The fact that Christian Siriano went to prom with my longtime babysitter has NOTHING to do with how much I enjoyed leafing through this book. (It has everything to do with why I picked it up in the first place though - we miss you Marci! Hope they show Buffy on TV in Ecuador!)
Although the book is for the most part obviously written by a professional, and liberally studded with grating catchphrases that I'm sure are a lot more charming in person (if I never hear the phrase "hot mess" again I will weep not a single tear), there is plenty of real Christian in here. He lists Subway and T.G.I. Friday among his favorite places to eat, advises all women to wear heels all the time, and still has a place in his heart for Saved by the Bell. What do you think - was this tiny, marvelous, gay suburban Maryland kid a Screech or a Zack?
He also thanks my friend Kristen in the Acknowledgments - she teaches jewelry making where he and Marci went to high school. (And about those catchphrases? He provides a glossary: "I call everyone 'lady' because everyone has that inner lady who needs to wear full-length gloves and a bird hat." Here's where I shake my head and have to admit he has a point.)
I love his Manly List of Manly Things to Do: he advises buying a flannel shirt "red plaid only," buying a wallet, or playing a sport, like throwing a frisbee around in the park and then getting a frozen yogurt "with fun toppings!". At the end of the list he confesses "Okay, so apparently this is as manly-man as I get. I tried!" You have to appreciate a fellow who knows his strengths.
This. This is his strength.
In between the pictures of glamorous women and glamorous Siriano gowns (see above, the glamorous but non-model-sized Christina Hendricks, in a glamorous Siriano gown at the glamorous Golden Globes - designers who can dress non-model-sized people get my particular respect, and in this instance I venture to say the ex Mrs. Malcolm Reynolds has NEVER had her fabulous assets clad to such advantage) and snips of style advice from Tim Gunn, Vanessa Williams, Heidi Klum, and Whoopi Goldberg (of all people), there is advice about coping with disappointment and depression, finding your creative voice, and, of course, about making things work for you when you are just a little bit not like everybody else. I know a ton of teenagers who could benefit from the practical, hardworking, slightly self-indulgent advice in this book.
I picture Christian Siriano eighty years old, still tiny, still peering through his pushed-down glasses with that look of terrified resolve. He always looks like he knows damn well the situation calls for a suit and he is showing a flamenco dress, and if that flamenco dress isn't the most heart-stopping thing anyone has ever seen he is TOAST. Lucky for him, that flamenco dress is ALWAYS heart-stopping. At eighty, he will still be surrounded by towering, beautiful women, women hoping he will work his vision upon their bodies - the Valentino of the twenty-first century.
I kind of hope he will have stopped calling everyone "tranny" by then, though!