Wardrobe Malfunctions

I recently uttered a sentence I never, never, never thought I would say: I need a sewing machine. I don’t quilt, crochet, or knit. I tried rug hooking once, but couldn’t get the hook dislodged from the wall after I threw it. I have, it is true, been known to cross stitch, but not with any real skill. Although I did cross stitch a bird silhouette with the motto “Tweet Deez” for a friend, and it turned out nicely. But there’s no door between my kitchen and dining room. So you see the need.

There are a few things believe to be true about a house. One is that I find it barbaric to have a bathroom directly off a bedroom. The other is that one should not have to look at how the sausage got made when one sits down to eat said sausage. At some point in my home’s history the swinging door between the kitchen and dining room was taken off. I can see some conflict with where the door probably rested when opened. It’s not a large dining room. You’d have to be careful not to pop a guest in the back when coming through the door. It is my desire to keep from unintentionally smacking a guest in the gourd with a swing door that has lead me to decide a curtain might be a better option. This will need to be sewn. Also, I change out pillows and seat cushions roughly every other month. It gets tiresome hand-sewing pillow covers. And? The only good part of that movie with Kirsten Dunst and Ryan Gosling where he plays the creepy guy who dresses as a woman at some point and probably killed Kirsten Dunst and chopped her into a million pieces is this one dress she wears. It’s just a little ‘70’s style shift made of cotton lawn. I think I could make it. And I will keep thinking that until proven wrong, which will probably be three hours after having purchased fabric to make the dress.

Due to the profound kindness of a few family members, I have a new-to-me sewing machine. It has lots of pieces. I don’t know what any of them do yet. Well, I can figure out what the buttonholer attachment does, but making something with buttonholes is about as much an option as squeezing some Kingsford to make me a diamond ring.

The other hand-me-down I ended up with is a pair of leather New Balance walking shoes. I KNOW! From a distance they look like regular trainers.They fit me perfectly. If you’ve ever seen my feet you understand what a miracle of sport shoe engineering this is. They make my feet feel like fluffy bunnies are mating on cotton candy clouds. They are awesome, and I will never disparage ugly walking shoes again.

The other day I had some stuff to do around the house, and that usually involves paint. As a preemptive measure I’d put on one of my designated painting shirts. Truth? Most of my shirts are designated painting shirts. I can get paint on a shirt just looking at paint chips. It’s a disease. Same with food. I used to think my friends were psychic when they could tell me what I had for lunch. This particular paint shirt is a men’s big-n-tall denim special I got sometime during the Clinton administration. I had to make groceries so I threw on my swanky new walking shoes, buttoned up my denim shirt, and got in the station wagon full of a sewing machine and its table that hadn’t made their way inside yet. I looked like I was on my way to pick up my sister wife.

Normally when I’ve got on my paint-splattered clothing, I fool myself into thinking I look artsy. I get out of my funky little retro-styled wagon, bebop around with a bag my husband got me from Ten Thousand Villages, and think, “I’m an artiste! I don’t look like a middle aged woman who’s off her meds! I look ARTSY!!” I find if I think to myself in exclamation points, it helps keep me delusional. This time all my look said was, “Yes, checkout person, I have a binder full of coupons that will force you to ring up my basket of groceries in FOUR separate transactions! And while we’re talking, don’t you think that Redbook cover is a little racy for the checkout aisle?”

When I was little I used to put pantyhose on my head to make long hair. I think my adult version of that is pretending my paint-splattered wardrobe is artsy rather than pathetic. I have come to peace with that. Also? I ROCK those walking shoes.

The Breakup

“I’m leaving you with ‘Foreign Affairs’ and ‘Blue Valentine’, but I’m taking ‘Closing Time’. I’ll leave the record player. I’ll be able to pick one up in Tallahassee. I think you should keep all the Dylan.”

“No, really, you’re too kind.”

“The sarcasm is unnecessary. I know you’re pissed.”

“Pissed doesn’t begin to cover it,” I spat out the words and threw at least two REM imports and a Pixies EP to the floor. “You show up–blow in, really–and spend all this time making me think…”

“I didn’t make you think anything. I pointed out things.”

She tossed her auburn hair behind her shoulder, grabbed it, and twisted it into some sort of magical updo that held without pins or ribbons and managed to look both disheveled and charming. She could do that. She did that all the time. Her highlights were perfectly placed. Never too chunky, never too obvious. Did she have them done? She’d smile and quote an old Miss Clairol ad. Apparently, only her hairdresser knew for sure. Her hair was not an issue until recently. It was just a part of her. Now, it was another person in the room, mocking me.

“I want you to know this isn’t easy for me either,” She dropped an Anne Sexton anthology into her Tod’s bag, “I’ve gotten as much as I’ve given in this relationship. It doesn’t always happen that way.” She glanced in the mirror and removed an invisible speck of something from the corner of her mouth and brushed her bangs out of her eyes.

I walked up to her, looked in the mirror at her, at me. “You’re not using the eye cream, are you?” Her own eyes were bright, shining, the fact she never slept going unnoticed by the absence or puffy skin or dark circles. I felt dumpy, tired, ugly next to her. That was a first. Normally, I shone in her presence. The lumpy ass, the extra chin, the lack of muscle tone didn’t matter. Radiance was replaced with regret. Regret I’d given up running and biking to make more time for…well, none of that would do any good. She was leaving.

“You won’t be gone long, will you?”

“You don’t need me like you think you need me.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

“It will. Maybe not now or tomorrow, but it will.”

“Could you possibly be more trite? I’d like to take notes on how it’s done.”

“See? The sarcasm is yours, not mine.”

“Cal, please…”

“NO! I’m meeting Thalia and Erato in Tallahassee. There’s a guy working on a screenplay who needs us. Listen, you knew I couldn’t stay forever. Hey, don’t cry. Keep ’Closing Time’. I don’t think this guy is going to respond to Waits anyway.”

Angry and dejected, I sat at my computer, the glow of the empty Google document a burden rather than a possibility. If she was going to leave me, at least it gave me one last story.

I began to type.

It’s All About Pacing

Four times I sat down yesterday to tell you a story. Four times I forgot what I was going to say. If this is how the aging process works, I want no part of it. Can I remember that in 1976 my mother sold my yellow vanity table in a garage sale? Yes, I can. Do I know that Kevin Costner was to play Alex in The Big Chill and is still visible as the corpse in the opening sequence? Yes, I do. Do I know that Millard Fillmore supposedly introduced the bathtub to The White House, but there is some controversy over that fact? Yes, I’m aware of that. I’ve a head for trivia and a body for…well, trivia.

I looked in the mirror yesterday and all I could think was JOWLS. Where did those jowls come from? It is a special time in any girl’s life when something formerly only used to describe a lesser cut of pig can now be used to describe her face. This is heightened by the fact that I’ve recently lost some weight, and it shows in my face. Happy on the whole, yes, but fat is the best wrinkle filler. In fact, I’m trying to come up with a home fat-injection system. I want to call it DerrièreVisage. I think the name speaks to how it will work. It will also double as a flavor injector for chicken and turkey, so I think it’s really got some potential. Anyway, I really noticed an excess of skin the other day when I was putting on eye shadow. The applicator pulled my eyelid skin. And it stayed like that. It looked like my skin was made of sort of a purple-y crumpled tissue paper. I considered dropping my usual firming eye cream in favor of a steam iron, but that just seemed like more work than it was worth.

I think I was just hyper-aware of my impending crepey -ness because I had to go to a wedding last weekend. I am in the sort of delta between most of my friends already being married, and their children getting married. I don’t have to go to a lot of weddings these days, for which I am ever thankful. The Adorable Couple is not too much younger than I—I think he is six years younger, but she is more in the neighborhood of ten or more. So, wait. That nets out at what, eight? Thirty is a lot different than thirty-eight. Which brings me to my point.

You kids do not know how to pace yourself with the booze. You guys pregame. There’s no finesse to pregaming. There’s no art to it. You pound back four or five shots before you get to your destination and you’re puking in the rose bushes before the first score/toast/cop arrives. Now, see, back in my day, we kept it to a couple of beers or a couple of shots at most. The object was to keep a nice mellow drunk throughout the festivities so the only rose bushes you were puking in were your parents’.

A young gentleman stopped by our table at the reception and the talk turned to the torture he supposedly suffered as a lad by my husband and brother-in-law. I asked him where his scar was. It seems no one has escaped a scar if one has spent any time with The Boys. And let me stop future comments on this issue right now: Yes, I have one. Yes, I’ll show it to you. No, I won’t tell you how I got it. Dinner was not even finished and this guy was already talking in the non sequitur of the drunk. When asked what business he was in these days, he began a rambling dissertation on food delivery. Was he a delivery man? In logistics?  Perhaps he was developing a greener product to replace those plastic tripods used to keep the pizza box from infringing on the cheese’s territory? It remains a mystery.

Oh, but let’s give credit where credit is due, for he was certainly not the only binger there. One rather gregarious young lady busted out The Humpty Dance for the second song of the evening. Fortunately—or unfortunately for some, I suppose—she managed not to bust out of her rather ill-fitting halter dress. The only explanation I have for several friends of The Adorable Couple waving their hands in the air like they just didn’t care during a unique cover of “Dancing in the Dark” was a heavy hand in pouring the lemon drops that had to have been guzzled during the ride from the church.

The drunkenness of the younger guests could be measured by the fluency of what Tom Wolfe has called the “fuck patois”. I’m sure, had we stayed longer, we’d have heard language devolve into an even more bastardized state where entire conversations are had by uttering no more than fuuuuuuh, maaaan or ummmm druuuuhhh, y’aaaaal.

Pacing, my husband says. It’s all about pacing. One good friend is a fan of the bathtub drunk. You come in from a long run on a cold day, pour a couple of fingers of bourbon, get in a hot tub, and proceed to get “all squity and smerky.” My father does not like a heavy hand at the bar. “Pour it light,” he says, “I’ll be here all night.” I went through a slightly annoying phase of drinking aperitifs such as Campari and soda with a twist of lime.  Light alcohol, and therefore not a regular presence in bars at the time. All that seems so much more civilized than sucking back airplane bottles of blue, coconut-flavored grain alcohol or—and I swear to the little six pound, eight ounce baby Jesus this exists—Goo Goo Cluster flavored liqueur.

Now I don’t drink too much at all. Various medications, the affliction of alcohol-induced heartburn, and the need for better sleep have pushed out the booze in my Traditional Fall Burn Shit and Drink Beer Sundays. And my Wine Wednesdays. And our Date Nite Double Shots™. The only problem with all that is sobriety sure accentuates my damn jowls.