There are two words that strike fear in my very soul.
I hear those words and my heart sinks, it sinks far far down, past my stomach and nestles somewhere mid-thigh.
I find it hard to explain how much I hate it. Which is a drawback given that that’s the subject of this blog post.
I think it stems from the fact that I’m not a Look At Me (LAM). I think when people don’t have much confidence they go one of two ways – they retreat into themselves, keep quiet, keep their head down or they become incredibly loud and draw attention to themselves a.k.a. they become LAMs.
LAMs have always confused me somewhat. If you’re so afraid of people talking about you and being mean to you why would you start shouting and screaming and drawing attention? I think the basic premise is that if they are drawing attention to themselves then that is on their terms, they’re in control of what people are talking about and this is infinitely better than spending your time wondering and assuming that people are being awful to you. But this is merely conjecture, I can never know what goes on in a LAM’s head because I am 100% not a LAM.
Fancy dress sits comfortably with LAMs for obvious reasons but I have another theory why they like it so much. Fancy dress allows LAMs to not be themselves for a short period of time – the person that they are, the not confident, constantly paranoid being, gets shoved to the side and they get to become someone-else. If you’re someone-else then no-one can be mean to you for who you are – if they think your costume is rubbish well they’re just having a go at your lame attempt to be C-3PO, they’re not having a go at you yourself.
My fellow Anti-LAMs feel sick when it comes to the prospect of fancy dress. Actually sick. No jokes. That’s how much I don’t like it and how stressed I get at the thought of it. I actively try to not draw attention to myself, if I’m out and being drunk and rowdy I’m not trying to get people to look at me, I’m just having fun with my friends. I’m not the person standing there, breathing in, my eyes flickering constantly to the side seeing who’s watching me having fun, I’m too busy having the fun.
LAMs find my fear of fancy dress incredibly difficult to comprehend, “Oh come on, it’s not that big a deal” they’ll say. Well actually it is a big deal for me. If I decided that I wanted to go out for my birthday next year and everybody had to come out with me and we all had to be naked – how would you feel about that? Would you be up for it? Asking me to go out dressed in fancy dress garners the same response as if you asked me to go out naked. I do not want to do it.
I generally dislike being told what I should or should not be wearing. I don’t feel it’s anyone’s place to decree that you must dress in a certain way or wear a particular item of clothing. Surely you’re supposed to feel comfortable when you go out? There is no way on god’s earth I am going to feel comfortable in some ridiculous get-up.
And then they say “Well you don’t have to do it.” Right. Because being the only person not in fancy dress will be infinitely easier than just doing it and spending the night feeling like crap.
My favourite charge that gets levelled at me when I groan and pull faces about the possibility of fancy dress is that “you’re no fun.” No, sorry, incorrect. I am fun. I might not be confident about a lot of things but I’m confident that I’m an okay person to have on a night out. I know how to enjoy myself (and I’m getting better at doing it without the aid of alcohol. Slightly.) and I can do it wearing the very clothes that I’ve chosen to go out in. If I’m dressed up and feeling and looking like a twat I won’t be fun. I’ll be too busy worrying that I’m feeling and looking like a twat.
But there’s no way of getting out of it. It’s inevitably going to happen at some point and try as I might to avoid it there are certain situations where you have to succumb.
Hen-dos are such a time. A friend is getting married soon and we are off to Sheffield for the weekend to drink too much (yes including me, sorry Warfarin but I’ll be using alcohol to thin my blood this weekend) and hopefully embarrass her. And we’ll be doing it dressed in 50s/60s outfits.
The hen did text me shortly after the announcement was made telling me that she knew I would be freaking out about it but she chose something that could be widely interpreted and for that I thank her.
I am playing on the safe side. Very on the safe side. I got me a 50s-style dress (hurrah for Mad Men influencing the clothes in the shops and hurrah for Matalan for being inexpensive) and a Bump-it, lots of black eye liner and I can get into the spirit of things. Yes I know that technically I’m mixing my 50s and 60s but please don’t sue me. I won’t be wearing this kind of outfit like some of the girls are but hey, I’m sticking within the rules.
To be honest I still want to throw up and will almost definitely come close before we go out because I’m wearing something I would never normally wear but that’s where my good friend Alcohol will step up and help soothe away my anxieties. (Am I ever going to break this dependency on alcohol? I fear not unless I have a brain transplant and grow the confidence gene.)
But just spare a thought for me as I do my best to channel my inner LAM and come to terms with the horror.