene pictures again. But this time, I'll be adding breasts. Have you registered anywhere, yet??

Martin. You have not been given clearance to date.

You are supposed to be working 90 hour weeks, then going home. Alone. To think about how you are too busy for women. There is no woman good enough for you. None worthy of your charm, intelligence or wit. So you're going to be alone for a long time. That's an order.

Then there's Melissa, the other Melissa. Not me. I'm not making this up. I have a friend Melissa, a successful atty who -- like Stuart -- drives a BMW and can kick your ass if she has to.

I am totally indebted to Melissa for letting me slip by with something.
She knows what I mean. I owe her one.

My Dad. I spent a bit of time on my mini-vacation at home, staring into space, listening to dad talk to customers.

They don't just call about hibiscus.

They call to flirt, to tell him how beautiful his flowers are... and how big they are... and how interesting his accent is... oh my G*** it's almost nauseating how people love to compliment my dad and shower him with money. It's a good life.

Mom is doing well. I spare her my blogging. She and Abuela are sacrosanct.

So, back to life.

Except for an email I'm about to answer in another blog.