Thursday, September 22, 2011

A little trick to look composed.

I remember when I was barely a teenager and my mom signed me up for Junior Cotillion. My saintly mother gifted me with a new dress for almost every event. I think one was even made of puffy tulle. Of course, the other girl's dresses were always more sumptuous than mine, but you'll need to know I was a middle-class girl playing in an upper-class world. Plus, the elbow-length gloves we were required to wear made me feel as fancy as Audrey Hepburn.

The evenings began with etiquette lessons and were followed with formal ballroom dances. In between the lesson and the dance, all of the girls would go to the bathroom in a cluster to check their lip gloss. I was always trailing behind them thinking, "Yeah, gosh. I really need to check my chapstick." (And I may or may not have been wondering: "Um, what's lip gloss...?")

In our etiquette lessons, we learned how to properly cut a steak, how to be courteous on the telephone, and how to be the perfect host or hostess. When the time came to dance, after etiquette and lip gloss checks, we had to walk to the center of the ballroom with an object on our head.

The purpose of this exercise was to practice our balance and posture. However, I was usually thinking: “Holy crap, I don't want to dance with anyone because LAST TIME MY PARTNER DIDN’T LEAVE ROOM FOR JESUS!!” Despite the hysterics racing through my mind, I always made it to the center of the room with the object still resting on the middle of my crown.

This past weekend I was in the grocery store with my mom and M. I had picked out a few miniature pumpkins and gourds to decorate with, and – just to see - I placed one on top of my head and began walking. The pumpkin never fell.

It made me think of the time when one of my best friends, ADP, admitted that before she knew me, she thought I was a complete snob. “Why?!,” I remember exclaiming. (Didn’t she know I wasn’t a lip gloss girl?!) “Because you’ve always had such great posture; you walked around school with such poise.”

If you’re ever nervous walking into a big event or large gathering, throw your shoulders back, smile, and pretend a miniature pumpkin is on your head.

(If you’re 13 and you’re reading this (uh, kudos?), thank your mother for the Junior Cotillion lessons and know that eventually your chin will stop breaking out/making you look like a pizza face.)


  1. This post is lovely. I desperately need to work on my posture - I have a bad spine and I'm always hunched and slightly awkward. I've never tried the balancing act. Might attempt it in the privacy of my home :)

  2. Thank you!

    Sometimes I catch myself slumping over my computer, but I think nothing of it. Then I catch myself slumping in a restaurant and I hear my Cotillion instructor shouting "Backs straight!"...and that was ten years ago.

    You should totally attempt the balancing act - you'll get the hang of it quickly! And in the privacy of your own home? What! Are you sure you don't want to do it in front of forty pairs of judgmental pre-teen eyes? :)