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Monday, February 7, 2011

goody bag ho

So here we are.
This past Saturday night, my husband produced the Writers Guild Awards on the East Coast. And though I was tired and feeling bloated, though it would have been much easier to have settled in on a misty winter’s night and curled up with an assortment of snacks rather than try to hail a cab, I rediscovered some appropriate cocktail attire and steamed out the stuffed-unused-in-the-closet-for-too-long wrinkles. I dug through my dusty cubic zirconium and other fake sparklies, burned my thumb on the curling iron from sheer lack of practice and shook awake the long-slumbering hairspray can. I spackled and smeared and realized that evening makeup application is just like riding a bicycle, but only metaphorically. I teetered through the cocktail hour(s), nibbled on awkward foods and tried to remember how to avoid getting them stuck in my teeth, smiled at total strangers and made small talk and when it was all said and done, I really didn’t have to be there at all. I barely saw my husband all night. 

But indeed, I was there.  Yes, for spousal support (albeit from afar), and yes, to see how the awards show would all come out after having sort of lived with it for so many months, and yes, to meet the host, the simply fabulous Kristen Schaal. 
But deep down, I was mostly there for the goody bag.
That’s how blah things have been lately.
Don’t confuse the kind of “goody bag” that one gets after a benefit or un-televised awards show with the kind of “Goody Bag” that an Oscar presenter or nominee gets. There is no expensive jewelry involved, no plane tickets or smartphones, no iPods or designer handbags or watches. That celebrity-style “Goody Bag” is really just slang for “Gift Lounge,” where one is taken through a showroom of fancy things and photographed by PR reps and showered with the sort of stuff that doesn’t fit in a bag. It fits in a large box. Or suitcase. But “Goody Trunk” evokes a different image entirely.
No, the goody bag of which I speak is just a bag full of free stuff. It always includes the following: a book or CD that you will never read or listen to, some sort of hand, body, or face cream (the swankiness of which will be in a direct corollary with the swankiness of the event), Altoids or some other item in the breath refreshing category, a keychain/carabiner/lip balm/pen (either individual or some magical combination of the four), and something edible. If you are lucky, there will be something sweet and something savory. If you are really lucky, chocolate will be involved. More than one chocolate item (or bless my soul, a mini-box of truffles) equals jackpot.
And that’s about it. Oh sure, there are variations on this theme. Sometimes the bag is a nice reusable tote bag. Sometimes there is makeup or perfume in there. Or a fancy candle you’ll want to save for a special occasion but never burn. These bags make you feel snazzy enough to forget the rubber pesto-covered chicken you had to eat to get it.
Alternatively, sometimes there’s nothing in the goody bag but a bunch of pamphlets and bookmarks and coupons for services you will never use, all disguised with fancy tissue paper. These bags are often doled out by young volunteers who look ashamed.
But no matter what the contents (always unknown until you take it home for a sad version of Tired Christmas), people grab those bags on their way out the door like Soviets grabbing Levis in 1982. 
Too much? (Too communist-ist?)
My point is that it’s always fun to get free crap, even if the free crap is indeed free crap. But life is often mundane. Sometimes the promise of a little bag stuffed with rice crisps and books and glazed pecans is just enough to get one off the couch and into the Spanx.
Of course, I must say that I was ultimately glad that I went to the WGA-East Awards. I got to meet Kristen, who was lovely, my husband did a fantastic job, and the whole shebang was brisk, fun, and just over two hours. I was very proud to be the sort of supportive spouse that he used to be for me when we did this sort of “dolling-up for functions/benefits/concerts” way back in my halcyon Broadway days. It was the least I could do for him now.
But holy crap, those chocolate-covered cacao nibs in the goody bag really sealed the deal. Wow. 
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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