Monday, March 28, 2011

The art of the care package.

You know how some kids are just cool, even when they're, like, 10?

This usually has something to do with athleticism, or clothes, or some kind of natural charisma.  In my old money San Antonio community, it also had to do with what family you came from, and what traditions you participated in.  My family and I were A) not natives, B) not wealthy, and C) not traditional.  Evidenced by several things, but most notably our lack of church-going, our kitchen cabinets onto which Mom had painted cow spots, and our annual Christmas cards that occasionally required my father to cross-dress.

"Are you in the coronation?" a friend asked me once in the third grade.  I had no idea what she was talking about.

"Because my older sister is a duchess," she boasted.    

"Duchess of Dreams?" she said with an exasperated sigh, registering the confusion on my face.

"She rides on a float?  During the BATTLE OF FLOWERS PARADE?"

I looked at her blankly.   It was like she was speaking a foreign language.

Clearly wasting her time on someone not bred to know about The Battle of Flowers, or how very momentous her sister's duchess appointment was, she turned tail on her Cole Haan loafers and angrily stomped off.

This was pretty much the story of my life from first through fifth grade.

But then in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, something magical happened.

I went to summer camp.  And I was the coolest one there.

It all started with my mom, closet exhibitionist that she is.  She was going through a wig-collecting phase at the time, and insisted I pack three in my trunk.

"Because you never know!" she said brightly.

Holding a clump of synthetic Tina Turner hair in my hand, I felt extremely skeptical. 

But as soon as I started unpacking my things, tentatively laying a wig onto my bunk bed mattress, I heard a high shriek of excitement.

"OH MY LORD!" screamed my bunk mate.  "That's like SOOOOO awesome.  Where did it come from??"

Mom wouldn't let me down during the rest of camp, either.  She sent the most epic care packages, packages for sharing.  Her favorite thing to mail was a batch of "Buffalo Chip" cookies, named so graphically for their size (of roughly a dinner plate) and their ingredients (containing every cookie ingredient imaginable, from macadamia nuts to raisins, because apparently this is what buffalo eat).  They were a smashing hit every time, making my bunk bed the most sought-after real estate in town.

* * *

So I appreciate a good care package, one composed with love and thought.  Recently, Paloma Botanical Beauty Parlor sent me a post-SXSW care package, and I have to say, I was absolutely tickled.

Isn't this a tiny, pretty box?  I gave it to my friend Kathryn, whose daughter is named Lucia.

The package came with several large glossy photographs.  Left: Owners Evette Richards and Levi Dugat, husband and wife.  Right and below: The parlor.

Is this a miniature pope?  Dressed in a ball gown?  I love him!

I loved the styling in this photograph.  In fact I decided to bust out a feather earring of my own and wear it out of the house.

My feather and I went to Starbucks that morning and no one knew what was going on. "Is that a...?" the woman in front of me said.  "Feather?" I suggested, but it was too late.  She had already turned back around to the safe, normal world of non-footlong-feather-wearing Starbucks baristas.  Away from this dangerous rebel.

Paloma, thank you for my care package!  I will be coming in soon.  Do you have a blowtorch?  That may be what my over-processed hair needs at this point.  I'll let you be the judge.


Pam/Digging said...

The cross-dressing pope is actually a whirling dervish, I believe.

Tolly, I followed your trail of links back to your cross-dressing family Xmas card and just loved it. I can see where you got your sense of fun and style!

kitten roar said...

oh dear, i am so jealous of this package. i LOVE lucia soaps. i was obsessed with their laurel leaf & olive oil soap for the longest time. it smelled SO good.

Nicole Mlakar-Livingston said...

YAY!!! Thank you so much Tolly for writing about Paloma and saying such amazing things. Levi is actually my BFF from 7th grade and he totally WAS/IS one of those kids (in fact his whole damn family) that was cooler and more creative than anyone around. Anyway, I'm so glad you loved and appreciated everything Levi and Evette did with the care packages. They put great time and attention into all that they do as evidenced by their amazing salon. I actually shot the images for their style book and all the images of Paloma's interior. They styled everything so beautifully. Really happy you like it. Definitely go see them. They are beyond amazing and very special.

jessica said...

I miss care packages. I'm a sucker for pretty font, paper, and pictures. Looks like Paloma has all those things! I love your camp story :) I want to hear more!

Jennifer said...

Three different friends have gotten cuts/colors from Paloma recently, and they all look so wonderful! Can't wait to see your results (Ps you know I love Fiesta fashion, I think it's almost that time of year when old money posts sparkle dress photos on facebook!)

bsimms8907 said...

I was going to tell you that the pope was actually a Whirling Dirvish, but Pat beat me to the punch.

Here's a video of them:

I only know that because it was a video bonus question on an episode of Cash Cab! Man I love that show it has filled me with so much useful/useless knowledge! Let's get coffee again sometime soon I'd love to see you again, but I am super excited for the show on Sunday!

Dad said...

You should patent that smile and sell it to the world.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Pam -- HI PAM! I have been secretly stalking "Digging," getting inspiration for our future garden ... we are buying a house and moving at the end of this month. :) Exciting! Anyway, a "whirling dervish" you say? Catholics have the best outfits. They really do.

I'm glad you liked Daddy dressed up as Carmen Miranda. ;) It's a little embarrassing that he has the best legs in the family.

@Kitten Roar -- I was so, so touched to get this care package. The owners even invited me to come in for a couple of on-the-house treatments!! Seriously, small business owners, if you are reading: This is the way to court bloggers. I'm completely sold on Paloma.

@Nicole -- You are so welcome. What cool friends you have! I loved Levi's design touch on this care package, too -- I'm convinced that he and Evette are basically the hippest couple ever.

@Jessica -- Haha, I'm glad you liked it. :) I've got so many stories from camp, but probably even better ones of elementary school. I was just a dork through-and-through, mostly bc I couldn't figure out the "rules" of being popular! I finally gained some self-confidence in high school though, when I was voted "Most Changed." I'm not sure if it was a compliment or not?

@Jennifer -- YAY, I'm glad to hear it, bc I'm about to book myself an appointment!! I usually go to Wild Orchid Salon, but they offered a few freebie services for me. Which I am totally taking advantage of.

And, OMG. We have to gawk at the Fiesta Fashions together. So delightfully ridiculous!!! Alamo Heights people, I love you. I do. It's just that I can't help giggling at those ginormous gown trains.

@BSimms -- I love that it's called a "whirling dervish." What a name for vestry clothing!

Eeek, I'm so excited about Sunday too!! Ross and I are broke as a joke around here with the house-buying stuff this month, so, that's my one little treat. I heart Scissor Sisters.

@Dad -- Thank you Daddy! :) I don't deserve you.

Pam/Digging said...

Hey, Tolly, congrats on the house purchase and have fun making a garden! BTW, the whirling dervishes are really cool to watch; look 'em up online for a video. They aren't Catholic at all but Turkish mystics practicing Sufism...I think.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Pam -- Whoa, really? (Isn't it sad that I was almost a religion major and don't know this?) That is so cool. Going to go watch Brittney's (@BSimms) video.

We are so excited about the new garden!! And making our home more planty in general. A couple of friends of mine have moved around several times, and every place they've lived, there are luscious ferns everywhere ... it's extraordinary. So I'm going to get it right with this house, and have more living things around.