Saturday, May 17, 2008

You Can Take The Girl Out of New York: But You Can't Take The New York Out of the Girl

Hubby and son are out of town this weekend watching NKOTB and The Jonas Brothers in concert. Daughter and I are home alone. I ask my lovely pre-teen out to dinner and a movie, imagining quality mother/daughter time but am flatly R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D for time with her MacBook. (I try looking hurt but she doesn't fall for the Jewish guilt thing - damn!)

So I make the best of the humiliation situation and lay down to read a book of essays I'd just taken out of the library. Two hours later, hair matted down and mascara smudged, I wake up disoriented, not knowing if it is day or night. Half asleep I run down the stairs to make sure everything is okay. Daughter is on the couch where I left her, still on the computer, dog is sleeping next to her. I feel like days have gone by, she didn't even notice I was gone.

You may think this is going to be a post about restricting daughter's computer time, working on her priorities (i.e. me). But no. This post is not about her. It's about me.

Because after I woke from the dead it was 8pm and we hadn't eaten dinner. I called a local restaurant (the one my husband refuses to patronize and the only place in town with a full bar - can you say packed on weekends?) to order yummy Japanese.

Now I've said before, I live in a casual California beach town; flip flops, sun dresses, minimal makeup. So while I did run my fingers under my eyes to erase the skid marks, I didn't bother fixing my hair or reapplying cover-up to the pimple on my chin. It didn't dawn on me until I got to the restaurant that I'd be picking my order up at the bar - said bar where the young hang out in their tee shirts and shorts, being all Beach Boy cool, and drinking pina coladas and pomegranate martinis.

I wait and I wait while a guy flirts with the bartender and she with him. He is standing in the cramped spot designated for take out orders. I stand behind two girls leaning back in their bar chairs, citrus-infused vodka coursing through their bloodstreams, and gossiping about a mutual "friend".

These days, in my 40's, I generally walk around with a positive attitude, a lightness of being. I smile, don't take things too seriously or get easily agitated. (FYI - this is a long way from the angry, brooder that was me at 20 and 30). But standing here, ignored by the bartender, unnoticed by the guy, and stared down by the two girls, a bitter taste rises up. My negative inner voice, rarely heard from of late, shouts, "You 're doing the walk of shame, babe. With your bird's nest hair, your smudged owl eyes, and your stinky breath, you're like Amy Winehouse right before rehab. And DO NOT get me started on that crusty piece of ugly on your chin. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?! Of course, they're ignoring you!

I'm mature now. I've evolved. I've had enough therapy to recognize the voice for what it is - an insecure bully gaining strength by making me weak. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I squelch the little bastard, shift my stance, and non verbally demand the bartender's attention.

"Are you waiting for an order?" she asks as if seeing me for the first time.
"Yes, I am," I smile with an ever-so-subliminal "you suck" thrown in for good measure.

The guy finally moves out of the way to allow me to pay. One of the girls whose back is now toward me, keeps turning her head around to check me out. She says nothing but arches her back to look at me no less than three more times.

WTF? Does she think I'm single, ordering for myself on a Friday night and going home alone to watch Tivo? Is she throwing a pity party for me - poor ugly duckling, she has no life? Or am I the gruesome train wreck and she's the curious looky-lou?

I subtly tilt the fingers on my left hand toward her so she can see my wedding band. I repeat my order to the bartender so she can hear I've ordered food enough for two and then I realize she might think I'm depressed and bingeing.

I can't believe how desperate I am. I have no problem dining alone in public. I love going to the movies by myself. I did it for years out of necessity and now I do it by choice. I like my own company. But feeling unattractive and feeling judged to be unattractive by others, old insecurities come flooding back and so do the defenses. I wonder - have I really evolved into a self-assured woman or have I merely changed by circumstance - hiding behind a curtain of self-worth known as marriage and family?

The woman cranes her neck again to look at me. I continue looking straight ahead but mumble in my best New York tough, "What the f#*k are you looking at?"

She must have heard me because she did not turn around again. I take my order and leave. I feel badly about the bitchy regression, but I feel kind of good, too.

I mean, "What the f@*k was she looking at?"


Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Yes! Awesome post! I could so feel your frustration/anger/emotional switch flip. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail miserably at going out all frumpy to such a scene like you did. It's hard when you're by yourself because there's noone else to gang up with on them and show THEM who's cool.

It's a pose-off, of sorts.
Internally you're winning. Externally they are.
The question is, which one counts and is it OK with you that they don't think you are the one winning? Even though you are. Dammit! You are. Stupid kids. Don'tcha just wanna ring their smooth flawless necks?

InTheFastLane said...

I mean, come on...that staring seemed a little over the top, even for the most secure person in the whole world.

ByJane said...

Okay,here was the problem. You forgot the cardinal rule of attire in LA: when you are on stage, you must be in costume. Age doesn't really enter into it, except that it's REALLY on your mind! And what the f**k was she looking at, anyway????

merlotmom said...

You guys crack me up!! thanks!
Jane, that's why I live at the beach, I don't like to be on stage, I don't like to wear costumes, I don't like to pose - I just want to go out looking like a slob if I feel like it and everyone else can just shut their trap about it. Especially the young ones with the smooth, flawless necks. F*#k 'em.

mac said...

Maybe she thought you were a celebrity trying to be incognito. Ever think of that?

Dawn said...

Lately, when I find myself in a similar situation, I can't help but wonder if the youngling judging me will look back from a point similar to mine, and feel guilty for being such a bitch.

Good for you for summoning your inner strength and walking out in control of the situation.

slouching mom said...

oh, do i hear you on this one.

i live in a college town.

'nuf said?

Greg said...

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