no eggs, no basket

I wouldn't say I've spent the last 3 years on any kind of "scene," unless you call a working knowledge of the PBS Kids universe a "scene." If so, then I am a Dinosaur Train Club Rat. Daniel Tiger is my JAM!

I can count on two hands the number of times I've worn high heels in the last three years, and not one of those occasions was one in which I would have called myself "tarted up." No, I didn't rock a leather minidress and gallons of eyeliner at the casual Christmas party, or on a date night to see Anthony Bourdain, or a trip to the opera with a close girlfriend.

Don't worry - I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm used to my invisibility now. I'm even comforted by my superficial sexlessness when I buy mangoes at Trader Joe's, two little boys in tow. Ain't nobody grinding up on me at Day Out with Thomas the Train. I do not worry about the heavy-lidded barista slipping something in my Americano at Starbucks.

You're talking to a girl who had to start wearing a bra at 11. I tried to close my shoulders like a bird in a storm when the gray-stubbled long-haul trucker at the gas station licked his lips and blew me a kiss, the summer before 8th grade.

Sure, sometimes I miss the validation of an automatic over-the-shoulder butt-check when I walk by. But for the most part I'm relieved I'm not a hot piece.

I just got back from a weekend in Vegas where I was relieved when the roving bands of greased-up, Axe-sprayed, boner-tucked dudes paid me no mind. 

that's right
just
keep on floatin there
dude
bro
i saw some girls
with henna tattoos
and 40-ounce daquiri cups
just around the bend
go
go to them

My maxi dresses and wedding ring might as well have been a Maryknoll Nun's habit and crucifix. It was so great, to be left alone. Except sometimes when it wasn't.

For most of my life, I kept all of my eggs in a "pretty" basket, because I got a shitload of feedback on how important it was to be pretty. I will never forget the time when, in the middle of an eye-stabbingly dull conversation, a frat guy said, "it's a good thing you're hot, because otherwise nobody would ever want to talk to you. You're not really, you know, fun or interesting."

I said, "wow" and walked away as I bit my cheek and wished I were the kind of person who would say, "maybe you're the boring one, you dick," or throw a drink in his face. I felt so sad, but not because he'd called me boring. The sad thing? I secretly agreed with him. Exhibit A: he brutally cut me halfway down to the ground, and I voluntarily shrunk the rest of the way. I wasn't that smart compared to a lot of smart people. I wasn't that funny compared to a lot of funny people. But I could hike my boobs up and make new friends all night long. As they say, anyone can kick down a door. To get to some boobs.

But at some point, when I moved to New York and accepted that I was, if not an ugly duckling, at least a three-beers-pretty chipmunk, I moved all of my eggs, every single one, from the pretty basket to the interesting basket. I don't regret that move. I chose to let pretty go. There is no universe in which I'd rather be dumb and cute.

But a funny thing happened when I stopped gauging my worth by my appearance... I started to think my appearance was worthless.

I should have been thinking, "it doesn't matter if I look good, because I am a good and interesting person." But instead I've been thinking, "good thing I'm an interesting person, because I do not look good."

Sometime in the days since I decided that there were more important things than turning heads, I started to believe that I have to be interesting, because pretty is no longer an option.

That frat guy is still in my head, only this time he's saying, "it's a good thing you're funny and interesting because nobody would want to talk to you otherwise. You're not really, like, hot." God, I wish I knew his name. I would totally find him on Facebook and sign him up for taxidermy catalogues and erectile dysfunction newsletters.

There comes a time in every woman's life, or at least the time has come in this woman's life, when she looks in the mirror and says, "well shit. I have to start drinking more water." As if dehydration were the culprit, rather than time, just time, just days and years pulling bits of beauty down to the ground to lie like dust in our footprints.

The thing is, it's those days and years that make us so much fucking better than we were - funny, smart, strong, irreverent, bold, and yes, last and least, a little sad when we catch the first glimpse of the empty skin that hangs from our arms. Oh god... My grandmother has that.

And if my days and years have helped me to become anything, it's more aware of the inconsistency of identity and personality. Now more than ever I know how dangerous it is to try to cram your whole personality into one trait, to place all your eggs in one basket. Imagine if Michael Jordan felt that he were only a person of worth so long as he was the best basketball player in the world. I'll tell you one thing, the world would be a little bit sadder without those Hanes Tagless Tee commercials.

It was funny being in Las Vegas because even though I'm old enough to know better, the impulse to impress strangers lives deep and hard, a tulip bulb defying the frost to emerge through the cracked Earth at the first hint of sun. All it took was a bachelor party in suits and white smiles, and I sat up like a well-trained cocker spaniel. Hey! Here! Me! I'm still pretty! Right? Guys? Guys?


guys?


Walking through the casino at midnight on Saturday I felt a little schizophrenic. Simultaneous, contradictory thoughts wove a broken pattern in my head:

Those guys are so cute. I wonder if they think I'm cute.
It doesn't matter if they think you're cute.
I'm not cute anymore. And that's okay.
I'm not cute anymore. I'm really sad.
Is it over?
It's not over.
You should smile at them.
Don't smile at them.
You should see if you can get one of them to buy you a drink.
Girl, this is Vegas. Ain't no cute guy dropping $26 on a cocktail for a married mother of two in a burka.
God, I don't miss this.
God, I miss this.
Those girls look skanky.
Thank God I don't look skanky.
I wish I looked a little skanky.

I still care about how I look. I care enough, at least, to put on a hat if Chicken looks at me and says, "you've got scary hair, Mommy." I care enough to make sure that my shoes match and that my shirt mostly fits. Some people might call those efforts habitual for a functioning adult, but the only habits I call my own these days are for caffeine and putting my hand over the pointy edge of the table when I can tell Buster is about to stand up.

So I can't say whether I try because I still yearn to be pretty, or I try because I have a scrap of self-respect left after the great Target-pants-wetting of aught-nine.

Regardless, it takes effort to reach par on pretty these days, and I am simultaneously sad, and far too busy to wallow now that Buster has discovered that the "lock" on the snack cupboard is just a piece of painter's tape.

he called my bluff
crafty, that one
and highly motivated
by cheddar bunnies
also
just in case you were wondering
i already tried
two pieces of tape

Thank God for my kids. Thanks to them I can adopt a preemptive nonchalance when it comes to opting out of the unofficial hot-or-not-off that is the life of a woman.

Listen, I'm not a 10. Obviously. But you should know that I'm aware of my rank. I have gracefully stepped aside, to allow cuter buns than mine to beautify the world and make your day. I have two kids and give no fucks. 

Also I write a blog with, like, seriously 25 readers now. I have more important things to do than squats and my hair.

The best part? I believe me. I'm about ready to lose those eggs, and those baskets. I'm done being one thing. Nobody is just one thing, least of all me.

It's a good thing I'm a mom, because...



Oh shit.

2 comments:

  1. I know you aren't looking for affirmation (because we've grown out of needing that right? RIGHT?!), but your blog is hilarious--I read it and have zero children--and the little bits of poetry are great. Keep writing. Plus you're still hot, dude, all 25 of us saw that bikini pic.

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    Replies
    1. TOTALLY. You are one of my hottest friends. And I live in LA, so that's saying something.

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