Category Archives: Girlie Girls

The Girliness Adventures Go UnderWard

Just to get this out of the way: yes, I live in the Boston area; yes, we have more snow than is necessary; yes, that which does not kill us makes us stronger; and yes, it’s getting personal, and I will win. Now on to our regularly scheduled blog post.

I haven’t reported on my girlie girl adventures since my September 22 post, where I attempted to be an alluring vixen while falling out of my dress and pulling a necklace out of the arm hole. The truth is there hasn’t been much to report since winter has set in. While I have made a commitment to being more of a girlie girl, I did not commit to being a frozen one. I see the young ones out there climbing snowbanks in their high-heeled boots, dresses, and bare legs, and I wish them all the best of luck. I’m confident that my new long underwear is positively racy, especially when layered under my snow boots and ski pants. Oh, yeah, don’t you worry, I’m smokin’ hot.

I thought I would have to wait for spring to pick up my girliness pursuits until I found myself chatting with my coworkers and I realized I could bring my girlie girl ambitions inward, or rather underward. We were discussing bras, you know, as one does at work, and the sheer number of colors they owned to match their outfits revealed to me this: a superior girliness honed to near perfection by 40 plus years on this earth. It also revealed to me my own bra bias. Somewhere along the way of being married for 20 years and having a kid, I assumed those pretty bras were for young ones only. Or maybe I couldn’t see the point of spending a gazillion dollars on something that was just going to get spit up on, drooled on, and yanked at, and that was just the interaction with the kid. And so, I became a woman with old lady bras. Solid white with support, god help me. Thus re-educated, I renewed my commitment to girliness, and with gravity snuggling up against me a bit too closely, I took the, uh, plunge into the world of brightly colored bras.

I’m easily overwhelmed by many choices, but I also I knew I had to start in a store because I needed to try these things on. Sizes in women’s clothing vary from brand to brand and so mean diddly squat. With grit and determination, I headed into the “intimates” section of the closest store to my house, Target.

This is not for the intimately faint of heart.

It had been awhile since I had spent quality time in these Labyrinthian isles, and I was unprepared for the uniformity of what I can only describe as the matching snack bowl design of all the bras in the place. Seriously, rows and rows of hanging bowls. While I was grappling with that, it occurred to me that these snack bowls were only possible with serious padding. My gut reaction was the re-opening of an old wound. Before the snack bowls fashion, padded bras were only found among the more modest sized bras. I’ve never been big, and I resented the fact that fashion and society informed me I needed to supplement what I had with padding. However peering through the stacks of snack bowls, I could see we’d evolved, if you can call it that, to a kind of egalitarian place where all women were being told how their boobs should look in a shirt. Perfectly padded, smooth, and shaped.

I didn’t last very long before the snack bowl thing started to freak me out, so I backed away slowly and retreated home, where I ransacked my underwear drawer. I finally unearthed two older, but hardly used bras, in black and beige. They were from a time before I had gained weight, so they actually fit again. I had been granted a small reprieve.

Emboldened by black and beige, I threw fitting caution to the wind and decided my next assault on the intimates section would be online. At least I could control the number of snack bowl views per page and maybe there would be some non-snack bowl choices. I started circling the internet like a vulture searching for its next meal. I landed on Victoria’s Secret because of dim memories of going there with my college roommates during big sales. It turned out to be far worse— a 1,000 more styles, still all snack bowls, and these came with bewildering  names. There’s the T-shirt bra that is supposed to be invisible under a T-shirt, but as it looks like all the other bras, how it’s invisible escaped me. Even more confusing was the push up plunge bra—am I being pushed up or plunged? Then to add to the matrix, each of the styles comes with “coverage” options. I guess sort of like insurance, but even more baffling: full, demi, unlined (but all those models looked like they were 12—we seem to have reversed our societal padding norms). I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of this stuff.

Now where was I? Oh right, pretty colors! When I finally came to, I understood the easiest way to sort through this infinity of bowls: price. 80 percent of pretty bras cost a gazillion dollars and the prettier they are the more gazillions they cost. So then I became the circling vulture looking for the best deal. In the clearance section I found two bras, purple and animal print and labeled as push up. They looked like all the others, so I plunked down my credit card and clicked “buy.”

About a week later a roomy package thinly disguising snack bowl shapes arrived in my mailbox. When I put them on I realized that the push up part meant there was more padding under the snack bowl than on the top. I guess this is meant to make your boobs tastefully spill out like some period dress from the late 1700s. In any event  the real shape of your breasts is immaterial, or rather safely hidden in the material. The bowls call all the shots and your boobs sit in them obediently, high or low depending on your age. But the seductive, disturbing beauty of it is that all boobs have the same smooth shaped look. Despite this, I didn’t like them at first. I felt like I was a horse hitched up to a snack bowl farming wagon. But my laziness for repackaging and returning mail order items is pretty entrenched, so I decided to suck it up and keep them. After a few outings, I got used to them and was thoroughly seduced by their perfection. That’s when the addiction started. I wanted more colors. I returned to circling the website for more bargains, more colors. T-shirt bras were in the clearance section so I found a blue one and clicked. By the time this one arrived, I was thoroughly broken in by the heavy padding of the push up bra, and so the lighter padding of the T-shirt felt like light a light carriage harness in comparison. I was, pardon the pun, hooked.

Now that I know the T-shirt bras are my thing, my addiction continues to get fed by the tantalizing onslaught of emails I get on a daily basis from Victoria’s Secret. I decided I spent enough on bras only to get lured in by the “Free shipping!” “Buy 2 and get one free!” “2 for $50” and there I was back in the demi T-shirt bra collection, hovering over Tangy Sorbet and Pink Daisy Tie Dye. Click, click. How many is too many? At what point is girliness fully achieved? How do I resist this Siren call to the molded perfection of the snack bowl? Spring and looking outward is my only hope–a return to my girly dresses, accessories, and shoes. Til then, I stare longingly at Neon Citrus and Bright Cherry. There’s still a bit of room in my drawer.

Photo credit: http://www.funny-potato.com/biggest-bra.html

It’s Nothing Personal

So here I am four years post-separation and marriage. During the summer I amused myself by getting reacquainted with girlie things—dresses, shoes, and those whatchamacallits…oh, yeah, accessories. I couldn’t quite pull off sexy, but I got and had a lot of laughs. Summer slipped into autumn and winter is nearly upon us, and even though the girlie dresses are getting cold, I still want to wear them. Out. Somewhere. With sincere apologies to Keats, I now find myself slouching towards dating Bethlehem. I’m still not interested in actual dating, but I’m interested in the idea of thinking about maybe seeing what might be out there. Makes me a perfect catch, don’t you think? I am the consummate researcher and thinker, which, for your information is absolutely very different from a procrastinator. I’m a writer, I know the nuances of language better than you.

In any event, I realized I’m in a good position to evaluate the personals. What do they look like compared to when I answered my ex’s personal ad in the Boston Phoenix, Boston’s alternative weekly newspaper, more than 25 years ago? Of course the internet and apps have intervened in the interim, but I limited my research to just personals because 1) I’m too lazy to actually create a dating profile on a site like Match.com, 2) I’m still scarred by my friends’ stories about how brutal and dishonest these dating sites are and 3) I’m not quite ready for an app like Adult Friend Finder—no explanation needed for that I think, except to emphasize that the technology allows you to meet someone RIGHT NOW. No judgment and call me old fashioned, but I just like to get a drink or two and dinner first.

So where to go? Craigslist personals, that ubiquitous, democratic, free internet space that provokes pretty much the same response from people as the Boston Phoenix personals did 25 years ago. Mild shock quickly followed by admonitions to be careful of all the murderers on there. The similarity was downright heartwarming. So far so good! I plunged on with my research, and here, dear reader, is my take on personals then and now:

The Phoenix had the regular personals and a section where sex was a main feature. I believe it was hip enough to also have the basic categories for gays and straights. Craigslist has nine sections and within in them, evidence of the wonder of human variation and preference. Since I’m kind of boring, I stuck with two, “casual encounters” and the “men seeking women.”

All I remember from the Phoenix was that the personals pretty much sounded all the same. The guys liked dinners, movies, and walks on the beach, which was pretty useless—what kind of food? What kind of movies? My ex’s ad actually had specifics, which made him stand out. Now? Holy acronym Batman! LTR, BBW, HWP. Within minutes I was Googling “Craigslist acronyms”: long-term relationship, big beautiful or black woman, height-weight proportional. And that’s when things really got interesting. At one point I forgot I was looking to see if there was anyone I maybe wanted to think about contacting because the specificity is fascinating. This ain’t no dinner and movies crowd.

First there are all the attributes. Ladies, if you get discouraged about all the ways the media reinforces ridiculous standards of beauty, just go to Craigslist—fair warning you are going to see more pictures of men’s junk than a porn site and the fetishes are rampant, but once you get past that, you will find guys looking for BBW, bubble butts, big breasts, small breasts, requests that a woman have a little meat on them. Tall women, petite women, single mothers, HWP, geeky women, tiny waists with big hips. Something called “thick” which even the guides can’t agree on. I thought it was maybe somewhere between HWP and BBW, but then I saw a picture of a “thick” example, and I thought she was actually HWP, so what do I know? I guess the poster will know it when he sees it. Of course there are the straight out requests for being hot looking and thin/athletic. But there are not as many as you would think, and the guys claim to be the same. And that has been going on since Adam was hoping for a hot babe who was an independent thinker and had healthy eating habits.

When men do make very specific or even wacky requests, they often apologize for it and explain they don’t mean to offend, it’s just what they prefer, which I found kind of touching. Sure they may have gotten flamed by some pissed off women or they are simply savvy marketers. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a nice touch.

The details included in the personals turned out to be my downfall. I stopped looking for myself and got lost in my writer’s curiosity. I tend to be attracted to guys who make me laugh, and so don’t really have a type. How do people get such specific types? For example what is it about a bubble butt that gets you going? Honestly, thank goodness they included a picture, because I wasn’t even sure what that was. Of course the pictures, clearly of real people, got me started on a whole other line of thought. Where are these people now? Do they know they are a Craigslist poster girl for a ______ (fill in the blank). Then I think how many women actually respond? How many of a type can there be?

Which of course brings it around back to me. I’m happy for all the women out there whose type is being called out and worshipped (a lot of guys promise to worship these various parts). But then that means I have the opposite, but equally annoying problem of 25 years ago when the ads were too vague. Then it was OK, we both like movies, but what if I like “Equalizer” and you like “Her”? Now I have to figure out where my body fits into the acronyms. I can knock out the extremes—I’m proudly not fit or athletic. Which is just as well because the guys who ask for a fit or athletic woman always list their hobbies as hiking, running and all manner of exercise—ugh. I tend to gravitate to the guys who talk about food and wine. Also, I’m not a BBW or a bubble butt. My breasts have never been big, and thanks to my recent weight loss, they have actually gotten slightly smaller (you really can’t win sometimes). I have big hips, but my waist ain’t anywhere near tiny. It actually was a while before I encountered HWP, which shows you how many requests there are for just a regular gal—not many. I guess they are all on Match.com.

Once I could tear myself away from these fascinating guys and their requests and I decided I was HWP, I started lurking among this small number of ads. I could eliminate at least 75% of the guys off the bat. They are in their thirties or younger, and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar (although that is not an infrequent request).  Of the remaining men, there are the people who are looking for love and long-term, while others are uncomfortably honest (married seeking same). A few are just liars/too creepy if true. One guy claimed to be very successful and was looking for someone to travel with him on his boat and winter in Florida. Um, I was just looking for dinner, wine, a few laughs, and home by midnight, thanks! And that leaves me about one possibility every few weeks. And even at that point the general rule of Craigslist is that half the time, people will flake out on you and not show up.

So through very careful, research, combing through pages of original documents, I have come to a very scientific conclusion about dating today versus 25 years ago. It ain’t any easier, whether you are looking for an LTR, an Adult Friend, or just looking for dinner, wine and a few laughs. But at least if you have been hiding your Craigslist lurking habit, you can tell people you only know about it because you read it here. You’re welcome. The girlie dresses can wait until spring.

Photo credit: Glamour.com, “Here Are a Few Not-So-Solid Dating Tips From the 1930s”

Still Shaving After all These Years

According to my blog statistics, my posts have a range of views and visitors, but guess what consistently gets two to three visits every day? Unfortunately, it’s not any of my hard-won, funny pieces; no, it’s a long, serious essay about shaving that I wrote in my 30s when I had the energy to be more seriously passionate and the brain cells to match. I used to write all my pieces like that when time was a luxury I didn’t realize I had. Lucky for you, I’ve only posted four of them on my website. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of them, they have stood the test of time, and I posted them because I could never get anyone else to publish them (so take that Serious Literary Journals that rejected me). It’s just that now I need my life to be more light than serious. I thought a couple of people might stumble on to them, but the shaving essay is actually one of the highest visited pages I have. Isn’t that crazy? Even crazier is the phrase that people use that finds my essay. If I Google “do Arab women have to shave completely,” on my phone app, my essay comes up second, after Yahoo answers. What the hell? I do have a few lines about that in the essay, but it was because I was meandering my way through various cultures and their attitudes about women and hair. I find most of the methods of removing hair tedious, terrifying, or mystifying and was desperately looking for a culture I could adopt to avoid it. Spoiler alert: there ain’t none.

Ah, the mysteries of the internet and human curiosity. Who am I to argue? My recent foray into reacquainting myself with my girliness brought me back full circle to the shaving thing, so here is my follow-up to the shaving essay, with less time, fewer brain cells and less talk about Arab women, who I still think have to shave everything. No, this piece is about me revisiting shaving from the point of view of being divorced, middle-aged, and contemplating how much shaving does one actually need to do in case, say, a tall, handsome stranger (or really any stranger) is smitten enough with me to want to take a peek beneath my girlie dress. (go here for a recap of my girlie dress adventures). Yes, I’m a delusional optimist, but it’s more fun than being a Serious Writer.

My shaving research seemed to indicate that one needs to shave everything. Hmmm. OK, still not sold on that—my skin is very sensitive—but in the interest of being open-minded, I thought, well maybe the methods have improved over the last 15 to 20 years. Ha! Now that’s funny! I found a list of the 10 best shaving products (oh, how I have fallen), and carefully chose four of these vetted methods (no crappy “As Seen on TV” products—I’m talking to you No!No!). Here they are, and for the record, getting rid of body hair is still just as tedious, terrifying, and mystifying as ever.

  • The pink razor continues to exist. In my essay I rant about stupid pink women’s shavers. I have always used men’s shavers which I’m convinced work better than the pink ones of yesteryear. Well the recommended razor this time around, is yes, still pink. Really people? It did seem to be upgraded however. The Schick Quattro for women (at least they don’t call it a “ladies” razor) comes with a badass trimmer on one end and four blades on the other. All the reviews raved about the four blades. Pink or not, that had to be better than two, right? Turns out, not so much. There are so many guards around the blade, I had to bear down on it like I was planing a two by four. I tried a couple of times until my skin started to sting. I still came out of the shower with five o’clock shadow on my legs. Looks like it’s back to the man’s double razor. I have to check this, but I’m pretty sure the four-bladed men’s Gillette Quattro trusts men to not slice themselves to ribbons. The trimmer is fine, so I’m keeping the hideous pink thing in my shower.
  • Bikini Zone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel. Well at least this product admits that for some of us, the biking area is only going to be smooth and mark free through Photoshop. It kind of worked. I would say it reduced the angry red bumps to mildly argumentative. I may stick to my previous biking area shaving strategy, which was to wear a bathing suit skirt or shorts. If I’m going to fantasize about a handsome stranger, I may as well throw in that he cares not about an unPhotoshopped bikini area.
  • Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo. People really raved about this in a kind of way that scared me as I wondered what they had to put up with before this came along. I do have a light mustache, but it’s the kind that can’t be seen readily in normal face-to-face encounters (friends, do not correct me if this isn’t the case). Given my early experience with stinky hair removal products, I wasn’t motivated to do anything about it anyway, except invoke my powers of denial. The magical part of this product, apparently, is the clear protective gel you put on first, then you put on the hair removal gunk. Even on my super sensitive skin, this product worked (the “light to medium” version, so thank god I didn’t have to go to the more soul-crushing “medium to coarse” option). I do believe the reviewers who agree with the product recommendation to wait 72 hours before doing it again. Even the gel can’t help you at that point. Still, I use the term “success” lightly—I still have to look like a bad sitcom teen girl with a white cream mustache for 10 minutes. Might as well put in some pink curlers and call it a day.
  • The final product was Pure Silk Moisturizing Shave Cream, an allegedly inexpensive cream that I couldn’t find anywhere—OK I looked in two places, but I was already in for about $75 (how do you girlie girls pay for all this stuff?), and my bar of Dove soap hasn’t let me down yet.

So that’s the lot my friends. I’m now too broke and tired from all this shaving to actually go out and meet anyone, but maybe my blog stats will go up.

Photo credit: http://crazyhyena.com/bear-shave-leg-hair-picture-meme_en

I’m Sexy (If Only in My Head)

You may recall my post featuring Blanche, who keeps me honest and told me to “Get back on the damn horse and ride.” Well, I’m still not ready to do that, not in a even semi-permanent sort of way, but I am thinking it would be nice to just, you know, chat up a decent guy once in a while. However, I’m long on thinking and prepping and short on action, so my first, hesitant step into this fresh hell was to go to Old Navy to look at cute dresses. Oh, I know, believe me, I’m the main reason Blanche drinks so much, and once I induced an eye roll in her that required medical attention.

But you have to understand, I’m not a girlie girl. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t own one of those bag things many women carry around their girlie stuff in, I prefer jeans and plain tee-shirts, and lean toward black chunky shoes because I get to have comfort disguised as cool (perhaps only disguised to me). I own work dresses but only because pants are too hot and I don’t have to wear hose. So, for the record, me skulking around Old Navy for a dress is a BIG DEAL. I admit I kind of got caught up in the girliness of it all, and bought not one, but two dresses. One is a little black number that I have absolutely no use for and no place to wear, but my understanding is that this is the bedrock of girlie shopping. It may play into my scheme to sit in a nice bar to chat up all the decent guys who would most certainly be drawn to the dress like squirrels to an acorn. (Oops, I just made Blanche choke on a beer nut). The second dress is cotton and is a long sundressy kind of thing, and I have so little experience with this, I don’t even know how to describe the style. Here’s a picture.

photo (7)

It’s sort of a crossover, wrap around, which I usually avoid because 1) when it wraps all the way on the bottom, the women I see wearing them are constantly having to hold on to the bottom lest they end up flashing the world and I’m much too lazy to do that, and 2) when I was younger, I didn’t have the boobage to carry something like that off. But this dress was only wrapped at the top and since having a kid, I’m almost average size, so I thought what the heck? It looked pretty darn cute, if I may say so myself, and so I bought both and had exactly three minutes of giddiness until I remembered, oh yeah, girlie is a harsh mistress: you can’t just buy a dress. The dress needs other stuff like a necklace and shoes, perhaps even a scarf and other things I don’t even know about. I mentally scanned my belongings and thought I could scrape up everything but the damn shoes. My choices were Merrell sandals and girlie sandals the wrong color from a dress and event long ago. Crap. Despite these reminders of why I’m not a girlie girl, I attacked the shoe store like a Navy SEAL. Sweating and gasping, I got a pair of black sandals, even though there is no black in the crossover dress. (Blanche is sighing and ordering another shot.)

With the summer dress burning a hole in my closet, I decided to kill three birds with one stone: celebrate city life and the end of summer, debut the dress, and practice being cute in public. I put on my costume, complete with the new sandals, a black chunky necklace and earrings I’d bought once for a fancy work dinner, a bracelet-watch, and rings. I gathered a small group of friends to meet me at an outdoor hotel bar in the afternoon, so we could enjoy the weather, sip cocktails, and look like those people in the outdoor furniture section of a Crate and Barrel catalogue. I was well into enjoying being a person who had no piles of laundry at home or a teenager to corral, chatting and laughing, when one of my friends pointed at me and asked,

“Um, what’s going on there?”

I looked down to discover with horrifying certainty that my boobs were only big enough to hold the dress up while I was standing. Sitting on the Crate and Barrel couch, not so much. Despite being manhandled by my strapless bra, one boob was half popping out of the now slackened wrap around/crossover, which clearly is not the right name for this style because that dress was doing neither of those things.

We all laughed while I scooped up my dignity and my boob and then I spent the rest of the time checking and plucking the dress from the back and sitting on it so it wouldn’t gap. But that’s what dry runs and fun friends are for, right? Just as I was starting to feel cute again, in spite of having to sit ramrod straight to keep my dress in place, I glanced down and spied a small chain poking out of the side of my dress near my boob. Like a tawdry stripper/magician act in Vegas, I tugged on the chain and slowly pulled out my necklace from the side of my dress. Bless any of you who are blaming a broken clasp—I promise not to take my lukewarm mess to any public venues near you. No, I hadn’t actually caught the clasp in a link, just around the chain, so it slid up to the last larger link. There it sat precariously until my boob shenanigans had undone the thing. Ooooh, yeah, I’m a real catch.

We all had another round of belly laughs as I struggled to re-latch the necklace and keep my boobs covered. As I headed home, I had flashbacks of similar results in my attempts to be cool/cute/sexy in my 20s. It wasn’t pretty.

  • Trying to kiss a guy on a first date and practically knocking his teeth out with my inexperienced eagerness.
  • The time, after a bad break up, I went to the dance club determined to go home with someone, and even the last dance desperadoes fled from my female version of the “What is love?” SNL guys.
  • The time a guy was putting the (not unwelcome) moves on me and I kept asking, “What are you doing?”

I should be asking myself the same thing. Well, to quote Blanche, I’m “getting back on the damn horse.”

“I’ll drink to that,” says Blanche as she takes a fortifying drag off her Marlboro. “But better make it a double.”