Friday, October 3, 2008

Of tissues and hankies (July 29, 2007)

I am finishing a vicious headcold, which is never very fun, but even less so when you are pregnant, especially in the weekend when you can't reach a doctor. Routinely pharmacist just tell you that they can't give you something or recommend something. "some doctors allow... but others aren't so I can't really give you something." The only thing they can recommend is saline, which might help some, but for me is about as useful as advising me to jump up and down while whistling a nursery rhyme.
Anyhow, there was in this case nothing to do but to suffer through it and I am doing quite a lot better by now. This morning I did give up on sleep at 6 am, but was slowly feeling well enough to go to church. At first I was rather proud of actually deciding to go but to my utter surprise (something about blogging about elegance must have touched me deep within) I refused to look and behave like the wreck that had dragged herself out of bed at 6 am and was hanging on the couch like something that the cat dragged in.
It was tempting though, to just drag whatever crinkle fabric summer pregnancy dress (more suited for the beach or gardening than church) out of the closet and be glad that I am going at all. But I kept remembering my post of a few weeks ago about preserving elegance. Perhaps the book I have just been reading also had an influence....

Simple Social Graces: Recapturing the Lost Art of Gracious Victorian Living
While I don't agree with all of the reasoning within this book, it did have some passages that made me think. One thought it reinforced on me was the fact that we influence our own behaviour and the behaviour of people around us by the way we dress as well as how we behave. It reminds me of something that we were told at university in a semiotics class: "Each morning, when you dress yourself, you encode a message for everyone to read."
What a message was I going to send? My vanity would not let it be: "half wilted woman who dragged herself out of her bed somehow." So, still sniffing and sneezing, I put myself in a nice outfit, with a red top and a long white skirt and white ballerina flats (thank you again, Julie!). After that, I even put make up on. The difference that that made was so big that even my husband, who probably would say I looked nice when wearing a potato sack, spontaneously mentioned how much better I looked afterwards.
Now... it was time for the finishing touches and accessories. No, I am not talking about a special purse or even my headcover... One important 'accessory' to get through church service this morning would be something to ehm... wipe my nose with. A dissolving headcold leads of course to lots of sniffing, sneezing and blowing your nose. Not a delicate or elegant subject, I admit, but everyone probably has been forced once or twice to leave the house toting a box of kleenex or something similar and leaving the crumpled remains in purses or jacket pockets.
By putting myself together (clothes, make up, hair) I had made myself feel well enough to even think about this last little problem. While we are at home, laying on the couch, we might reach for the big box of tissues, but for going out of the door, if we want to preserve elegance, we look for something else. My first option was a gift from a friend from last christmas: small packages of tissues with a sweet design, in this case cute hedgehogs. These tissue packages are a weakness for me, and when I find them cheap, I stock up.
This company specialises in those wonderful little packages. I admit... a dollar and a half for ten tissues is not too cheap, but they are a little luxury that I give myself now and again. They're firm, you don't blow through them, and above all, they make you feel exquisitely feminine when you slip them into your bag, especially on a moment when you can really use a little boost.
The tissues were only a back up though, in case I had to use my first option too much: in my purse, I slipped an elegant white cotton and lace handkerchief. I know that few people use 'hankies' anymore, because they are afraid of germs. That might be a valid concern if you keep toting the same crumpled item for days on end, but for a short outing, there is nothing better than grandma's pretty hanky. In the last few years I have embroidered quite a few for friends and family, and whether they use them just as a pocket ornament or a little boost when you have a cold, they always turn back up, freshly washed, ironed, and ready for more use. An other alternative that I want to buy or make is one of these wonderful pocket tissue holders, made out of lace, crazy quilt or callico. That way, you can have your cake and eat it, by buying cheap white tissues and still have that pretty outlook.
I doubt anyone in church noticed my hanky or my tissues today. I hope they didn't, because that was not my intention, but I FELT more elegant, more female and pretty, and actually better because of that. So... next time you can splurge a bit, consider buying one of those fancy little packages of tissues or perhaps find a few nice, white handkerchiefs to keep ironed in the closet for days like today, when you just need that tiny little boost to make you feel like a woman.

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