Dressing the Part – Corsets, Torture, & Voyeuristic Pirates

October 26, 2011

Song of the Day: Pain by Three Days Grace

The woman, a complete stranger, left me winded, dizzy. Like a thief, she stole my breath away and along with it, my good sense. Reining me into her designs armed with nothing more than a scrap of leather.

What’s this all about?

Since my passion is writing fun, steamy, adventuresome pirate romances, I’ve been toying with the idea of dressing the part – for appearances and book signings, of course. Last week, I visited a boutique, The Spotted Pony, in historic Old Town Spring. The shop specializes in Renaissance and pirate paraphernalia, including authentic clothing. Its proprietor is a saucy sort, old enough to be my grandmother and sharp of tongue. She was eager to help me once I explained why I was shopping in her unique store. In hindsight, she might have been too eager.

She produced a leather corset from behind the counter. An investment, she insisted. Now, I recently lost 40 pounds, but when she said the corset was a size 30 in the waist, I laughed. She suggested it was too big. I disagreed considering I couldn’t get the damned thing to latch around my ribcage. I wondered if I might have peeved the woman for chuckling as she slapped down on the counter a corset the next size smaller. She was either a witchy woman ready to deliver spite upon me or a tarot card short of a complete deck.

She had me unlace the corset while she rang out another customer. When I misunderstood and removed the laces instead, she chastised me with a wag of her finger and the shake of her head. Hey, in my defense, I write about taking these things off, not putting them on.

I followed her to the not-so-private dressing room. Ironically, I shared the space with a life-size cutout of Will Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean. Not that I minded. After finally attaching the first button (I swear it took five whole minutes!), I was drenched in sweat. Oh, but we had only just begun.

The crazy proprietor tells me to turn around so she can lace me up. Tugging away, she tells me she has arthritis and may not be able to tighten the corset completely. Really? Imagine, if you will, the scene in Gone With The Wind with Mammy lacing Scarlett’s corset. All that yanking and cringing … I’m holding onto the door jam, giggling like a crazed fool, as the lunatic conducts torture with her arthritic hands. I half expected her to brace her foot against the wall for leverage as hard as she pulled. It’s all fun and games until someone cracks a rib.

All blood flow had been cut off to my brain, my vision blurred with the spinning of the room. Breathing had become a luxury and came only in short gasps. Good grief, by the time she was done, my boobs, which is one of my better assets, were eye level. I needed mirrors and a guide dog to walk across the room. No doubt the contraption was created by a man. Speaking of which, this is when I noticed the twenty-something man lingering by the same racks he’d been browsing before we started this cruel and unusual punishment. Hmm…

Perfect! the delightfully batty shopkeeper claimed. The lack of oxygen must have caused a momentary lapse in reasoning because I agreed. I bought the “investment”.

The things we do for our craft.

Have you ever dressed the part for your stories or bought something to help inspire you? Let me hear from you, but speak up. I can’t hear you over this heavy breathing.