Last Saturday night, Karl and I attended the annual Black Tie Dinner in Dallas, the largest fundraising dinner held in the nation benefiting the LGBT community. But his experience of it was a little different than mine.
We’ve done about 30 of these dinners over the years, plus other occasional “formal-ish” events. So you will understand that I can and do “repurpose” an evening outfit. It’s my way of recycling. This year, I was thinking of pulling out a particular white jacket (not summer white, of course) that’s been hanging in the closet patiently since 2007 waiting for another date. But when Saturday rolled around and I brought it out, it was just too heavy to wear. So, I decided on a black evening coat that had managed three outings in a single year back in 2010—just not all in Dallas. With a single brooch throat button, it is worn open with a black shell. Comfortable and cool. But what to do about the pants? There was no way I could manage black velvet evening pants when the temperature hadn’t gotten below room temperature in Dallas this fall, so the silvery grey silk pajama pants that went with the jacket for Black Tie Dinner 1999 got pressed into service. The silk pumps that went with those pants were stained and discarded years ago, so I had to decide on a different pair—ultimately choosing a pair of black sparkly ankle straps over the patent leather pumps. The button brooch on the jacket would be the only jewelry, other than choosing a bracelet. Pick a black evening bag, and we’re done. All decisions made—except to tell Karl he’s wearing a black dinner jacket, not white.
Now you may only count six or seven decisions. You’d count again if you knew how many times I thought “not THAT” when making those decisions. And I didn’t even talk to you about hair and makeup, did I? You add those decisions into the mix, and we’re getting into three figures worth of stressful, difficult decisions. (This is where you may cluck your tongue and think “How first world…”)
Karl has only three decisions to make to get ready for the dinner. Cummerbund or vest? Which one? Which stud set? That’s it.
And what about having something to eat before? Something heavy enough to lay a foundation (you know what I mean), but light enough so that one isn’t “puffy.” Karl had a double meat Whataburger with fries, I had two pieces of buttered toast, and he didn’t wear Spanx. You’re right, Vera, it is a depressingly masculine world we live in.
So, we arrive at the dinner. The strain is over. No more choices, no more decisions. With a reception, a pre-party, silent auction, dinner, post-party—all within stumbling distance of each other—I can relax and enjoy the evening. Just a quick trip to the powder room before going into dinner.
I know where to go—the dinner has been held in the same hotel for years. But in big letters over what used to be ladies on the left and gentlemen on the right was a big “ALL GENDER BATHROOMS” sign. And, suddenly, I’m faced with decision number 121 of the evening. Birds of a feather were not flocking together. Folks in tuxedoes (some wearing heels) and folks in ball gowns (some really tall without heels) were going into the same bathroom. I wasn’t wearing a tuxedo or a ballgown. Or heels, for that matter. What to do?
I went right. The line was shorter.