In military officer life, roughly once a year, there is a very formal event known as a “Dining Out.”  Like most fancy parties, it consists of an hour or so of cocktails and appetizers, followed by a formal dinner, sometimes followed by dancing, which is closely followed by lots of alcoholic beverages.  There are usually a few games involved, the favorite of which (of spectators, anyway) is the grog bowl.  This is worth mentioning solely because it is so disgusting.  Basically, at the start of the dinner, a designated serviceman approaches the “grog bowl table” and mixes a horrendously disgusting combination of liquids.  You never really know what goes into it.  It usually involves some type of carbonated soda, tomato juice, and strong alcohol, but then they throw in unidentified bottles of unrecognizable materials, which they nick-name “sewage,” barf,” or some other appealing name.  I even attended one where they threw in anchovies too!  Oh, yeah, this is a high class party!  To be nice, they usually mix a second grog bowl of the same liquids, but minus the alcohol, for boring tea-totallers like us.  Then, a list of rules are passed out.  Every Dining Out’s rules are different.  Generally, the rules only apply to the active-duty members (not their spouses, thankfully, which is I why I can enjoy the entertainment so much!).  When a member breaks a rule, he must proceed to the grog table, perform some designated act such as a salute, serve up a full cup of “grog” and drink it.  To ensure he drank it all, he then must tip the cup upside down and place it on his head.  Yes, drinking the sludge is better than staining their mess dress with it, so they always drink it in it’s entirety!  I told you it was a disgustingly entertaining game!  The rules can be anything from a breach of proper ettiquette, to an unzipped fly, to taking a restroom break at an inopportune time, to a failure to not speak in rhyme.  S is such a good boy, that in the almost 10 years we have been married, I think he has only had to drink the grog once.  OK, moving on….

This event is a big deal for active duty servicemen, and although it is not written as a requirement to attend, it is an unwritten rule that the event is mandatory participation without a really good excuse.  With the exception of a few of S’s assignments where they did not offer one, we have always made a point to attend.  Believe it or not, I very much enjoy them.  It is always so much fun to get all dressed up, look good for my hubby, see him all fancied up in his mess dress (extra fancy military uniform for those of you who aren’t military), and shadow him all night acting like some sort of trophy wife.  It is the one night I get to feel like a woman and his wife, rather than the run-down, plain jane mommy/ housekeeper/ cook/ maid/ schoolteacher/ goat milker/ gardener that I usually feel like.

So, to prepare for the evening, as is our custom, the night before, I modeled my dresses for S so he could pick one for me (it’s technically his event, so I like to wear what he wants for this occasion).  He surprised me by picking a rather revealing, tank-top, above-the-knee, cocktail-type dress and my 4-inch black platform heels.  Armed with the knowledge of what I would wear, this morning started out a little different.  With the anticipation of the evening, I planned the day so I could spread out the “getting ready” over the course of the day, seeing as how I still had to play mommy/ housekeeper/ cook/ maid/ schoolteacher/ goat milker/ gardener until later that evening.  This year, I also had to do all the prepping alone, as S works about 30 minutes from our new home.  It only made sense for me to pick him up at work and we head to the event.  So he won’t be coming home to help out while I get ready. 

So, right after breakfast, I started filing and painting my nails.  I never paint my nails.  I can never sit still long enough to let the paint dry.  This time, I decided to take a different approach.  I thought I’d try painting in stages, one thin coat at a time. That’s when I realized that my once beautiful, long nails have disappeared with the addition of babies, dairy goats, chickens, turkeys, and general farm life.  I also discovered my nail polish cap was totally painted on to the bottle.  After spending an hour trying to file and shape what little nail I had left, and another hour trying to open my bottle of polish, I painted on the first thin coat.  And waited for it to dry.  Then I had to get back to normal life and go tend the kiddos, milk the goat, get JR started on school, and clean the house a bit.  While doing a little paperwork at my desk, I licked an envelope in preparation for mailing it, and got a papercut on my lip.  OUCH!  No biggie, I can hide the cut with lipstick later. 

Then, it was time for the 2nd coat of nail polish.  Afterward, I figured it was a prime time to sit down and relax, rock the baby, and read up on goat kidding preparations (ours is due in 3 weeks).  Of course, I wound up messing up my polish when the baby got fussy.  Oh well.  I did my best to repair the damage, waited a bit longer, and then went back to life as normal.  I fed the kids lunch, put them down for naps, and decided to use my 2 hours of quiet time to focus on getting ready for the big event.  I decided to take a shower and get all cleaned up.  That’s when I learned it is nearly impossible to get the dirt stains that go hand-in-hand with farm life completely out from under the nails or the dried-out cracks in my skin.  No problem!  First, I pulled out my hydrogen peroxide and liberally applied it to the dirtiest areas around my nails.  Worked like a  charm!  Then, I just applied another coat of nail polish and a bit of extra lotion!  Maybe with enough jewelry accents, no one will notice the remaining dirt, soil, and chicken poop stains.

Next, it was time to lotion up, pluck the eyebrows, get dressed, and fix my hair and makeup.  Of course, fancy dresses seldom use normal undergarments, so I had to take some time to mix-and-match the appropriate items.   As a diabetic, I also wear an insulin pump.  When I wear the rare, fancy, one-piece dress, I have to strategically locate my pump under my clothing where it can’t be seen.  It involves a specialized garter, uncomfortable clips, and velcro.  That is why I don’t typically wear one-piece dresses.  Unfortunately, this also makes it completely inaccessible.  So, I have to use a remote control to take my insulin.  Now I don’t own fancy “equipment” to go with those fancy dresses.  I do, however, own safety pins and double-sided tape!  A few strategically placed safety pins and tape slivers, and voila, the dress totally works!  Until I need to use the restroom or sweat.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  Note to self: throw a few extra pins and rolls of tape in purse.  Oh, shoot, I can’t.  The fancy purse that goes with the chosen dress is about the size of a wallet, and I have no room for such extras.  SIGH….  Look at the bright side.  At least I managed to get my nails looking acceptable.  Now….to find that pump remote! 

S had made his request for little makeup and his favorite hairstyle–slightly curled, down, with only small amounts pulled back.  Make up and styled hair looks great, but takes quite a bit of time and lots of effort to do, so it is totally not conducive to daily homeschool mom or farm life!  Today is special though, so I decided to go for it.  I had over an hour before the kids woke up, and the main part of the house was clean, so why not?  Then I discovered I had almost no make-up, and what little I did have was well over 4 years old.  Good thing S likes “little” makeup, ’cause that was all he was gettin’ for this event!  I also had none of the hair clips he had requested.  So, I had to get creative and make do with what I did have.  I don’t like getting creative.  It makes my brain hurt.  Now, fixing hair for such an event requires holding my arms up and behind my head for great lengths of time.  That’s when I remembered that, since I live on a farm now, I had brilliantly decided to update my tetanus shot a couple days ago.  That leaves very sore muscles in the upper arm for days!  It’s OK, though.  I’m a pretty tough cookie.  I mean, hey, I went through induced labor.  Once.  Never care to try that again!  I can handle a little soreness to pretty up for my beloved.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

Finally, it was almost time for the sitter to arrive.  I quickly tried to get things prepared for the kids and the baby-sitters, and then it was time for the 4-inch, strappy, platform heels.  Now, I am a tennis shoes or cowboy boots kinda girl.  I am also a complete klutz.  All the time.  I have poor balance and even worse coordination.  I have a big, ugly bruise from who-knows-what right on my kneecap to prove it, and, oh, by the way, it is very visible under that above-the-knee dress!  So, it’s a miracle if I can wear these fancy shoes and not break my ankle.  But, hey, it’s a special night, right?  Maybe, hopefully, they’ll let me sit down some time during the first 2 hours, which would drastically increase my chances of survival and pretending to be graceful.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

Finally, I take care of the final touch ups.  I think I look pretty hot, actually.  Can’t wait until S sees me.  I don my thin black shawl to cover my bare back and shoulders.  I open the front door just to discover the winds are howling, and the temperature is quickly approaching the 20’s.  And I have perfect hair, a sexy dress that leaves my skin mostly bare, and a silly, thin shawl that is supposed to keep me warm.  Right.  At least my nails look good!  And I have the entertainment of the grog to look forward to.  In fact, after all I have gone through, and the discomfort I am about to go through, I think there is a little piece of me that would find some value in seeing S visit the grog. 

YIKES!  Did I just say that out loud?!  I love you, honey!