During the blizzardy winter of 2008 Jenn Wilson and I made a plan: we would go to Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and take pictures of me wearing my Ann Miller "bumblebee" outfit. Since it takes almost two hours to get there we decided we must go during the summer. To avoid traffic we would have to decide on a weekday, preferably around noon hour.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 7:20 am: We are aiming to make a head-start on the day so I have already done my ironing and planning and worrying the day before. I have cereal for breakfast and begin to get into drag.
I had tried to be blase about this adventure, but perhaps I was a bit TOO blase when it came to choosing my drag timetable; due to a simple miscalculation I have lost twenty minutes of prep time. There is a lot you can do -- or, in this case, CAN'T do -- in twenty minutes. My hair and makeup is done in record time. I forget my gloves.
9:10 am: We're off! Almost immediately we are surrounded by cars; it would seem that everybody is going to Niagara Falls on the same day as we. They want to see us succeed in our crazy endeavour. They are slowing us down and getting in our way.
10:00 am: Somewhere around Lincoln I begin to feel uncomfortable and anxious and I need to go to the bathroom.
I generally try to avoid bathrooms while I'm doing a Daily Muffy. Drag bathroom-etiquette is difficult at the best of times, and THIS time I'm wearing an outfit that takes time and subtlety to get in and out of. We pull into a Tim Horton's because I'm hoping that the bathrooms have a single stall.
On my way through the door a man asks me if I have a gas can. Then he notices that I am wearing a bright yellow '50s tap-dancing dress that is cut up to my crotch. He recoils.
By the time I'm finished in the bathroom I realize that I was suffering a form of anxiety due to the way the morning has gone: I got out of bed, jumped into drag, and then rushed into Jenn's car...then we drove non-stop through an alien landscape toward a place I'd never been before. I had felt a bit like a fish, yanked out of the ocean, dropped into a fishbowl, and then rocketed off without yet having a chance to get a grip on the environment.
Now that I have stared down the clientele of a roadside Tim Horton's, I have finally "decompressed." Damn it, Niagara Falls, I'm ready for you!
10:30 am: We park at a pay lot and walk toward the casino. We'd been worried about the weather, but the black storm clouds have all cleared away. We are proud that we remembered to bring umbrellas, but of course we leave them in the back seat of the car. We will regret this.
We are well aware that we cannot take pictures near the resort casino, but we plan to run totally amok within the mall and its surroundings. We befriend the man who appears to be head of security and with his blessing we duck into nooks and crannies that we'd otherwise be too scared to explore.
The mall is mostly full of middle-aged tourists and "casino types." They avoid us and are polite when we block their access to brutally expensive posh-stores. One older man walks up to me and shouts "What happened to your skirt? THE FRONT IS GONE!" but before we can be friendly we are interrupted by yet another security guard, who is feeling us out.
We go outside and begin to walk around the mall. It's beautiful! From a distance I get my picture taken with both the American and Canadian falls (another goal achieved!) The Canadian side is WAY prettier. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the war of 1812 was fought entirely due to falls-jealousy.
Then, thunder. We have become very accustomed to thunder this summer...but I'm standing outside in a fragile dress and Jenn is carting around a ton of very expensive camera gear. Terrified, we rush back to the mall.
12:30 am: It is POURING. We sit in the food court and watch the rain. As I said previously, we'd left our umbrellas in the car, which is a five-minute walk away.
We hatch a devious plan. We walk through the resort's parking garage until we find the exit which we assume is closest to our parking lot, and then Jenn darts out the door to get her car while I huddle in the stairwell and guard her stuff. I realize that the door is identical to all the other doors on that side of the building, and also that I don't remember what Jenn's car looks like, and I don't have her phone number, and that this was a really silly idea.
Then Jenn pulls up and we drive away; she is soaked, I am not.
1:00 pm: Sensing how much I want to take the restrictive "bumblebee" outfit off, Jenn pulls into a covered parking garage behind a hotel and I jump out to get changed. The rain is pouring down. I strip to my underwear just in time for a bunch of tourists to wander into the parking lot with me. Then a car pulls in. The tourists and the car shuffle back and forth as I crouch, virtually naked, waiting for them to sort their crap out and go away.
Finally we are back on the Queen Elizabeth Way and we are heading home.
1:30 pm: The black clouds descend and the traffic slows to a crawl.
Due to an evil brew of construction, weather, car accidents, and the other people's desire to interfere with our shit, our next ninety minutes on the QEW are spent in impenetrable gridlocked traffic, inching forward mile after mile. Then a truly fearsome hailstorm reduces visibility to nil, which is particularly terrifying when you're stuck on the Garden City Skyway. Jenn pushes us through one jam and into the next; we struggle, we fight.
3:00 pm: When the weather clears we are still creeping along the QEW...but we no longer recognize the landmarks. We wonder why the hell we're driving through Oakville. When we start to see "Airport" and "Mississauga" signs our worst suspicions are confirmed: during the storms we missed a crucial turn-off into Hamilton, and spent an hour DRIVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
My mind snaps. I am being driven through a strange area, very far from home, and I am in drag. That alone would be fine except that my face is steadily disintegrating and I have no "boy clothes." I cannot (or rather will not) exit the car in this stage of degeneration, and we've ALREADY spent hours driving in the car...it will take at least another hour to get us back, and we are getting perilously close to rush hour (which would add an ADDITIONAL hour to our journey).
In the face of my emotional-mental meltdown, Jenn is the rational one. We stop and get directions, which are: follow Winston-Churchill Boulevard until we hit the 401. It's a long way home from there but at least we KNOW that area.
Making the best of it, we turn around and resume our journey.
4:20 pm: Home at last. I greet the cat, wash my decaying face, and happily look forward to seeing the pictures we took (you'll see them as part of the next Daily Muffy, if you're interested). I am suddenly cold and I huddle up under the covers, reading Morley Callaghan short stories and enjoying my return to stability.
I realize that the horrific drive home has almost completely wiped out my memory of what we did in Niagara Falls. Thank goodness we'll have pictures to remind us!