Nerd in Transition: Red Dress Impress
Though NiT goes back beyond my retirement from roller derby it often feels like I didn’t actually begin the process of change until the Monday after the Tough Cookies Saturday night championship win. It was when I woke up sore and hungover with Monday morning coming down that I realized I actually had to move on from the life I had created for myself in LA. That was last December, it’s now September and in the past 10 months things have certainly changed, yet what has stayed the same is almost predictably boring. I say almost because at times it’s not boring, it’s upsetting. I am a dynamic person who divides people down the line between love and hate. The people that know and like me, they just LOVE me. The people that know and don’t like me, they just HATE me. Sometimes I can change those opinions, turning friends to enemies and enemies to friends.
This past weekend I was blessed with two wedding invitations to two very different ceremonies. While both of the brides are friends of mine through the organization of the Derby Dolls, their personal commitment to the Dolls and our friendship is perfectly exemplified by the big day itself.
Saturday I found myself dreading the evening wedding of Suzy Snakeyes to one Mike Snakeyes, not their Christian or Jewish names. This dread came from the nature of the event. Suzy is completely committed to the Derby Dolls, she sits on boards planning rules and regulations, helps train skaters, gets picked to work with teams she isn’t skating on, was the original captain of the Tough Cookies and just generally devotes all her non-work time to the league. She is also a popular and likable person with many friends to go along with her many commitments. The Snakeyes got married not just in the Doll Factory(home to the LA Derby Dolls) but they got married on the track. The reception followed in the vendor mall area of the Doll Factory. Other than some family the event was packed with Derby Dolls. While the guest list was limited, I still knew that I would be facing people that I hadn’t seen or talked to in months. What dealings I have had with other Dolls has been mixed between those that support me and those that have enjoy twisting the knives they left plunged in my back.
I arrived in a skin tight red dress. A bold enough move for anybody pushing a size 14, but to walk into a room of top notch athletes most of whom were my former competitors, this was a bold-faced dare. Yes I’ve been gone, yes I’ve gained weight, yes I’m losing my derby booty, but I am still beautiful and more than willing to show you. The red dress was matched with my lengthening red hair which I curled ala Christina Hendricks Emmy night. Though nervous there was a clear eyed confidence boiling inside me and moments after my arrival it erased all dread spilling out to run over my curves and take over my lightly made up face. As I mingled throughout the night, the love that was directed toward me was a staggering relief. So many people wanted to know where I’d been and what I’d been up too, even more wanted to compliment my appearance. I heard over and over that I just looked better, happier, more at peace. Earnest requests for socialization were made, leaving me to wonder why I’ve spent so many nights depressed and alone.
As the night wore on I found myself in conversations with little bombs that did shake me up a bit. One friend reminded me that I do court trouble and by not taking shit from anybody as I call them out on it I am making enemies. I informed her that I am moving away from trouble and trying to be more of a politician. I also heard that there were people whispering about my size, while they wouldn’t say it to me they said it around friends that were all too willing to remind these nay-sayers that I did stop skating and it’s to be expected. The most upsetting thing that was brought up and the one I am still wrestling with today is the rumor that I was asked to leave the Jr. Dolls. Not only did I leave on my own volition, but I was asked even begged to stay by my superiors. The door for my return is still wide open. While I enjoy facing nay-sayers and succeeding where they would not have me, the Jr. Dolls is not the challenge I need to take on at this time. Going to the wedding with grace and confidence was enough of a win for me.
Sunday I found myself at Gritty-in-Pink’s wedding to Charlie Fonville, not her Jewish name either, this was a much more exquisite affair. The venue was intimate and loaded with friends and family that I had never met. Gritty invited only one other former Derby Doll, so I knew going in that I was going to have to make new friends. If there is one thing that I can do very well I can ooze charm. Dressing in the same red dress and curled hair I pulled in to the complimentary valet parking and flipped the switch. For the rest of the night I was the bold, funny, big girl making the Beverly Hills Jews giggle with glee. I enjoyed the impressive open bar, without going overboard. Indulged in the amazing dinner, without going overboard. And played the ballsy redhead, without going overboard. Did I get some up and down glances filled with disapproval? Yes. Did I let that stop me from dancing till my feet ached and taking three turns in the photo booth, one with the bride herself? Absolutely not. I settled in and had a great time and I did indeed make new friends along the way.
This blogumn is already so long I would love to tell you more but there just isn’t room. What I will say is that change is possible. You can change yourself and the way that people view you. You can also change the opinions that people have about you. The thing is that it’s all up to you (and you alone) what direction you want that change to move in. I walked into a high class LA wedding in a tight red dress as a size 14 filled with upscale Beverly Hills types and ended up laughing with almost all of them, forcing them to look beyond that first impression. I also walked into a wedding based on fun and excitement, which was filled with ghosts from my trouble filled past and found that redemption is possible. I will never win the hearts of all the Dolls, but I will always be welcomed with warmth and love by the majority of them.