A month ago, I received an invitation to an ’80s theme party.
“Come as your favorite ’80s icon—or come as you were.”
I chose the latter.
Who was I back in the Reagan era?
Let me borrow a line from The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me, Baby”: “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar/that much is true.”
Actually, I was a hostess at the Chart House, the quaint Victorian that once was a mortuary and is now home to . Back then, “The Chart” was the hottest place for teenagers to work.
As you can imagine, I was eager to sip, once again, from the fountain of my youth.
First, I had to find a sexy Aloha dress. I spotted one on the sidewalk sale rack at . The strapless frock was turquoise, printed with palm trees and waves. Perfect. A score for $24.
Next, I needed an artifact to carry around the party. As any Chart House aficionado knows, the menus were printed on heavy wooden paddles, and my friend Jeff, who collects the surf-and-turf chain's memorabilia, was nice enough to hook me up. His sister-in-law, Cindy, even loaned me her vintage apron, miraculously unstained after all these years.
To complete the look, I needed a tan, a savage Hawaiian Tropic tan, the kind we got back in the day when sunscreen was but a wink in some scientist's eye. Only, thanks to my , I’d avoided the sun all summer. On the MAC foundation color chart, my skin tone hovered between ‘Wonderbread” and “Marshmallow Fluff in a Can.”
Thank goodness for Exotica Tan above . When I showed up for my appointment, owner Kim Hiatt asked me to strip down and step into the booth.
Over the phone, “The Vegas Special” sounded perfect, but as I extended my arms and assumed scarecrow position, I got cold feet. And no, it wasn’t because I was getting blasted with chilly, imitation UVA rays. Truth is, I didn’t want to look like an Oompa Loompa. Let’s face it, us girls like to feel cute at parties. True to her word, though, Kim worked wonders with her magic bronzer wand, and it actually felt good to have a little color.
Soon the big night arrived. I slipped into my dress and grabbed my paddle. My costume was stellar, yet something was missing.
So I zipped down the street to . “Hi,” I said to the young woman behind the counter. “I need some faux blisters—peeling, oozing, reddish-pink third-degree sunburn blisters.”
It was my lucky day. The clerk, Katherine, was a professional theatrical makeup artist. After she sold me a bottle of liquid latex, Katherine mentioned that she was about to get off, and did I want her to pop over?
Did I ever. “Yes, please!” I replied brightly.
I walked back home giddily. Like a movie star before the Academy Awards, I had a personal makeup artist who was about to make a house call.
Katherine didn’t give me Beyonce’s smoky eyes or Gwyneth’s perfect pout, but she expertly blistered up my nose and cheeks. My skin flaked off in sheets, just like the old days when I fried my face with Baby Oil.
I threw on some tacky, turquoise jewelry, tucked my wine opener into my apron, and headed to the party in search of a Long Island Ice Tea.
Ahh, to be young again.
If you want to read more about the ‘80s rager, check out Kim Ratcliff and Chigiy Binell’s blog Laughing at the Ground.com