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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Seeing Janice: how I should never leave the house without looking in the mirror

(Look, even Julia Roberts has frumpy days)

I saw Janice yesterday. She looked great. I looked horrendous.

I usually don’t care that much about these things, but seriously, I looked like the worst version of myself possible. I hadn’t taken a shower in two days, and Emergency Christmas Shopping was nagging me:

"So, if it snows again, and you can't drive down the hill for 3 days, what do you tell your children on Christmas morning? Will you say sorry I didn't shop this year, I was too busy working? They didn't even ask for much, just simple things. Would it kill you to drive to the mall?"

Emergency Christmas Shopping is kind of mean. It doesn't put up with excuses. It knows you've had all year to shop. Christmas is right there on the Google calendar, after all.

There was a break in the weather and the children were at school so I threw on a hat and coat to run out before the roads got icy, and the snow started again. Just a quick little jaunt, no big deal; no need to waste time with the shower, shampoo and shine routine.

I was at TJ Maxx looking for bargains when I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I almost fell over.

My hair was plastered straight down on my head, I was wearing the T-shirt I slept in, no bra, a fleece jacket with dog hair all over it, my lovely Pillsbury Dough Boy puffed coat, saggy jeans rolled up over my boots to keep out of the snow. I couldn't recall the last time I washed my face, let alone put on some makeup.

I swear I looked like I weighed 250 pounds and hadn’t seen a brush or a fashion magazine in 10 years. It was as if I put all the unflattering clothes I own in a big pile and rolled around in them until they stuck on me.

I swear to you I didn't recognize myself. I almost cried. How had I let myself go?

But of course, I dismissed the pity. In real life, with a little pre-planning, I was fine, I told myself. Not the hot-babe of my youth, but fine, in that middle aged mom way. Just a nice neighbor lady out shopping. The bus stop kids like me, so I'm not an ogre.


I hopped in the car and drove off to Michael's to look for "art supplies" that my art girl had put on her list. Nearly finished, I'll be back home in a jiffy, I thought. I'll take a shower, put on some lipstick, clean the house, maybe wear an apron.

Then, of course, I saw Janice. She is one of my art friends. It was kind of weird that I saw her, actually, because as I was standing in front of the art supplies trying to decide what to get my art girl, I thought “I should ask Janice which of these pencils are better for sketching…she’d know.”

It was a random thought, because I only see Janice randomly, once every couple of months or so, at art openings and such. I usually dress up a little for those things.

But, behold, there she was at the check out counter. She was happy to see me, of course, but I know she did a double take inside, because I'm sure she didn't recognize me at first glance.

Janice is 20 years older than me. She has good taste in clothes and accessories, and usually looks like she thinks about what she’s going to wear before she goes to town.

Janice isn't overly fancy, mind you. She was wearing jeans, a sweater and a fun scarf casually thrown around her neck, with some lovely little bobble earrings. And of course she was buying three nice paint brushes and a jar of acrylic matte medium, not panicking about what to get the children for Christmas at the last minute.

Janice doesn't even have children. She just borrows other people’s children and calls them godchildren, and they live far away. I’m sure she mailed them beautifully wrapped presents weeks ago.

We talked of Prisma colors, anatomy books and nude models (art friends are fun!)then she paid for her stuff and left.

I went straight home, then. I had planned more stops, but for heaven's sake, what if I ran into more people I knew?

Today I'm going to find my hair brush, I swear.


Janice said...

Janice's hair was dirty, too...remember I had a hat on! So nice to think I looked good, but suspect it was that your glasses might have been a bit smudged. Hell, no, I did not wrap nice presents...the "kids" are late teens now, so cash is the appropriate gift. (Well, not according to Emily Post, but she is dead, and these kids are not...they are alive, delightful and too nice to request cash, but we know what they like!
Smooches, Janice

Lori said...

I have decided to hide my hair brush, makeup, clothes that match, and $*&^#$ Sonoma Diet cookbook in the bottom of my overloaded dirty laundry basket. Who needs them?

My only essentials are soap, toothpaste, maybe some clean underwear, a good book, my clashing velour sweats, and several bottles of pinot. And extra strength Excedrin so that I can pretend to be Cheery Christmas Hostess while The Relatives are here.

Deby said...

Oh, I had one of those too last week! And I really don't know that many people in Bend still.

I just hoped that I didn't smell on top of looking like I was a middle aged street urchin.

There are a lot of us this time of year. Strapped for time and out of energy.

juliejulie said...

Deby, I think I did smell. Janice won't admit it because she's nice. Lori, I have emergency whiskey here if you need it. Ski on over...