What's a girl to do if she's in the middle of a crazy football town on game day, is excited about Arabian Nights opening on Tuesday, and whose friend has just discovered the existence of Kimberly Roberts, a henna artist who works on Fridays starting at 10 AM at Worldwide Fashion & Gifts at 1375 Prince Avenue, Athens, GA?
Guys, it was awesome. Almost every single girl in our cast showed up to get henna tattoos, both Friday and Saturday. We didn't go all out and get so decorated we look like we're wearing gloves, but everyone has some really gorgeously decorated hands with different twining flowers--and this is the coolest part; Kimberly freestyled everything without needing to talk to us so much beforehand so that she knew us down to the deep bottoms of our souls, and the results were baffling: each girl ended up with a design that matched her personality uncannily well, to the extent that one girl really loves lotus flowers, and another sunflowers--guess what ended up on their hands? Exactly! It was pretty darn cool. And our timing was fortuitous--I learned today that Friday was their first day experimenting with the Henna Fridays, and miraculously that happened just in time for our Tuesday night opening! (Thank heavens henna lasts two weeks or so.)
Being the slightly exacting dork that I am, I actually came with pictures. I'm the only girl in the play who consistently wanders around in a state of moderate undress (well, a belly dancing outfit), and I spend a decent amount of time watching stories and alternately watching the king in a stricken little lovelorn state, all with my right shoulder to the audience, so that shoulder has a gorgeous design going all the way down the arm, and it's stunning.
And, having a penchant for history, especially when it comes to costume/makeup history, I asked a bunch of questions. Apparently, henna originated as a cooling agent: you press a dot of the paste in each palm and under the sole of each foot, and it cools you down. Gradually, this extended to the breathtakingly gorgeous and intricate designs that you see all over Indian brides today. And that tradition is pretty cool, too, and waaaay more involved than a bachelorette party: traditionally, the bride is taken to her husband's family's house a few days before the wedding, and up to two days are spent doing the henna on her hands and feet. And during this time, the bride doesn't even dress herself, but everything is done for her, as sort of a welcome to the family and also a chance for her to sit still and listen to advice about how to be a good wife and the ins and outs of marriage. Ever so much more dignified than showing up on a rerun of Bridezillas with vomit in your hair after the bachelorette party.
Kimberly explained that henna is made of the crushed leaves of the henna bush (well, flowering shrub), and you mix the powder with an acid and an oil to make the paste. Usually, lemon juice is the acid, but she said you could even use coffee. The type of oil changes the color and intensity of the final product. The paste dries quickly, but to prevent it from flaking off immediately, you either add sugar into the paste or you spray it with lemon juice mixed with sugar, which makes it more pliable. (Lemonade. My shoulder still smells like lemonade. I wanted to eat my own shoulder, guys.)
So all the paste has come off now, and as promised, it is quite a bit darker around my fingers than it is on my shoulder. But within the next three days it should turn brown, and in the few hours before the show I can even go back and get different kinds of glitter put on! I have my eye on some gold and some opalescent glitter, which would look spectacular with our gold-based makeup designs, but she's got everything from red to pink to blue to lots of other colors, and the glitter lasts about three days. We'll see if I have time, but I really hope I do.
By the way, can you see those earrings in the first picture of me? They're spectacular: gorgeous designs in red and silver for $18 at Worldwide Fashion & Gifts. Thank heavens my school colors are red and black, because they had an amazing array of jewelry to match my costume...
Plus they have everything from zillers to bellydance outfits to really cute dresses and shirts that you can wear daily! If you're in the area, go check it out. Prices are really reasonable and it's definitely worth your time! And the bar next door, Normal Bar, has a drop-dead-awesome Bloody Mary that's practically a meal in itself. They make their own tomato mix, they make the okra pickles that near knocked my socks off, they were so good (and this coming from a girl who cannot stand okra!), they add a fresh olive, a huge lime wedge, small squares of celery, and a huge pepperoncini. It's spicy, it's got a decent amount of vodka in it, you can drink it at the picnic table in the back with a lot of really friendly staffers from several restaurants on that side of the street, and you can do all of this while getting your henna tattoos done. What an unbelievable afternoon!
Call 706-208-9915 to set up an appointment for a henna session, according to the Facebook page. Better yet, get a group of your friends together and do it as a group! We invaded Kimberly's life like a horde of fawning kittens and there were so many of us that she had to come back on Saturday to finish up our group, and she was brilliantly kind throughout both sessions.
Munched on snow pea pods for a snack this evening instead of actual chips. Mmmmm....sweet, crunchy, and refreshing. Awesome alternative!