Monday, August 23, 2010

What I See

One day on the bus I saw a big, milky-skinned beauty, strawberry blonde hair in a piled-up coiffe, clutching her purse into her soft round belly, her v-neck revealing a generous cleavage, her one big toe poking from the peep hole in her worn black patent leather flats, the nail badly polished in the first place, chipped now.
We are all, first and forever, bodies.
Within this description, only these few words, one can see whole worlds of hope and aspiration, desperation and almost certain defeat. She is a beautiful girl. About twenty. Her skill in putting up her hair is not matched by a corresponding taste in clothes or accessories, and nail polish is beyond her. Her hopes for her beauty are not supported by any strong interest in her own beauty. Her body is the house she lives in; it is invisible to her now. Despite her own lack of interest, there is a way in which she is counting on her body to solve the problem of what she is to do with herself, her life, her future. Because she doesn't want to trust to her mental capacity, to her ability to come up with an idea that will take her to the next step in her life. It will be a great relief to her to be chosen, claimed, married. Then she will know what to do, who to do it for. Later, when the river into which she will throw herself (her husband, his ambitions, his priorities) changes course and leaves her high and dry on a sandbank, she will explain to all who will listen that she had no choice in anything that came her way and hijacked her life and left her where she has ended up. That was just the way it was at that time. How could she swim against the current?
She is 5' 9"--taller than a girl needs to be, so she feels aggrieved. She gently curses her genetic load. She wishes she were shorter, more muscular, like those spunky little cheerleaders who seem like guy magnets. Her creamy skin--her best feature--she would trade in a heartbeat for taut abs and a killer tan. She has no idea how to gracefully inhabit what she does have, only how to uselessly covet what she will never have. She believes if only she had that tan, those abs, she'd be happy. Because some guy would be intoxicated by her form, her beauty, and then she could love herself if he loved her.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Pants

I was walking along my normal exercise route, the street of stately homes in our fair city, when I heard the jingle of dog tags behind me. A young woman between 20 and 25 was jogging her little gray whippet behind me and closing fast. I stepped to the edge of the sidewalk because somehow dogs adore my ankles and even more the crotch of my pants, so I try to give them wide berth. She passed me, moving the dog to her other side, keeping herself between me and the dog. She said as she passed, "I love your pants. They're so happy!"
These are my anomalous pants. They are stretch capris made by Bandolino, and they are splashed with giant flowers in red, orange and fuchsia, green ferns in the background. I own nothing else like them. The rest of my wardrobe is fuscous. (Yes! Go look it up! I found it in the dictionary myself while checking the spelling of fuchsia, which somehow I wanted to be: fuschia.) But here's the story--there's always a story--I found them at a consignment store near one of my favorite coffee shops and I grabbed them along with a pile of other summer-weight pants in my usual fuscous color palette because they looked like they might fit me.
I hate shopping. I hate shopping so much I almost wish I lived in a nudist camp. Almost. When I had tried them all on, the only ones that fit me even halfway decently were the Bandolinos, these loud size 10s with a wide, flared waistband that not only fit me, but, I flattered myself, actually flattered my natural shape. I can't wear drawstrings, elastic waists, drop waists, or low-rise jeans (way too much muffin-top). I hate shopping, but I loathe shopping for pants--so disheartening. So when I found these way-too-colorful capris and then saw the price tag said $11.00, I went for it.
There's a way in which they do not represent my personality to the world. They are not in my usual taste. My usual taste is darker and more subdued and makes me look like a schoolmarm--according to my mother-in-law, and I don't disagree. These Bandolinos give the impression I'm about to hijack a pontoon boat on Lake Minnetonka with an ice chest, a pitcher of margaritas and a bag of limes, muttering under my breath: "J. Caldwell Littleton the Third, if you and those goddamned boys ever get off the golf course, you can go to McDonald's again tonight, for all I care!"
They are happy pants. They make me chuckle when I see them hanging in my closet, when I look down and see the outsized petals conforming to my legs. It hardly matters if they do not convey the essence of my personality to the world at large. But maybe they do. I'm happy; they're happy; we're both happy together.