Wendyl Nissen ponders what to wear to a party.
I've always had a passionate dislike for dress-up parties. The commitment to having compulsory fun by turning up dressed as a carrot has always left me cold. If I go to a party I'll decide how much fun I'll have and also what the main topic of conversation will be. Chances are that conversation won't start with the words, "look at you dressed up as a carrot you hard case!"
So when we were invited to a birthday party recently, and told that we had to dress in a sexy uniform, my hand immediately went to hit "reply" on the email and rsvp a "sorry got something on". But then something inexplicable happened. In that split second I desperately wanted to dress up as a nurse.
"But you never dress up for parties," said my concerned children. "First time for everything," I replied.
"Forget it," said a friend, "there will be much sexier and younger nurses than you there my dear."
"You mistake me for someone who goes to parties to pull," I replied haughtily. "I happen to be very comfortable leaving the house not looking like a porn star."
My husband was up for it. Not the nurse's outfit but the fact that he had been quietly putting together his own costume for the past few months with the aim of using it to embarrass our 13-year-old daughter.
For years she has had an allergy to anyone dressed in what she calls "denim on denim". This style crime involves the layering of denim jeans with a denim shirt or jacket. In my husband's case, he had quietly accumulated denim shoes, hat, shirt and vest to add to his Levis. The plan was to walk into the Ponsonby Food Court one night to meet us for dinner in all his "denim on denim".
We both thought the look on our daughter's face would be hilarious. Her older brother suggested that public humiliation of a 13-year-old could end in tears and be considered cruel. We hadn't looked at it like that, so "denim on denim" was on standby, waiting for a suitable outing.
As the day of the party approached I took myself off to the costume hire shop and lingered around the nurses' uniforms.
And then I saw it. The perfect outfit for me. A vintage green Pak'nSave checkout uniform, complete with a badge informing everyone that I was a checkout supervisor and my name was Vanya.
I brought it home and showed the children, who were impressed. I tried it on several times and marvelled at how easy it was to get dressed for work in a supermarket. You simply step into it, pull up the zip and off you go. "I might have to get myself a uniform for working at home," I told my husband. "Something easycare with a zip. Perhaps something more King's Plant Barn than Pak'n Save due to the amount of time I spend covered in hen muck and dirt."
As the countdown to the party began, so too did the party in my stomach attended by thousands of bacteria commonly known as a tummy bug.
I sent a text to say that we wouldn't make it and hung up my uniform one last time. Mr "denim on denim" decided to get dressed up anyway to brighten his daughter's Saturday night and was rewarded with a mere lift of the eyebrows. "Is that it?" he'd said, disappointed.
"Well, that didn't work," I suggested later.
"No matter," he replied. "It's all about context, it'll keep until the next parent/teacher interviews."