Veronica Lord and the Adventure of the Black-Eyed Susan
You may remember the glammoratzi, modesto Veronica Lord from the initial post of Big-Hair Bazooka (The Adventures of a candy-pink linen jumpsuit). Today, we bop straight into 1989 – the last year of the Diva Decade – where Veronica Lord was actually twenty-two, but still having teenaged escapades beneath hair big enough to rival the red in her Pizza Hut gingham uniform.
To say Veronica Lord was immature is too simple. She was a lamb in wolf’s clothing that had been fumigated by too much hair product – it had stunted the growth of her single maturity cell.
This particular night in mid ’89, Veronica Lord had a (sort of) date. She was in her final year of university, working part time at a pizza place and as many hours again in a gymnasium. Veronica rocked the house of the aerobics room, sometimes doing sessions so strenuous, a strand of her hair would come adrift from the sticky substance hardening it into a wedge. She supervised weight training. She had been known to help a lifter unclasp the bottom of her fashionable earrings during a bench press movement, or peel off a male member’s (that’s gym member’s) mesh gloves from his sweaty hands prior to a workout.
*sigh* Such was the busy and important life of Veronica Lord, late 80s gym worker.
Her potential date was a gymnasium member. Veronica eyed him from the moment she first saw his short-sided hair and the conservative longer strands on top of his head. She admired his NON-lycra workout gear and his zero tolerance for satin, mesh, blue eyeshadow and mascara for men.
Perhaps he wasn’t a typical 80s boy, but Veronica was in aerobics heaven (that’s where one goes and there is no perfectly-built instructor and the exercise consists of licking chocolate instead of stepping Reebok™)
When her colleague James mentioned this gymnasium member was also coming to the university ball – he had mutual friends, so he was attending due to group dynamics – Veronica could hardly breathe. Then she realized her own leotard had shrunk in the wash . . .
but I digress.
Veronica grew to know this attractive gymnasium member – Dougray Lyons – very well over the next few weeks. She found reason to chat with him, correct him on his lifting technique (it was her job, ffs!) and palpate various muscles that she needed to assess on his body. This isn’t entirely true. Neither Veronica Lord nor Dougray Fallop touched inappropriately during the initial stages of their courtship.
Eventually, the week of the ball did arrive. Atypically, Veronica knew what she was going to wear days before the special night, selecting a VERY glamourous, satiny royal blue dress from her overflowing wardrobe. Veronica was extra excited. This very dress shaped into her knees and sat very much like the bottom of a balloon. She was thrilled – butch, but thrilled.
Dougray was going to be blown away, having only ever seen Veronica in her gymnasium uniform or her aerobics leotard and leggins.
Alas. A tragedy occurred! Seventy-two hours before The Ball, Veronica Lord contracted an acute form of gastroenteritis and all the trajectories that go with that illness. She was abed. So many friends called – um, perhaps two or three – asking about her ability to make The Ball. Dougray (would have) enquired about her at the gym when he noticed she wasn’t working because she had discussed meeting him at the event. If Veronica hadn’t been so ill, she would have been sick to the stomach with what was happening.
After consulting with her mother – O’meh Lord – she decided she would be well enough to go, and by the time the day rolled around, she was up and about, planning on seducing Dougray with pallor alone.
This is where Laura Lord came into play. Veronica’s sister was ace with the makeup. The more foundation, the better. The thicker the coating of blue eye shadow was, the more fulfilled Laura Lord felt, the more Elizabeth Arden™ rouge, the more magic the glow. Laura Lord didn’t believe in moderation. She had work to do. She had Veronica Lord in the bathroom four hours before The Ball and supervised everything from eyebrow shaping to small deposits of silver glitter to the temples.
Finally, Veronica Lord was ready. She was resplendent.
A taxi was called and Veronica departed, waving to O’meh and Laura in thanks for their work to prepare her gasto-ravaged body for ball attendance. To their credit, they had done an almighty job. In reality, Veronica Lord was so scrumptious in her blue satin balloon dress that she didn’t need their help.
She let them pretend her glamour was all their doing. That’s the kind of person Veronica is in the fictional world.
Upon arrival at The Ball, Veronica Lord immediately sought out Dougray. He looked pleased to see her and Veronica heard later that he really only attended because he knew she was going to be there. She was feeling pretty damn good about herself. She chatted to friends, had one drink. Laughed and danced and flirty with Dougray, had two drinks, maybe three. Had a teeny-tiny 80s hors d’œuvre . . . had another drink . . .
and that’s when Veronica Lord’s Ball world came crashing, smashing down.
God, she was ill! She spent moments in the female convenience that extended into minutes that sweated into an hour. The room spun. She could hear the best music in the background, but she simply sat. In the toilet, blue-balloon legs sprawled, holding her head.
Friends tried to move her. Eventually they did. She’d been sick, she reminded them, she still wasn’t right! As they flanked her and escorted her from the scene of her squalor, she found Dougray Lyons preparing to leave with her in a taxi. He had his coat in hand and a worried expression on his face.
‘Please. You stay,’ she implored, preparing to jump in a cab with three other people she didn’t know! Just to get home! She needed home. BED. She was going to be sick. Soon. Very soon.
He did stay. And Veronica was relieved. She fled The Ball feeling worse than the inside of a pumpkin would do if it was thrust into a glass slipper. She refrained from being ill on the trio of peeps she was sharing a taxi with, the inside of the car and the gutter by her family home. She was quiet as she walked the path to her front door, and reaching inside her handbag – it was pretty and dainty, much like Veronica Lord was not – she realized two things:
She had forgotten her house key. She had been at The Ball for just on two hours. It was precisely 9pm.
Pausing on the verandah, a wave of nausea overcame her and she wondered whether to alert O’meh she was home and seek immediate refuge in the bathroom, or sit outside on the lawn until dawn. In the end, she turned to her father’s Black-Eyed Susan plant for release and comfort, finding it conveniently positioned to assist a sick, satin-dressed woman.
After knocking at the door and ignoring O’meh Lord’s look of restrained omfg!disgust, Veronica Lord walked down the long hallway of her parent’s house, slinking along the length of one wall for support.
Twenty years on in this fictitious world? The Black-Eyed Susan would still be in the same place, and it has never needed fertilizing to assist its astonishing bloom year after year.