I was eyeballed by a famous editor in chief on my beauty way out of the building, which didn't exactly increase my confidence about taking my costume to the streets. But once outside, most people just gave long once-overs. A few pulled out their phone for a photo. To my surprise, I found myself greeting total strangers with uncharacteristic friendliness.
Nothing really surprises New Yorkers–and that doesn't really surprise me.
I walked from my office building to Central Park to reenact one of my favorite scenes–Belle reading a book by the fountain. Aside from a few more stares, people mostly ignored me. Nothing really surprises New Yorkers–and that doesn't really surprise me. Although, I did hear "Congratulations!" on more than a few occasions, and one guy asked me and my photographer if he could give us a carriage ride to the courthouse. To get married, I think? Strangely enough, multiple people throughout the day thought it was a wedding dress.
I grabbed a coffee at the local Starbucks and told them to put "Belle" on the cup. The barista didn't even blink. A very handsome man complimented my outfit, and when I asked if he recognized it, said, "Of course!" In regular-person clothes, I never would have said a word, but in my daffodil-yellow dress, I was ready for any Prince Charming who might appear.
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I had some difficulty fitting my dress through the subway turnstyle, and I took up about three seats when I was finally settled. An elderly woman started conspicuously taking photos of me. "Thank you!" she said, "It's not everyday you see this on the subway. I'm sending it to my friends in Seattle! New York is so different!"
Next stop: Times Square. After rather tepid reactions elsewhere, I was positive I'd impress the tourists. While most little kids were (disappointingly) unmoved, one woman walked up to me asking me what country I was from. "Your dress looks like the traditional outfit from Kazakhstan, my country!" she shared excitedly. When I told her I was actually dressed as a Disney princess–she didn't recognize the reference.
"HEY I KNOW YOU! YOU'RE THE BEAUTY FROM BEAUTY AND THE BEAST!" another Times Square dweller hollered at me a few moments later. Another guy asked to congratulate―the wedding thing, again. Someone "proposed" to me. One man, weirdly, gifted both me and my photographer two lollipops. (We threw them out.)
Meanwhile, two police officers assumed it was my birthday. I told one of them I was wearing it "just because." "Go 'head girl! Have fun," she replied.
My happiest moment of the day, was when I ran into a little 4-year-old girl named Reese in the subway. I was walking down the stairs as she and her father were walking up and she was immediately enamored. "I like your dress," she shyly told me, touching the organza skirt. "She's a little scared of tunnels," her dad told me, "But see, Reese? You never know, you might just run into a princess."
If I started the day with something like unease, I ended it with something like euphoria. Everyone I met seemed a little bit happier after encountering this sunshiny explosion of a dress. I had people laughing. I had people smiling. I waved at strangers on a tour bus as they barreled through Times Square. I greeted strangers I'd ignore on a regular day. At the end of the day, the dress went back in my closet. But, my attitude had shifted just a bit—as the Beauty and the Beast song goes, "there may be something there that wasn't there before." You're really never too old to play dress-up it seems.
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