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to be hot and therefore, during an afternoon visit to Animal Kingdom some years back, I could be found resting with an out-of-date copy of Vogue inside the deliciously cool establishment known as Baby Care, a Disney designed place for mothers to take red-faced toddlers who are woozy from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