Category Archives: Girlie Girls

Odds and Ends

First, happy Fourth of July to anyone who feels like celebrating it. Here in Boston, we’ve had absolutely perfect summer weather all weekend, so I feel like I’ve won the weather lottery. Perhaps it’s because we spent most of the spring in cold rain. The rain we needed; the cold, not so much — I really didn’t need to see that my heating bill for May and June looked a lot like March and April. I don’t live in the far north; heating bills in June are simply wrong. But the weather has been so lovely and uplifting lately, I may actually throw myself into the Boston fireworks fray tomorrow. Or I’ll just watch them from my driveway. We’ll see…

Second, I’ve been collecting photos from my commuting travels that have made me giggle. Maybe you will, too.

The Tank

I learned to drive with what we lovingly called The Merc or The Tank, our 1968 Mercury station wagon with fake wood side paneling. It was the perfect car for a new driver because you could back into anything without getting a scratch. Except a fire hydrant, but I swear, dad, that wasn’t me. Someone must have hit me in the parking lot. Rude bastards. The Merc’s other claims to fame were the gas tank falling out while my sister and brother were waiting at a stop light, and the frame rusting clean through during one of my drives. Other than that, it could hold all my friends and was totally awesome. Those are just fond memories though, right? I mean none of those italicized words above even exist anymore. Or do they…?

I saw this in Boston, near North Station a few months ago. As far as I could tell, it had its gas tank intact. The ghost just adds to the “car of teen years past” moment.

ab_merc

Follow the Guy with the Black Briefcases

There must have been a 70’s vibe in the air, because not long after spotting the Merc, I saw this guy on the train. Who has two of the exact same cases, the perfect size to carry money or diamonds? What else could they be? Seriously, these are the “mistaken identity” suitcases of any 70s detective show or heist movie. You know, one has the diamonds that were stolen in a meticulously planned jewelry store heist, or, alternately, the priceless Queen of Sheba Black Diamond stolen from the Museum of Easily Lifted Artifacts. The other suitcase is usually owned by a hapless woman with lots of granny underwear and nighties. Hilarity ensues when the robbers grab her suitcase instead of the diamond-laden one. And she wonders how she’s going to sleep in diamonds. What I couldn’t decide was if this guy was one the of the original thieves who locked the lady in the closet and grabbed both suitcases to open at a secret location. Or was he the surprise third character who is also after the diamonds and locks up the thieves and the woman in the closet together. I decided it wasn’t worth risking getting thrown off the train or stuffed in a closet to get a closer look at him, so we’ll never know.

 

ab_switchedsuitcases

The Dancing Shoes

So this one was on my walk to the train, actually not far from the place where I found Barbie’s walk of shame dress on the sidewalk. It certainly is a lively neighborhood. I walked by these for a couple of days, and they reminded me of the fairy tale, “The Dancing Shoes.” In the story 12 princesses are locked in their room at night with new dancing shoes (they were always locking up the women back then) but in the morning their beautiful shoes are all danced to pieces. Sounds like a good time to me. The king can afford to replace them, but he doesn’t like not knowing what his daughters are up to. So he decrees anyone who can find out what’s going on gets to marry one of the daughters and gets the kingdom when the king dies. However, if you try to find out and fail, your head gets cut off. Pretty high stakes and the princesses gleefully drug all of the arrogant princes who try to find out, and they sleep the whole night away. Royal heads are rolling. A humble, injured soldier meets an old women, who essentially sells out the princesses by telling him not to drink the wine they offer him. And she gives he an invisible cloak so he can follow them! I guess girl power wasn’t a thing yet. I mean c’mon, all they are doing is dancing and wearing out shoes. How terrible, they must be stopped! So of course he follows them, and discovers they have been hanging out with 12 princes from an underground kingdom and dancing the night away. But the jig is up, the oldest has to marry him and her sisters were “condemned to be placed under a spell of enchantment for as many days as they had danced nights with the princes.” You’d like to hope that in 2017, the three princes/princesses/generally fun people who owned these shoes fared better.

ab_dancing princesses

Beauty’s Where You Find It

This is also on my walk to the train. Some of the walk is classic urban grit, like this rusty fence and broken stone wall that’s part of a bridge. The train goes underneath it, and the road is busy, and it’s near the airport, so right at this point I’ve forgotten about dancing princesses and absorbing the trains, planes, and automobile ambiance.

ab_rustywalk

But then when I take a few more steps , I come upon this:

ab_sweetpeas

A riotous symphony of color of totally wild sweet peas. Perfect.

 

Flashback

This week I had a flashback to when my kid was a baby. He is now an 18-year-old senior, and even with teenager shenanigans, I’d still rather have a teen than a baby. Babies turned out to be not so much my thing, and you won’t see me hanging creepily around families with babies, staring too long. If I’m hanging around, it will be for some other completely different creepy reason.

But that’s another blog post.

So there I was Friday afternoon, focused solely on my offspring, making sure he was packed for our overnight trip to visit a college for accepted student day. Yes, we’re on the home stretch of Collegepalooza, and I love the dean who said while polling the kids about the other colleges they were deciding on, “And how many of you can’t decide and are driving your parents crazy?” My kid raised his hand. See? Better than a baby.

I had already packed, so my stuff was in the car. I asked a few more “Did you bring your [fill in the blank]” questions and it seemed we were ready.  We were going to stop at my sister’s house for dinner as a driving break and then drive for another hour or so and head to a hotel near the college. This was my attempt to recover from the previous week’s accepted student day at a college closer to home. It turns out you can shave 30 minutes off the drive time in Boston if it’s a Sunday morning. Since I try never to be awake early Sunday morning, this is not something I would know. And now that I do know I don’t have to wake up at 6:30 am on Sunday, I was hell-bent on not doing that again. So, we were booked at a hotel well within roll-out-of-bed-grab-coffee-and-get-to-the-event distance.

So on Friday, I did a last check in on the kid, he grabbed his driving learner’s permit, I had my coffee in hand, glanced around the house for anything being obviously forgotten, and did the little mantra, “Well, whatever we forgot, we’ll just buy another one,” and off we went. As I was overly pleased with my cleverness, it wasn’t until we were two hours into the trip that I realized what I forgot.

My wallet.

I don’t carry a purse because I find them annoying. Also the name is stupid, second only to pocketbook. If the garment industry would actually make all women’s clothes with pockets, we wouldn’t even need the darn things. In the winter, I mostly use what my friend calls a coat purse. I put the three things I need — phone, keys and wallet — in the pockets of my coat. In summer, they go in my pants pockets, unless I’m wearing a cute sundress, and then I have compromised with a crossbody bag, which is absolutely not a purse. It fits only those three things, and if I’m feeling spatially up to it, I can squeeze in my sunglasses.

But on Friday, I had switched coats and as I was focused on my offspring, I’d left my own important thing in the old coat. This happened a lot to me when my kid was a baby. On trips I’d make sure he had everything he needed because the price for leaving behind the favorite toy, or the baby wipes, or the kid himself was rarely worth paying. The Department of family Services can be a real bitch about that kind of thing.

On the highway, I realized the only ID we had between us was the driving learner’s permit, which clearly stated it could not be used as a form of ID.

Now the real fun began. Do hotels ask for ID when you check in? I could recollect handing over my driver’s license and my credit card at a counter, but I couldn’t tell you in what circumstances that had occurred — the airport? Renting a car? Buying Sudafed? Were hotels in that mix? Then of course was the paying part. Would they take Apple Pay on my phone? Did I even know how to use Apple Pay on my phone? Did my sister have a couple hundred bucks in cash lying around I could borrow?

I called my sister and gave her the heads up. She did have cash, but other than that there wasn’t much we could do until I got to her house. When I did I called the hotel. The front desk person said they did accept cash (rather snootily declining to even answer the question about Apply Pay, I may add). However, that was moot because they needed an ID to check me in. That’s when I wondered, what do people who are sneaking around having an affair do? Losing all the dark outdoor spaces for secret trysts is bad enough, and now you have to identify yourself if you take it indoors. What is this world coming to?

The hotel woman did say they’d accept a photo of my ID if someone was at my house and could take a picture and send it to me. Somehow, that seemed even more stupid than requiring one in the first place. How serious is this requirement if you’ll accept a photo of a photo ID?

So I sat in a small puddle of self-pity for a few minutes, but then within the next hour, my sister had procured an airbed so we could sleep over, she had cash to give me and coffee, and the hotel didn’t charge me for canceling late — clearly the right thing to do since I was physically unable to check in, but the “right thing to do” and “payment policies” rarely rub up against each other, so I was grateful for that.

All that was left was not attracting any police attention and the fact that I had to do all the driving. I was pretty sure I’d be able to talk my way out of not having a licence if I got pulled over, but if my son got pulled over, with only one form of unacceptable ID between us,  we were pretty much toast. But I drove the speed limit, a novelty for sure, and no one did anything stupid near me on the road, also a novelty.

Sending a big thanks to my sister and the universe for getting us to where we needed to go. My kid still doesn’t know where he wants to go to school, but at least I know that next time, I’m letting him forget something.

 

I Need a Story

Post march last week, I smacked into a wall. The fast and furious issuing of Executive Orders set my head spinning like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. And while that was pretty bad, with enough meditation, denial, and wine, I can manage to block out most of it and hone in on the essential things I am able to take action on. The harder thing was having my infusion of hope from the march get diluted when a gentle, respectful comment from a dear friend reminded me I could be doing more to connect with and support women of color right now. It was that realization that smacked me into the wall — the Cheeto Satan nonsense had moved the wall pretty close to my head, but that I had let down a dear friend finished the job. I tried to write about it for this week’s blog, but that is going to take some time for me to process, so stay tuned.

So I kind of just mentally wandered around this week, staring into the distance. The emails pouring into my inbox to sign this and make these calls and announcing every minute detail of the Cheeto immobilized me, like a rabbit in the face of an oncoming car. Not even my ciggie-smoking, whiskey-shot-downing alter-ego Blanche could rouse me, though goodness knows she tried. By chance I had picked up a copy of Watership Down from the library. My sister and I both read it in high school and loved it. We even have nicknames for each other from the book. We were reminiscing about it at Christmas. If you haven’t read it, it’s a story about a small band of rabbits who leave their safe warren because one of them has a vision that something terrible is about to happen. They escape only to encounter many other difficult and dangerous situations, from crossing a river to encountering unfriendly rabbits, snarling cats, and wire traps. They manage to survive by using all the skills, cleverness, and strengths of the group. Not a bad reminder right about now.

I was curious to see if the book still holds up some 30 years later, and it totally does. In addition to giving me some respite from political and social onslaught, it also reminded me of the power of storytelling. Not just me reading the book, but in the story, there are a number of times when the rabbits, who are naturally nervous creatures, need help winding down from some dangerous situation or gathering their courage to face a difficulty. The leader rabbit calls for a story to settle the troops.

And so, to help ease myself away from the glaring, paralyzing headlights, I’m going to tell a story. It’s a funny story that doesn’t really have a moral, but it did take place in that hallowed time of the early 1980s, when we were slam dancing in clubs, trying to look like Madonna, and fighting for abortion rights thanks to Ronald Reagan. It reminds me that difficult things, good things, and funny things are always happening.

It was 1985, and by some miracle, my group of college friends in Boston found out there was going to be a 10th anniversary Halloween showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in New York. By miracle I mean this was pre-internet days, and so we probably learned about it in some crazy way like in a flyer, newspaper, or a magazine. Or maybe even a stone tablet. It was on a weeknight, and with the energy only a group of college kids can muster to find inventive ways to entertain themselves, we decided to go. We persuaded the only friend we knew who had a car to drive us. Andrea was from Columbia and asked for our help to buy a car, but all we’d really done was watch her with our mouths open while she paid cash for a brand new car, with nary a haggle. As I recall it was a red sporty thing that clearly needed a trip to NYC. So 6 of us piled into the car: Sonia, the cool black girl from the West Side; Michele, the super girly-girl Spanish chick from Brooklyn; Rosemary, the fashion punk from Buffalo; and Gloria and I who came from CT. Gloria was holding down the preppy fort, while I was a punk wannabe. In fact for this trip I dressed up like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from the show — black lace camisole, leather mini skirt, fishnet stockings, high heels, and lots of black eyeliner and dark lipstick.

We left in the late afternoon and headed south. At one point on the highway, a guy started honking at us and making rude gestures. We rolled our eyes and sucked our teeth at him, until one of us realized he was pointing down as if to have us look at something. When we finally did, we realized that Rosemary’s leather bag was half in the car and half out. A quick open and shut door while speeding along the highway retrieved her bag. It had a big hole worn through on the corner and a fair amount of the contents had spilled out. We resolved to not diss honking guys anymore. The next 4 hours passed mostly in the way you would expect from 6 college women, including that at one point several had to pee. We were trying to make it to the city in time for the show, so we hadn’t really planned on stopping. But Rosemary, Gloria, and Michelle couldn’t hold it anymore. The problem was we were kind of lost. GPS not even being a twinkle in anyone’s eye at that point, we could have used a map. But what losers bring a map on a fun road trip? We were off the highway on a deserted road that felt safe enough to pull off for peeing au natural. The rest of us waited what seemed like a short time when suddenly, Rosemary, Gloria, and Michelle tore open the door, jumped in an yelled, “Go, go, go!”

At this, poor Andrea was confused and started asking questions, and then worse, started trying to obey the red traffic light, even though there was no one on the road. We’d neglected to explain to her that when someone is chasing you, you hit the gas and worry about traffic rules later. When she finally understood what she was supposed to do and we were safely away, we found out that our friends had been rushed by a mean, barking dog, followed by a guy yelling to get out and carrying a gun. If that’s what you get for peeing, I don’t want to know what you’d get if you were actually going to steal something.

But being clueless and 20 years old has its benefits, including staying focused on the very important goal of getting to The  Rocky Horror Picture Show in NYC by midnight. Once we knew he was safely in our rear view mirror, we laughed at the crazy gun man and fretted over the traffic. We were cutting it close. We drove around NYC, got lost, yelled at the natives in the car for getting us lost, until finally, we found a place to park. We ran the multiple blocks to the show — we were only a little late. Panting and sweating, we arrived to discover…the showing was the following night. After a short discussion about blowing off school and staying until the next night, we did the next best 80s thing. Desperately Seeking Susan had recently come out, and we were obsessed with getting into the groove. One of the scenes was shot at a NYC club called Danceteria, so off we went. Because it was Halloween, the streets were filled with people in costume, and I fit right in. We had a blast at Danceteria, despite the fact that my friends wouldn’t let me make out with a guy who was dressed like a priest — I was a rebelling Catholic, what can I say? I finally took a break from dancing to go to the bathroom, and while I was in line, I looked down and noticed one of my boobs had fallen out of my camisole — this was waaaaay before any “wardrobe malfunction.” I’d like to credit New Yorkers with having seen everything and that was why no one batted an eye. That sounds much better than what may have been the real truth — my boobs were really too small to be noticeable in or out of a camisole.

So we danced until dawn and found a breakfast place to inhale the time-honored food of people who stay up all night–bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee. Tireless Andrea drove us home and we got back to Boston in time for my 8 am class; the only thing was that in the unforgiving, harsh light of early morning, with bleary eyes and smeared makeup, I looked like a vampire call girl. No way was I going to class like that. So like a good vampire, I hid from the light, splashed water on my face, peeled off my clothes, and passed out in my bed. I’d do the Time Warp again some other day.

And so that’s my story. I’m still a little twitchy like a nervous rabbit, but I also made myself laugh and smile over the flash of boobs past and road trip shenanigans. I can hop cautiously out of my hole, sniff the air, and move forward.

 

 

Odds and Ends

It was one if those weeks where lots of random little things happened, and for most of them I wondered if I could make a blog out of it. And despite my best efforts to stretch, prod, pretend, and plea to any higher being who would listen, no one single thing would save me from the yawning maw of the blank electronic page. But I realized I could gang them all up together and let you sort it out, since you are all so awesome and intelligent. 

So enjoy the random events:

1. Have you noticed this new fashion thing of women wearing ankle boots with no socks? With the dresses, yes, I’ve seen this before, but they also do it with pants. So, you know, I’m a hip happenin’ chick so I put on my little socks no one can see and show my ankles to the world. And I was distracted by it all day. When all the others do it, it looks fashionable. But somehow I just couldn’t see myself that way. I went down the mom road thinking about cold ankles, and then I just felt like I looked like I’d forgotten to wear socks. I usually do not obsess over fashion, despite the pleas of some of friends to do so, for the love of god. So, I guess this just means I gotta wear the socks. I’m sure the fanny pack isn’t far behind.

2. I watched the first two debates and survived, but I drew the line at number three. I just had nothing left for it, but my teen was watching it with his friends online. All I could hear was his side of the four-way conversation and no debate audio. Oh. My. God. It was so perfect. Do you remember how awful being a teenager was? Well what we didn’t understand was the gift we had in our cluelessness. My son and his friends blissfully have no emotional investment in this campaign. They are young and they don’t care about what has come before or even what happens after. And I forgot what a gift that could be until I heard them calling out the internet meme moments. “He sniffed!” My son cried jubilantly. “Hillary just said ‘Russia’!” It was just as good as SNL, and no commercials. 

3. I was in the car and heard the Talking Heads song, “All Night Long,” about a cute baby he wants to make stay up all night long. I haven’t heard that song in ages, but it took me right back to my kid, when he was an infant. There was a span of time (who can say for how long, mothering has a way of eating your brain) when he just slept for 30 minutes, woke up and breast fed for 30 minutes, until he fell asleep again for 30 minutes. Over and over again until he made spy movie torture look fun. I would have agreed to anything, spilled any secret. My dear friend Lora made up new lyrics to the song about my situation, made me a book, and then sang the song to me. When I heard it in the car I used the recording feature in my iPhone, and sent her 20 seconds worth without comment. She got it immediately and texted back about her version. And I realized that I need to change the story in my head about how hard it was to have a baby who thought sleep was for amateurs. It was was 17 years ago, and it’s time for a new story. One that emphasizes the great number of friends who kept me sane then and who continue to keep me sane now, and all night long. Thanks guys. 

4. I have a sensitive disposition both emotional and nervous-system based–a two-fer, yippee! I’ve learned to be more emotionally resilient, although there are exceptions (see number 2 for illustration), but the physical sensitivities are harder to manage in a noisy world and even harder to explain. I’ll just say that when the ambulance is screaming down the street, I’m the one with her hands plugging her ears–me and the toddler set. But I recently had an epiphany that could help me explain my sensitivities. I was eating a Mexican salad that I ordered without jalapeños. But I think they were still in there. It was hard to tell, the salad was chopped to hell, but my mouth was on fire. Now usually I would say “I don’t like jalapeños,” but that just leads well-meaning people who seem to enjoy having their mouths on fire to try to convince me I should like it too. Saying it hurts is an exaggeration. It’s not painful, unlike that screaming ambulance. But this week I realized it’s uncomfortable. I don’t feel whatever exilirating, nasal clearing thing it is you all feel when your mouth is on fire. It’s more like I’m too close to a fire and my eyebrows are getting singed. Only it’s inside my mouth. Uncomfortable. I confess that like a new convert, I may use it for every sensitivity incident. 

5. While I was purchasing some acne medicine on Amazon, (yes I have acne, it’s ridiculous), the helpful algorithm also suggested some ointment for puffy, baggy eyes. How did they know, I wondered? So I took a chance and ordered some. I tried it a couple of times, even being scientific about it and taking before and after selfies in the mirror to see if it worked. No one should have to see such an extreme close up of themselves, but I believe in the scientific method. And I can scientifically report that it doesn’t work, well, it doesn’t work if the bags under your eyes have bags–on either bag level. 

So there you have it. Oh and apologies for all the accidental posts. I’m working from the app on my phone and clearly haven’t mastered the technique yet. 

The Dating Game

Remember when I was perusing Craigslist solely to gather information for you, fair readers? Well, today we’re moving on to part 2, dating advice. I may or may not be dating — if you want to find out for sure, you’re going to have to buy me dinner and drinks. A lot of drinks. But I digress.

I was with my friend Mike visiting our favorite bartender in Boston, and we noticed a young couple in the middle of what had to be a first date. It was pretty plain to see the body language. He was chatting and working pretty hard at being charming and funny — leaning in, if you will. Both Mike and I decided we’d be happy to have been on the receiving end of his efforts. But the young woman was less than enchanted. She was bordering on being rude, looking away, looking at her phone. Our favorite bartender confirmed our suspicions and filled us in because she’d been eavesdropping. Hence one of the many reasons she’s our favorite bartender. She was in favor of the young man, who was holding up his part of the date, but the young woman seemed to be too caught up in her own insecurities — there was a fair amount of tugging at her skirt, looking at her phone, and fiddling with her hair. She was clearly not present. And even if she was, hey, if you’re not into it, then you need to find a graceful way to end it. That’s what grownups do. Or maybe we all need to be aware of whether our date is into it, and if not, have the courage to end it gracefully ourselves.

The three of us heaved a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t us, and we agreed that this is what’s so hard about dating when you’re young. At that age, most of us often only want someone for the sake of wanting them, and we really haven’t figured out what we want from ourselves, never mind a partner. And yet there’s this great pressure to be out there and dating and finding The One! So you go on dates, dragging along your wheeled baggage that definitely does not fit into the overhead compartment. (I’d like to give shout out to my friend Lora who introduced me to this apt metaphor. She also told me plenty of stories of being on dates with folks in their 30s and 40s who should know better and still have a death grip on their luggage. So sadly, this does not just apply to the young ones.)

Sometimes I regret that I didn’t date more at that age, and wonder if it would have made a difference in my choices. But was I even ready for it? Would it have been just a series of dates like the one I witnessed, only it would have been me worrying about my body, clothes, hair, stupid shit? To be fair, back then we didn’t have phones to check, but would my eyes have been darting around like a trapped animal? Or staring into the middle distance like fictional characters do when their lives are hitting bottom? Would I have been able to learn from it? I’ve recently become addicted to enamored of a website called A New Mode, which among other things dispenses a lot of decent, sensible relationship advice aimed at straight women, but I think all humans can find something useful in it. There is also a lot of insight into how straight men think. I could write a whole blog on this topic alone, and maybe I will — it’s totally fascinating.

But for this blog, I like how A New Mode focuses on loving yourself first, having a full happy life without a partner, the fun of dating, and not taking anything too seriously at the beginning. And it’s good enough that I can overlook the fair amount of hard sell of various $49 videos that will reveal for the FIRST TIME! The THREE SIMPLE WORDS that will make the man you want crave you and devote himself to you forever! As a writer, I find the word “crave” an interesting choice. Obsession is too scary and in all states, illegal, but the word “crave” is marketing genius. It’s being wanted without the scary part, although it’s still too scary for me. As an older, wiser woman, I can happily skip the craving and devotion, and have many better uses for my 49 bucks, thanks.

But the other advice makes a lot of sense to me because it validates what I learned through hard-won life experience. I’ve spent my post-divorce time getting to that place of filling my life with things that bring me joy, being happy with myself, changing a few things I’m not happy with, and letting go what doesn’t really matter. But I wonder, would I have been able to truly understand this advice the last time I was thrashing about in this arena as a 20-something? I was definitely carrying over-regulation-size luggage, and I was an 80s angry feminist who had just extricated herself from a messy, abusive, dysfunctional relationship. OK, I waited two years after the relationship, but still. I think in that time I managed to unpack the equivalent of a cosmetic bag, and angry feminists don’t wear makeup. Would I have really been able to love myself and not just plaster on a fake sticker, “Yes, I love myself, now date me!”? I really had no idea who I was, and I don’t think I had any business dating, not even for purely recreational purposes.

But to be kind to myself, I Googled “Dating Advice from the ‘80’s,” just to see what advice was available to me at that time. And while I may not have been ready to follow today’s advice back then, I think I can safely say there was no way to be successful using the advice of that time. Phew, that’s a load off. Check this out advice from a book called How to Be Popular with Boys by Stacy Rubis (1984):

  1. “Boys get an ego boost from your awkwardness. It makes them feel more in control, more manly. And at the same time they get more protective toward shy, trembling you.” Hmmm. If that were the case, I should have been beating them off with a stick. Awkward was my middle name! Don’t get me stated on the trembling, what am I? Some Hollywood starlet from the ’30s?
  2. “Don’t take any chances when getting ready in the morning. Always put effort into looking good. Effort, plain effort, is often the only real difference between average and stunning girls.” Hey, I always made sure my “rat tail” (a little chunk of hair in the back that is about 4 inches longer than your short hair) was dyed blue and braided. Believe me it looked good. Really good.
  3. “Another good way to turn a crush into the real thing is to determine your man’s schedule of classes for the day…Figure it out and arrange when to bump into him…a lot.” Um, I think this is called stalking now, and is illegal in all 50 states…
  4. “Try eating at one of the ethnic food stands in the mall, preferably a taco place where it’s hard to discern the ingredients of a meal. Then say to a boy whose plate is piled high, ‘What is that you’re eating?’” Yeah, because meat, various vegetables, and cheese are so ethnic, that they are hard to identify. That aside, practicing inflection seems key to this advice: What is that you’re eating? What is that you’re eating? What is that you’re eating? I don’t think I quite have the sexy innuendo down right…

So, there you have it. Dating is never easy in any time or stage of life, but it sure makes for good blog fodder, and that, my friends, brings me great joy.

 

Girlie Adventures: The One That Got Way

Occasionally I write about my forays into the world of girlie girlness. It took me a while to get here, having been a pants-preferring feminist for a long time. I used to equate girlie girlness with weakness, which is really the opposite of feminism, but I was  young, passionate, and convinced I was right. How adorably clueless is that? Lately I’ve come to the conclusion that I can be a strong woman in a cute dress; leaving any of my talents on the table is not what living my fullest life is all about. So when my brains and brawn need a little help, I’m learning to not be afraid of bringing in the girlie girl.

Which is what I was practicing on a recent walk around Jamaica Pond in Boston. I was feeling full of vim and vigor and decided to power walk around the pond. I went right from work, and in my cute, black dress, tall black boots, and well-chosen accessories, I was a vision of girlie power. I walked fast and sure, not unlike Carrie Bradshaw in the opening credits of Sex and the City. She’s walking in NYC, in her weird, yet fetching girlie outfit, flirtatiously raising her eyebrows and smirking confidently. That was me, smirking at strangers and swinging my arms. I was killing it. Up ahead I saw I guy casting his fishing rod, so I slowed a bit. When the rod pointed in the direction of the water, I sped up and surged confidently past him. When I was directly behind him, I felt a gentle thwack on the front of my thigh. With my kickass boots thumping, all my brain had time to formulate was that the fisherman had thwacked me accidentally with the tip of his fishing pole. That had to be true because I was walking confidently in a cute dress like Carrie Bradshaw.

On I walked, once, twice around the pond, going strong. Because I was busy looking outward and facing the world with my amazing girlie girl self-possession, I dismissed the shiny thing near the bottom of my dress as being the zipper of my open coat. You know, as one does.

I would have been better off remembering Carrie’s bus splash.

As I started to slow down, I got a good look at the “zipper.” Lo, I had been walking around the pond with a shiny, flashing fishing lure hooked to my dress. My brain was flooded with endorphins from all that walking, so I laughed at myself and sat down to pull it out. I had a vague notion that these lures could be expensive, plus, how cute and flirty would it be to hand it back to him with a little toss of my head and witty remark about being the one who got away?

And then I noticed the sucker had three hooks, and they were all embedded in my dress. What the hell did this guy think he was going to catch in this little pond? Jaws? I worked at it for a bit, but the damn thing was like a fishing hook Rubik’s cube. I’d get one hook free, but as I triumphantly released the second one, the first one would dig back into the dress. The third one was just permanently attached and laughing at me.

The sun was starting to set and I was hungry and needed to get home. Sadly, there wasn’t going to be any flirty exchange or little toss of the head. Of course, I was also clear across the pond from my car. But I scraped together my brains, brawn, and girlie girlness and power walked back, acting for all the world like I’d invented a new dress accessory: the triple hooked shiner.

Back at my house, I started the Rubik’s cube game in earnest. But since I was only ever able to solve one side of that thing,  I wasn’t really getting anyhere. Brawn wanted to rip the hooks out and sew up the holes, but the tears would be right on the front of my favorite dress and girlie girl was having none of that. Brain finally realized that the fabric was stretchy, so, at least in theory, I might be able to use braun to strategically stretch the fabric over the nasty hooks with out ripping anything. It took most of the evening, considerable patience, and the phone support of a friend who actually had solved Rubik’s cube, but I did it. And that is the true power of not letting any of your talents get away.

hooked1

 

The Continuing of the Girlie Girl Adventures: Accessories

Last summer I began the girlie girl adventures with a  post called “I’m Sexy (if Only in My Head).” I had a summer dress with a gaping crisscross overlay in the front, a new pair of matching shoes, and a dream. Hilarity ensued.

Still, I persevered through the winter months by rediscovering Victoria’s Secret and going “underward.” My girliness continues to evolve, and this year my summer dress collection expanded thanks to the addictive marketing of Old Navy. I’ve learned a whole new language—ruched and empire waists, scooped necklines, adjustable straps, and dresses with features I don’t yet know the names of. I doubt I’ll ever be fluent in girlie, but like a tourist in a foreign country who can ask where the bathroom is, I can get by. So there I was wearing my dresses wantonly everywhere—the grocery store, at the beach, to take out the trash—when I realized that the black pair of flats I’d added last fall to go with my black dresses wasn’t going to cut it for the new batch of light-colored blue, white, and peach colored summer dresses. Curses.

I’ve never had a shoe thing. I own the basic black and brown work shoes, some kickass tall black boots, a pair Fluevogs I got 15 years ago after the birth of my son to reassure me I was still cool (if you haven’t had a baby, please be kind; if you have had a baby, you totally know what I’m talking about), and a small assortment of flat shoes I can walk in, including one pair of sneakers. None of these plays well with cute sundresses. Well, maybe the kickass boots and the Fluevogs, but I don’t have the fashion sense or attitude to pull that off. This reminded me that girliness can be a harsh mistress, but there was nothing  for it now but to head back to Old Navy. I managed to get one pair of blue denim flats that pretty much covered the non-black dresses.

Then as the summer heated up and I no longer needed a jacket, I lost the pockets and a way to carry my wallet, keys, and phone. Designers, please note, I will pay extra for dresses with pockets. And this is where I and the mistress had words. I don’t like purses and refuse to get one. I can barely keep track of the things attached to my body, never mind things that are easily left behind. We settled on a cross body bag—I would look for the smallest one that I could find that would fit my three items and maybe my sunglasses. I knew I couldn’t order this online. I was going to have to feel it and see it. I knew what I had to do, but I fought it for weeks. Waving my sundresses at me like a red cape before a bull, my mistress stared me down with her steely gaze until I gave in,

I was going to have to go shopping. In multiple stores. For more than an in-and-out-15 minutes. Dear god have mercy on me.

It took a few weeks to psych myself up, but finally one lunch hour I decided this was it. The time limit as well as  a target of three stores in close proximity would minimize my pain. The only thing I hate more than shopping is driving to shopping. So I power walked to Downtown Crossing, took a deep breath, and hurled myself into TJ Maxx, H&M, and Marshalls. I attacked the bag section with a laser-like focus. I could eliminate 90 percent right off the bat by:

  • Size – what do people carry in these things? Babies? Small dogs?
  • Color – neon lavender goes with, um, what again?
  • Cost – if I’m spending three digits for a bag, there better be a baby or a dog in it.

The remaining 10 percent got whittled down by discounting the bags with silly accents like tassels and gold chains. That’s what pasties and necklaces are for. The remaining candidates got tried on and loaded with military-drill-like precision. I soon realized that bags are like wedding guests. You invite people by groups and each new group increases the guest number exponentially. You can have 20 people, or 75, or 150, but nothing in between, unless you want the left out people in your groups to stop speaking to you. The bags turned out to be frighteningly similar. I could fit in the three pieces, but there was no room for the sunglasses. The bags that could fit all four things were much bigger and looked suspiciously like a dreaded purse.

I was more ruthless and brutal in my assessment than Harvard admissions, and by the time I had hit all three stores and loaded and unloaded 20 bags, I was sweating profusely. I finally settled on a small Baggallini, and was quickly rewarded with that ultimate seal of approval: a fellow shopper stopped to gush about her (multiple) Baggallinis. Mission accomplished.

My enabler coworkers were impressed when I got back and they too gushed over my bag, even indulging me when I patiently explained that is was a cross body bag, not a purse. What’s the difference, you may ask? My self-respect. My one coworker—let’s call her “Shoe Sith”—couldn’t resist murmuring, “The shoes are next.” I looked at her and for a moment I saw the Emperor in “The Return of the Jedi,” when he’s trying to win Luke over to the dark side. She has a shoe collection under her desk that people come to visit, mesmerized by the four-inch heels and strappy fantasies.

I laughed without fear. No one was getting me into that kind of shoe. My feet don’t fit for one thing—I have very ungirlie wide feet—and I firmly believe in wearing shoes that you can run in—either away from something scary or toward something fun.

And then I saw “Kinky Boots.”

I saw the movie years ago and loved it, and I had no idea how they would translate it into a musical. OMG. Damn that Cindy Lauper to hell. It’s fun, the music is catchy, and they honored the movie. And those boots. I can only blame my love for disco and gay men for the fact that I want to wear those boots. How else can I explain how I want them even though I can’t possible walk in them? They are so red and sparkly…and red…and did I mention sparkly? In case you haven’t had the pleasure, here they are.  Who wouldn’t want to wear these badass boots?

kinkyboots2

Mind you it will take more than a flashy Broadway show to get me into some serious girlie shoes, but when my sequined vision finally cleared, I had to admit the door was cracked open. I thought I was done with accessories with the Baggallini, but I may have to admit there really is no end to girlie accessories. Maybe there is something fun I could run to…