Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Masquerade Ball

Something there is that doesn't love a...ball. Especially a masquerade ball, where concealing your identity, or at least pretending to, is the objective. But there are ironies involved.

At the fundraiser we attended a week ago, couples and singles filed into the room in festive masks, spiffy cocktail dresses and black suits, dinner jackets, and elegant costumes. A court jester, Marie Antoinette, Spanish ladies, Phantoms of the Opera. We came as polished versions of ourselves, the perfectly coiffed, manicured, the camera-ready people we aspire to be. Why then--of all times--did we want to deny who we were?

A mask would be more appropriate, perhaps, when I dash to Safeway in the early morning, de-coiffed, wearing yesterday's yoga pants and sneakers. Or when the UPS man wakes me from a sound afternoon nap. Or the time I inquired about a husband only to learn that he had left her for another man.

At the post office, a long line waiting behind me, I fumble to pay for a stack of wrapped packages, a sheet of stamps, and two tracking slips. As time stands still I realize that my debit card is in my billfold. It's at home, apparently orphaned by a purse exchange. Or when my dog chooses to relieve herself in the crosswalk of four lanes of 19th Avenue traffic. The light counts down--eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, as cars pause and I scoop. This is when a disguise would come in handy.

There have been stretches of my life when I lived with a bag over my head. Times that I felt depressed, isolated, misplaced, alone. Perhaps on those long days a feathered and sparkling mask would have transported me and created within me a fresh sense of self, a point at which to launch a new, improved, more confident version of who I with streamers, glitter, and just a hint of black lace.