Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Porcelain Zero


Porcelain Zero

In summer, the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” becomes the hottest place on Earth as well.  I know this from experience for I have been to Disneyworld in summer.  Now don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy Disneyworld.  For a person like me, habitually keen on controlling  just about every mundane aspect of life, there is something quite seductive in simply handing over my car keys to a cheerful chap dressed like a nineteenth century footman, walking through doors that whoosh open at my approach like something out of Star Wars and entering a comfortably chilled hotel lobby where the air smells like lilies and the sumptuous decor seems straight off the set of  The Music Man.   For the entire length of my stay my sole commission is to enjoy myself and, to that end, I wear only play clothes and am driven around on monorails and boats, blissfully unaware of newspapers or television.  I need no car, I need no purse, I need no money ( at least not until check-out day when I shall need far more money that I ever expected for a three day holiday, but no worries till then).  Everywhere I turn there are characters straight out of my childhood storybooks, nodding at me encouragingly and clapping their fat little orange hands in delight at the simple sight of my approach.  Mary Poppins stops by my breakfast table to give her regards over my freshly squeezed orange juice.  I mean, what’s not to like?  ( Of course, if one were inclined to a cynical view, one might suspect that those life-sized stuffed animals busily clapping their hands and permanently grinning their stitched on grins are, in grim reality, sullen teenagers who have signed on to swelter inside those tortuous polyester suits for the duration of the summer months in order to earn enough money for an iPhone.  One can only imagine the faces they pull inside those outfits each time they pose for yet another picture with a sweaty faced tourist clad in madras shorts and holding a half-eaten turkey leg in one hand.  But, I digress.)  Suspending belief in reality is a specialty of mine, and so I love to go to Disneyworld.
I most decidedly do not, however, love to be hot and therefore, during an afternoon visit to Animal Kingdom some years back, I could be found resting with an out-of-date copy of Vogue inside the deliciously cool establishment known as Baby Care, a Disney designed place for mothers to take red-faced toddlers who are woozy from too much excitement and heat, and a spot I discovered to be just perfect for yours truly when The Songwriter was desirous of a spin on the dinosaur ride.

Truth is, summer is just not my season and it never has been.  I am of Celtic descent and have the almost translucent colouring to prove it.  I do not tan - I do not attempt to tan.   Clad in my usual white linen and sun hat, I might indeed be invisible without lipstick.  If you are inclined to think I exaggerate, I offer this example.  Once, on a Disney monorail, on my way to a massage, I sat down across from a friendly Latino family.  We smiled at each other, the only barrier to conversation being lack of a common language.  As the flying car zipped along over the sun speckled lake, I noticed that the youngest child was staring at me, staring hard.  Finally, he pointed straight at my face, looked up at his mother and said...”Muy blanca!”.  Yes, that’s right.  Very white.  I knew enough high school Spanish for that translation.  Surrounded as the little fellow was by so many fantastical Disney creatures, it gave me pause to think my appearance elicited such awe within him.  But, there you go.

Now I’m told by dermatologists that this is not such a bad thing.  Supposedly, the lack of sun exposure indicated by my pale visage bodes well for my skin’s carefree traipse through the aging process.  We shall see.   I do well remember once approaching the Bobbi Brown make-up counter and being almost blown backwards by the delight of a saleswoman when she clapped eyes on me and called to her co-workers... “Look!  Look!  It’s Porcelain Zero!!"  Thinking at first that maybe I was, as I had always secretly suspected, a superhero, and that this woman had finally realized my true name, I was instead informed that Porcelain Zero was the name of one of Bobbi’s foundation colours, a colour that, up until that very moment, no one had ever been white enough to qualify for. 

Yes, Porcelain Zero.  Not bad.  With a moniker such as that I  think I could give Catwoman a run for her money, don’t you?  Now would someone please turn on the fan and pass the sunscreen?

painting by marie laurencin

50 comments:

  1. Ah! Celtic skin. You'd fit in fine
    here in deepest France profonde . With Swedish and Scottish skin we live the trogladyte existence in order to keep melanoma at bay. Close up the shutters at 11.00, have lunch on the shady terrace, and then don't re-emerge until late afternoon. While everyone else is now as tanned as you'd expect in the South of France we manage to look as if we've just stepped off the plane from Rekjavik. Maybe it's something to do with sharing one's life with heat loathing PON's? By the way you must have posted this at midnight. Oh to be in Disney World - but not in July.

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  2. Although I tan quicly and deeply, I am easily overwhelmed by heat. Alex like heat (don't all cats) but the humid heat we've been having in the Ohio River Valley has kept even him indoors. AS we look foward to more 90 F temperatures this afternoon, I believe that both Alex and I will remain indoors.

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  3. Hi,
    The picture is lovely.

    I'm not the one either who's become brown in the summer. Maybe a little bit, but not much. It's just so that we are different and I think that's good !

    xo
    Anci

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  4. I think you look fine! Not different at all just lovely.

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  5. Porcelain Zero also sounds like a Bond girl name!
    Much nicer to be pale and interesting than look like one of those leather skinned creatures who have worshipped the sun for too long.
    XXX

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  6. Another Celtic paleface here too Pamela. I always think of Billy Connolly's joke that it takes a week in the sun for him to get white!
    I cannot tolerate high temperatures at all.
    I wouldn't enjoy Disneyworld though, I find those sort of places a bit 'scary'.

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  7. I think Dash said it perfectly. My Mother was Porcelain Zero- something to be quite proud of I think! We are now getting the heat that has been pestering others... I don't always love using the AC, but we are now! Love this post Pamela.

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  8. You my dear are definitely anything but a zero.

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  9. Hot everywhere - another in the mid 90's here in NH today and just as hot when we get to Montreal tomorrow!!!!!

    I admire you for keeping your porcelain complexion - if only we could regain those teen years and start anew!!!!!

    From the road......and my amazing iPad!!!

    Mary - and granddaughter Jasmin who loves your posts, and Edward!

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  10. You would enjoy the summer we are having over here; changeable but mostly warm and dry, my favourite kind as I, too, am intolerant of hig temps.

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  11. How do you do it? Always find the perfect picture to fit your words. Magnificent! I chuckled aloud at Porcelain Zero, though I know you are a hero to many. I would be the next step up, barely, and have learned the hard way to protect my skin after youthful years of sun worshipping leading to what I call "cut and paste" a few years ago when a spot on my nose turned into something else. Fortunately, it was easily taken care of, but, I am so careful now.

    I loved your rendition of Disneyworld, Pamela. I'm smiling.

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  12. Fun piece! I can relate. It's a parasol for Norwegian me if I must go out to the summertime ballgame! And, I do so love Disneyland, too. We go everu January for the full marathon...and note that it's great weather for the suited-up characters!

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  13. Well, Pamela, I'm sure there are worse things one can be called than "muy blanca"
    or "porcelain zero". Be grateful for your super hero status!

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  14. To be 'Porcelian Zero' sounds wonderful you are so right to guard your skin against the sun. Someone once said I had Irish colouring i.e. very dark hair with pale skin and blue eyes - now I'm grey I feel very pale indeed and always wear a hat to shield me from the sun rays. To answer your questions - regards 'An Education' - the film is taken from just one chapter of the book about the life of Lynn Barber and yes, Penelope Lively is a wonderful writer:)

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  15. My children call me the "Vampire" because I refuse to go out in the sun. It's cool mornings and dark evenings for me.
    Cenya

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  16. This painting by Marie Laurencin is the perfect accompaniment to illustrate 'Porcelain Zero'.

    (I agree with you about fireworks. My cat always hid under the bed for hours. Now that he's gone I find myself worrying about the squirrels in their nests. I kid you not.)

    Catherine

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  17. It must be a relief (smile) to qualify for porcelain zero. But I wonder if you have to be careful with bright colored clothes (or not? I have no idea, since I've an Asian skin, the yellows do not look so good on me)

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  19. I would happily join you in that super cool space - I am not happy in hot weather either.

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  20. Ah....Porcelain skin! I know it all too well. I once asked my sister what to get my boyfriend for Valentine's Day (in high school, when one does such things), and she said, "You could give him a photo of you naked and he could use it as a night light." Lovely. Only now, as I get older, can I appreciate my skin for more than simply its color - or lack thereof.

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  21. oh, how horrid! NOT TO HAVE YOUR LOVELY SKIN :)
    BUT~
    to be in Disneyworld in the summer, in July, I have been there but it was on the Left Coast, many times, you would think I would learn! apparently I[we] don't!

    I would steal to have your skin, this painting is lovely, and you will be glad when you have put on an extra decade as you will not have the spots, the damage, the sagging, bagging and wrinkles those who have lain their selves tanning under that blazing orb will have...I wish I had known what I know now when I was 15, in the backyard, tin foil and a hose to keep me cool and cocoa butter on my skin to get a deep golden brown tan[crisp!]....now~ voila~sun damage and hats always! so, long comment short, you are blessed! Rejoice! ;)

    apologies for this over long tirade...

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  22. This is so funny!
    I think pale is very elegant amidst all the weathered brown lizards in Florida.........
    I'm not quite convinced by Disney/world/land but have not been there for thirty years so am not in a position to comment.
    Happy post 4th of July!

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  23. right there with you, maybe porcelain 1. great post. pgt

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  24. Disney World in the middle of summer sounds terrible! Porcelain Zero sounds like a thriller. And you sound like you'd do well here in the cool Northwest (it got up to 71 today, but I think we're do for something warmer later this week.)

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  25. I always admire women who have delicate skin. I think of Cate Blanchette, Meryl Streep or Tilda Swinton -women whose looks I totally love. But perhaps you're paler ? There's something very ethereal and otherworldly about porcelain skin. Lucky you ! I'm with you on the heat Pamela. I hate sweating !

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  26. Usually its not quite so hot here in the foothills, but, today its up there... I'm reading your post about heat with Pasha cat stretched out as far as he can be to get every bit of air on his belly. Just a bit of a breeze coming up now at 11PM. Ugh. I didn't get a whole lot done today. Seems I wade through these days wondering if anyone does get anything done. Then I remember that many people have air conditioning. The trees are my air conditioning, I have two air conditioners stored in my studio, not wanting to lose the connection with the forest sounds by closing windows and plugging in... but I secretly love going into cafes that have the ac blasting when its this hot!

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  27. I laughed out loud several times while reading Porcelain Zero and DrummerDude said; "What?!? What?!?" So I read it to him aloud and we both chuckled together. So, so cute!

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  28. I am fairly light skinned and my Mother's is like silk, so I am crossing my fingers for a kind aging process!!

    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  29. Porcelain Zero sounds like a great name for a book, or a band. I have stopped wearing sunscreen and now just let my face and arms tan. However I do live in Scotland so this process ususally takes the entire summer to complete. I am not a summer person either - I am most certainly an autumn creature. I love the harvest.

    Don't know if I'll ever make it to Disneyland, but I do love your description of leaving all your cares behind.

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  30. What a fab post. From the magic of Disneyworld to sullen teenagers to a pale complexion...and it still all made perfect sense to me ;-)

    I'm kind of with you, I don't tan easily (in fact my legs don't tan at all) but I get a slight golden glow on my face over the course of the summer, just by being outside without actually sunbathing (seriously, life's too short to just sit by a pool all day the only goal being a deep tan).

    Funny enough, I always thought I was pretty good with heat (43 degrees C in the Sahara dessert didn't bother me) but the heat in London is something else, even when it's not really that hot it feels stifling...

    Hope you have a lovely week, Love from London x

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  31. that's very very funny that they pointed at you and said porcelain zero. The make up women always want to darken me up! I am most definitely a porcelain zero, I'd love to tan but I do fear the scary leather handbag older lady look and you have to work with what you have.

    In the 1920s we would have been the height of fashion and I actually rather like being milky- and I don't do fake tan, it smells funny, it's obvious what it is and if a man doesn't like you as you are then they aren't worth it

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  32. ... oh I cannot believe it, I think I've written Sahara Desert with a "ss"... ouch...

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  33. What's happening to my comments? All those clever words about your post...they seem to have disappeared ... Is this one going to make it? Hope you have a lovely week, Love from London x

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  34. Absolutely lovely - just as I would imagine an angel to look. An ethereal beauty you are!

    Thank you for coming by to see my Ripple 'fish trio' linocut. I was wondering if you'd like one, matted and ready to frame, and if so in which colour? I want to send one to each of my special blogpals just as a fun way of reminding us that Modern technology/Owes ecology/An enormous apology! I think Kelly's Ripple Sketch collaboration was absolutely stellar and such a great way to help those affected by the Gulf oil disaster.

    Stay cool under the shade of your wide brimmed hat, dear Pamela. xxx

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  35. Thank you, Ms. Porcelain Zero, for putting yet another smile on my face.

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  36. Hee! Porcelain Zero. Like it! I too am not a summer fan - autumn is my season, the time of colour and a nostalgic last look back at summer, the changing air, snuggling down in knit and wool, the quickening of expectancy and the approaching dark - oh yes, my season. I am of Celtic heritage as well. :)

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  37. oh wonderful, this post really made me smile. I love the idea of you as Porcelain Zero the superhero with Edward her trusty sidekick.

    I also have fond memories of Disneyland, from a family holiday when I was about 9

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  38. Yes, our whiter-than-white-ness. I fear though I wasn't as smart as you and as a California Teenager - tried (in vain AND pain) to suntan only to burn, blister & peel. I stay out of the sun now and still have the fear of some long-ago-transgression with the sun will come back with a vengeance! Stay strong, Porcelain Zero..

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  39. I visited Disney World once in August. I don't think hell could have been any hotter. We were so wiped out by the heat that we got in the habit of returning to our rooms around lunch and napping until 4 or 5 and then returning to the park for the evening hours.

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  40. Oh my gosh Pamela...this was just too darn funny! Muy blanca...hilarious! Being pale is a very good thing. Being 42, covered in brown spots because you spent too much time on the beach as a teenager slathered in baby oil for the perfect tan...not so good. ;)

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  41. Pale and interesting is always better than tanned and worn. ;)

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  42. I so loved your take on Disney. I get very tired of all the criticism. Why not suspend reality? Who was it who said it isn't all it's cracked up to be? :<) (though I live without radio or tv or even much internet news right here at home!)

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  43. I hate hot weather too this is why I’m happy in Maine. Sadly we are caught in an unusual heat wave. I try to avoid midday sun and use sun block, not lotion (the stuff with zinc). A suntan is not healthy. I’m with you, Porcelain Zero, even with my olive skin that tans easily.

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  44. I loved your tale of your Disneyland refuge. And you will have such gorgeous skin when the rest of us are frazzled. Come on over here - 18 degrees just now, with a fresh wind blowing from the North West, bringing the scent of the hills even into the city.

    Thanks for your good wishes for my Dad. Yes, the National Health Service is a jewel.

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  45. You do have the most beautiful complexion Pamela. Porcelain Zero is a wonderful description!
    You look perfectly comfortable and happy in the photo of you and Edward in the snow. I do have a hard time imagining you at Disney World in the Summer! Although I've never been to Disney World, I have spent many wilting days at Disneyland during the summer. Not my favorite thing to do!

    Another wonderful story Pamela!

    xo
    Brooke

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  46. Edward may also be a porcelain zero with his pale, blond good lucks. what a beautiful couple you make.

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  47. I have to tell my porcelain daughter about this Bobbi Brown product:)

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  48. I love the name of that: Porcelain Zero. And to me, you do have superpowers. Your way with words is out of this world.

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  49. I so adore that you are not too cool for Disneyworld, I think some people turn their noses up at it but secretly like.

    Porcelain Zero made me laugh, you're not quite albino, yet quelle monicker!

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  50. You tickled me so with your makeup counter tale! Everyday an adventure when you are Porcelain Zero!

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