Friday, April 20, 2012

My Glamorous Present

Since my birthday was on a very popular holiday in Cambodia, we got to celebrate an extra day as a family because my husband got a day off from work. On the day after my birthday, when a few places opened back up, I got my present. Oh, was it ever fun.

Think: Glamour Shots
                         but, Cambodia style.

They told us to allow two hours for the photo shoot and that all hair, make-up, and costumes would be provided there. The only thing they did not provide was a translator. No one spoke English, and it made for quite an adventure!

We walked in and I was told to change into what basically amounted to a piece of material with elastic around the top that wrapped around me like a towel. I was seated on a stool facing a nice Cambodian lady who propped my legs up on her stool and then proceeded to plop all her make up trays on my legs as she got started painting my face. It would have been fun except I had no idea what she was directing me to do because the few Khmer words I know have nothing to do with “close your eyes” or “open your mouth” or whatever she was saying. I have learned only useful phrases and since phrases like "close your eyes" don’t get me very far in the markets or on tuk tuks, I haven’t really learned them, you know? So, she’d say something, and when I didn’t do it, she’d slap my leg really hard and say it again. I guess hitting me was supposed to make me learn the language better? Not sure...  Anyway, one hour, two fake eyelashes, and forty seven bruises on my legs later, I was all dolled up.   

So we moved on to the hair. This whole time my kids and husband just got to sit and play angry birds on my phone. I was a little jealous but I was having lots of fun, too.  Anyway, they – there were 3 girls doing this - tied up most of my own hair and put a gorgeous hair piece on the back. Then they started crimping the front and teasing it until it got really gigantic and puffy. I had no say in what they did to my hair, but I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway so that was ok with me. During the process it looked a bit scary and my three year old laughed a lot but afterward it did look really pretty. I had fun, but I wanted badly to know what they were talking and giggling about. I caught some words here and there but not enough to figure out whether they liked me or not! 

And then came the costumes. Oh, boy that was fun. Well, picking them out was fun. I chose the red color because I like red, but they probably had 2 dozen colors to choose from, all of them just as sparkly and fancy as the one I chose. First they put a corset on me. THAT was not fun. I know corsets are supposed to be uncomfortable anyway, but this one was Cambodian girl size. And if you don’t know what size that is, just think about how small most girls from SE Asia are. Small. Way smaller than me. Since corsets are already supposed to be tight you can imagine where this is going...

I couldn’t breathe. I mean, I really couldn’t. They got the corset on, and then the dress, and I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “Wow, I look amazing! I have a real hourglass figure. I’m gorgeous!”  We had to wait a few minutes for the photographer and somewhere in there I remember telling Stephen that I was having trouble breathing. I also remember him commenting about how women used to wear these all the time and I should suck it up or something like that. Maybe I just imagined that.  It's all kind of hazy now.  He did think I looked good. I said it again and he told me that I seemed to be breathing fine. Then I started to fall down. Stephen caught me and eased me into a chair, where the ladies promptly unfastened the entire corset and as quickly as the blood had left my head, it returned. That didn’t stop them from rubbing oil all over my face, massaging my arms and shoulders, and wiping my nose for me as it ran (from the oil smell) because I couldn’t wipe it myself with them massaging me. After a few minutes of that and a fan in my face, I told them I was ready to try again. As they squeezed my fat rolls back into the corset and made me look pretty again, I stepped back into the high heels...

...and fell down again.

As they repeated the whole loosen corset / slather oil on my face / massage my arms and hands process, one of the ladies smiled at me and excitedly spoke an English word as she rubbed my belly: “Baby?!?”

Ha.  Ha.  Ha. 

“No, I’m not having a baby.” I said, as I shook my head in the universal sign for no. 

She smiled again and motioned as she said
(pointing at herself) “Me”
(pointing at her head) [insert khmer word for think]
(rubbing my stomach) “Baby”

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Nope.  I’m sure.  Not having a baby.  And I tried to tell them that but they didn’t understand. I know they didn’t understand because they just got more and more excited and their excitement grew contagious and soon they were all shouting “Baby!” and squealing. 

We ended up taking the photo without the corset. I mean, it was that or no photo since I couldn’t handle standing up with my pretend hourglass figure. We ended up with regular old non-hourglass-shaped me.

Okay, regular old non-hourglass-shaped me plus a hairpiece, fake eyelashes, kilos of jewels, loads of makeup, and gorgeous Cambodian clothes.

And a pretty handsome husband.  With pretty awesome pointy shoes.

And probably the cutest non-Cambodian kids in Cambodian clothes ever.

It was the best birthday present I could have received! 

And though we have a pretty great family, I have to admit I’m hoping that those ladies who were shouting “baby” don’t have the gift of prophecy.  Or am I hoping they do?  I don’t know.  

What’s your vote?  :P

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