Sunday, November 10, 2013

Picture Perfect Poses: A Lesson from a Reader

On Jean: Dress: Kim's Boutique; Leggings: H&M; Booties: thrift; Vest: Wind River; Handbag: Coach. On me: Dress: ?; Earrings: Toni Cavelti; Diamond Ring: Effy; Brown ring, brooch, and bangle: vintage; Raincoat: London Fog; Shoes: Ecco
Jean was one of the first fans of Sublime Mercies.

She and Beau knew each other in childhood and she began reading Sublime Mercies when Beau posted it on his Facebook page. Soon after that, she wrote to me from Korea, telling me how much she was enjoying my blog. Needless to say, it was a good feeling.

Jean has taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Korea and also works in educational publishing. I taught ESL for many years, mostly to Japanese and Korean students, so she and I have more than just Beau in common. 

Before long, Jean and I found ourselves frequently conversing on Facebook, when it was late at night here, and early in the morning there. 

So, of course, when she said she'd be in Vancouver for a few days, we arranged to meet for dinner. It was a chance for us to meet each other in person, for her to reconnect with Beau, and for me and Beau to meet her husband, Jun. 

I was amused by Jean's downy, puffy, fluffy winter vest. Clearly, she hasn't spent much time in Canada for a while if she felt it was cold enough for such winter wear. Me, I'm not even wearing tights with my outfit.

I don't know why, but I'd somehow expected Jean to be more demure. Maybe it was because she'd written to me about her shyness to wear certain types of outfits. Maybe it's because, like Beau, she was raised in an extremely conservative, doomsday cult and I expected some of that conservatism to linger. 

But it turns out that she is funny, loquacious, and brash -- like me.

We had a lot of rather talkative fun, while Beau and Jun were quite a bit quieter than we were.

Before we even got to the restaurant, Jean and I were talking fashion. 

Her boots remind me of a style that seems to be quite popular with local Native Canadians because it echoes traditional Aboriginal footwear. I recently met the mother of Beau's son's best friend (who is Native) and, not only was she wearing boots like these but, when I commented on their resemblance to traditional Aboriginal fashion, she told me that is why she had bought them and that she had bought two pairs for her daughter too.

It's interesting to see how fashion trends spread around the world.

When I first saw what Jean was wearing, I thought her short dress was sheer lace! So I thought she was very daring indeed.

Jun and Beau said they were bored with our talk of fashion, but I'm not totally convinced that they were. When we took this photo, we told them to "look manly." This was their very best attempt, local craft beers and all. Are they convincingly manly? Depends on your definition of manly, eh?

Note that each man is smiling fondly at his lady love: Jun at Jean, and Beau at me.

I'm not yet used to spending time with other couples as part of a couple myself. I was single for a very long time, and it still feels odd, this double-dating thing, almost like something mainstream people do, not me. It was kind of nice, though, to compare notes on our respective interactions with our partners. 

Of course, we had to talk about Jean's rather dazzling wedding ring. I wish I had a photo of it from the side; from that angle it looks like flower petals rising to frame the central diamond. Aside from its beauty, and aside from its being a sign of their commitment to one another, this ring is very special to Jean and Jun because Jun's mother, much beloved by both of them, picked it out before she passed away last year.

Me, I'm still struggling to commit to a ring. It's easy to commit to Beau but one ring, for life? That's a struggle.

This was also the first time I'd heard of "accent nails," the addition of a few sparkley nails to an otherwise more demure manicure. Now that Jean's shown them to me though, I often notice them on my students. 

Me, I've never even had a manicure, but I'm thinking of getting pedicures next summer, since it's now painful to simply cut my toenails, let alone paint them. If you're not disabled, I'll bet you never even thought of that: cutting one's toenails is difficult with a back injury.

Jean really wanted you, dear readers, to see the lovely colour this Coach bag. I don't blame her. I've always wanted a pair of boots this colour and have yet to own one. But hey, as Patti of Visible Mondays says, I'm Not Dead Yet. I'll own a pair some day.

Of course, now I too needed to share the details of my outfit. I always zero in on the details. As you probably know by now, jewelry is my joy, and I adore old costume jewelry brooches. I can never have enough.

I was really glad to see that both Jean and Beau have shed the worst of the inhibitions and body hatred imposed upon them by their cult when they were children. No-one who grew up in difficult circumstances can ever entirely shed the effects of those difficulties, but nor need our lives be entirely defined by them.

I mean just look at Beau, all hip and relaxed and stuff. No longer is he buttoned up to the neck, literally or metaphorically. 

This is his new look, thanks to me. I got him some plaid shirts at Value Village and now he's Mr. Hipster. He tends to wear "uniforms": almost identical, but nice, outfits, day after day. We're working on that. Diversity is fun!

So are the snap buttons on this shirt. I can "rip" his shirt off him lickety split, without actually damaging his clothes: the best of both worlds.

But my main memory of this evening is Jean's absolute perfection in posing for photos: chin out, head tilted to the side, gentle smile. She's like that in all these photos. Therefore, she always looks good in every photo. 

I've never managed that. Beau says I move too much, when he's trying to take my picture. Just as he gets the frame perfect, he says I wiggle, or worse.

There are always several photos of me talking, often because I'm giving the photographer instructions. I never seem to be content to just be the object of the photos; I must be their controlling subject as well. (Yes, that last sentence clearly reveals that I'm English teacher.) 

Every photo shoot contains several in which at least one of my body parts is blurry with motion.

I asked Jean to give me lessons on her picture perfect posing. Here's how it works: thrust your chin out to hide any soft, double-chin; do a little 3/4 profile to bring out the cheek bones; look sideways at the camera to seem sweet; smile gently. 

Even as I burst out laughing at the effort of all this, Jean kept her pose and her composure perfectly.

But look, it really does work! See how lovely and sharp chinned we are? Too bad this blurry photo is the only one in which I actually got it right. As you'll see in future posts, I've tried it since and I still can't get it right. This time was a fluke, I think, but I'll keep trying.

Maybe some day I'll look sweetly demure in every photo. But don't hold your breath.

(I'm posting this over at Spy Girl for her purple fun.)


  1. What a wonderful meet-up, for both you and Beau. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday!

  2. I read this when you first posted it, and now reading again since you linked it up with 52 Pick-me-up.
    A lovely story. Nevermind The Demure. Be you!

    1. I was planning to create a new post (though with the same dress) but my partner and I came down with a terrible stomach bug that landed me in the hospital (complications with my back injury and dehydration) so you got a recycled one instead.

      I'm okay now, though my appetite is a bit wobbly still, and I'm still pretty tired out.