Last week was a busy week for me. Between working on tedious nursing research projects and shepherding The Beav from one place to another, I was having a midlife pity party. Not the most productive way to spend my time; if I had any sense it could have been a midlife crisis and I would be sporting a new pair of Jimmy Choos or a driving a new car or driving a new car in a pair of Jimmy Choos. Some premenopausal women have hot flashes, insomnia or memory issues but not me. Nope. I have crying jags. Better yet I have--according to a dear friend--existential crisis’.
All of this was precipitated by catching a glimpse of people I went to school with thirty years ago, messing with my shaky self confidence and tottering self esteem. Those beautiful girls still look the same. Perfect hair, perfect faces, perfect teeth. Perfect. And don’t get me started on how gracefully the men have aged.
Going to school in North Texas during the 1970’s was almost Hell for me because at almost six feet tall, leggy (not in a good way) skinny, with scraggly thin hair and glasses I was the antithesis of the ideal: 5'5, an over abundance of fluffy hair and the body of a goddess. Fortunately, I found a niche at school and all in all had a lot of fun as a girl. But last week you would have thought I was the school’s whipping girl, always alone, too weird for friends. So weird even the teachers made fun of her. I probably was too weird for friends but luckily my friends didn’t realize it. (Maybe they did and they were just being altruistic and kind…hmmmm) But because I am terribly shallow, the adolescent experience of being average looking left a little scab on my psyche. So I took the opportunity last week to pick at the tiny scratch until it was a big festering, oozy wound. Given the tearful email I sent to Oldest Friend and the phone call I made to Best Gay Boyfriend, you would have thought my life was over because those Texas Women are still drop dead gorgeous, thin with Pilate's bodies and from what I can tell wildly successful and happy. In fact, I text messaged one of my --wildly successful, gorgeous and happened-to-be-vacationing-in-Paris--friends from high school:
“ When r u home? Feeling antifabulous surrounded by the beautiful peeps from 1979. Im the only 1 old and fat. The rest of u are beautiful! Oxo, ugly betty[*]. Srsly if u txt me u hkd up w/ jdepp I will cry myself 2 sleep.”
I think that text message just raised the bar for pathetic, don’t you?
But wait, there’s more: OF is farmed out to New Zealand because the state of academics in US is so piss poor English professors must outsource themselves, and their families, to island nations all the way around and upside down from the US. OF is mostly miserable, she can’t find a job, not too fond of the very expensive NZ and feels removed from the rest of her family. But because she is my OF she doesn’t tell me:
“Get. A. Fucking. Life. Please! Email me with real problems rather than worrying about the wrinkles on your forehead, you too short hair and trying to find new glasses that don‘t make you look like a bull dyke gym teacher.”
(she would use the word “fuck” in that context. Years ago, I had to turn the Net Nanny off because it wouldn’t allow me to read her emails) What we did have was an engaging exchange discussing how brutal our culture is on older women. OF was funny and sweet with her reassurances that I would not allow myself to devolve into Blanche Dubois; laying around and crying about all I have lost. If I'm going to dissolve into a dysfunctional middle aged woman, I think Little Edie is a much more interesting choice.
And who better to call when you are having an ugly and/or fat day than your Best Gay Boyfriend (BGB)? I sniveled and sniffed my way through the whole story about feeling fat, old and ugly, never bothering to ask him how he was doing. BGB is such a sage, this is what he said and he said it because he knows where I live: Self Importantville:
”Oh dear, you are having an existential crisis! There isn’t anything I can say or do to make this better, is there?”
Au contraire BGB: you just made it sound so important and meaningful! I’m not having a hormonal breakdown! Or the most facile person on the planet. No no no no no no! I’m having an existential crisis. Emphasis on the “crisis”. I felt infinitely better after talking to BGB. He turned my frown upside down into a crisis! That he was kind and supportive speaks volumes for my choice of BGBs, especially since the last thing he wanted to listen to was some middle-aged woman nattering on about her lost looks. As we were talking, BGB was multitasking and in the midst of winnowing out most of his worldly possessions trying to decide what he could live without in order to preserve a roof over his head. A day or so later, I winced when I thought about my emotional conversation with him. I felt like Paris Hilton, walking up to this woman : “Um, does this bag clash with my shoes?”
Fortunately, my existential crisis ended after twenty-four hours of self flagellation and carb consumption. It also helped to make an appointment with Nurse Poison for some Botox. A birthday present to
What really shut the party down was when an old friend called and left me a message that started: “Hello beautiful. . .”
Because I am shallow like that.
*For the record, I thinkAmerica Ferrera is hot and Ugly Betty is adorable.