Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Clothing and Cross-Dressing

There are great road trips and great road trip movies, but probably the one film that comes closest to the ambitions of the Mongol Rally is The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. A lively story of three drag queens making their way across Australia’s outback in search of fame and fortune. Perhaps the most iconic scene is Guy Pearce lip-synching to Violetta’s aria “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata in a silver sequin jumpsuit and trailing banner. Not only does this scene make you want to sing along, but for anyone planning to drive for weeks over vast expanses of nothingness it makes you pause and consider what clothing essentials are actually needed for the trip. While I’m not suggesting that a full cross-dressing wardrobe is necessarily the way to go (we simply won’t have the space in our micro-car that they had in Priscilla), thought must be given beyond fleece and woolly socks. Sartorial splendor isn’t expected – practical minimalism is. Like the old army joke about the soldiers marching for weeks across the Sahara and the captain tells the men that he has some good news, everyone will be getting a change of underwear…Hodges, you change with Smythe, Smythe you change with Perkins, etc., we have low expectations. Yet we have read of rallyists taking detours to local weddings and would like to be prepared for every eventuality. The challenge is over packing is the norm when car camping. That’s why you take a car – so you don’t have to think about how much excess crap you’re stuffing away and never going to use. One way of limiting baggage bloat is to agree on a single grab-all of a given size while still ensuring there’s enough room for the inevitable souvenirs collected along the way (and since the car is staying in Mongolia we will still be limited to what we can carry on the airplane). Layering seems to be the order of the day. Experienced advice tells us we’ll have to prepare for every kind weather, from blazing heat to snowstorms. Out go the 16” platforms and in come one pair of hiking shoes with sufficient traction to pull a car out of the mire. Sunscreen not Wo-Man and eye drops not eye liner. This will be tough duty…

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