It starts out like any other shopping trip to the mall … a very vague idea of something that I need to buy to wear to some specific occasion that I usually don’t want to attend, because I don’t have anything to wear. Well, actually, I have several things that I could wear but they won’t do because (pick one) I look fat, my waist looks weird, my legs look funny, it’s old, I’ve worn it too many times, and on and on!
So, off I go, usually with a very crunched time and even crunchier budget, and with a very definite goal of finding something that will knock my better half’s socks off! Okay, I would settle for a little expression in his voice when he looks up briefly, and mumbles, “Oh, you look nice, honey.” This is it! The magic day that I will saunter into the store, scoop up an armful of pants, skirts, dresses, what the hell, whatever they have in my size that even looks like it could make me pretty, desirable, thinner, and ravishing in just half an hour in the fitting room. I jump on the escalator confidently, stride into the first department, and I begin my quest …
Two hours later, I march triumphantly back to my car, checking my watch, and calculating the time that it will take me to slap on a decent coat of full makeup, buzzshave my legs, and then do something with my hair, which has just been luxuriously washed and blow dried at the mall salon, so it will look EXTRA nice, instead of sticking out in uneven lumps where the hot rollers just don’t seem to go with the flow of my bumpy head.
I babble about my shopping successes when I rush in, flinging my new-found treasures about, while assuring him that I will most definitely be ready, oh yes, I’m thinking, I’ll be READY at the agreed upon departure time. Yes sirree, boy will he be surprised when he sees me—hey, I even bought a new push-up bra. Yes, I did!
But wait, there is a frown on his handsome face—what now? What, what, whaaaat now? Did he eat? Is he upset because I’m late? Whaaaaaaat? Can’t he see I actually found something new? Ok, I don’t care, I’ll let it go, because I’m going upstairs to change, I’ll be back, and wa-la! He’s gonna act differently then, I just know it!
Forty-five minutes later, (yeah, I know, fifteen minutes later than I said, but we can still be on time!) I flounce downstairs, clip-clop into my kitchen on my not really high enough high heels, but still, kinda sexy/cute enough, and announce “I’m ready!” He turns, looks at me, SORT OF smiles, says, “You look nice—we better get going, or we’re going to be late.”
WHAT THE HELL? I thought I looked pretty good, not drop-dead gorgeous, not anything to divert attention from the sexy young things who always greet you at the “in” restaurant where the business dinner is being held, but WHAT THE HELL? Maybe I’m too sensitive, I tell myself in the car, maybe I’m expecting too much. He’s a good hubby, and always considerate, and usually, in the past, had made an effort to compliment me, or to notice a new outfit. So, is it ME? Sure, I’ve gained a few pounds, and the years have added some new “character” lines to my face, but hey! Unless you visit your friendly neighborhood plastic surgeon, it happens to everyone! For Pete’s sake, I even endured the little “looks like age sixteen, maybe!” hairstylist who washed and blow-dried my hair, all the while looking sympathetically at my hair without saying anything. I ignored her, because she actually did a decent job, I thought.
I decided to forget it. So, I enjoyed the attention from the maître-d’ and servers (who cares if it’s their job? It’s still enjoyable!) Loved the food, and even enjoyed the conversation with our tablemates. So, at the end of this pleasurable evening, on the way home, I waited. For what? I’m not sure … an epiphany from my husband, that he had somehow ignored the ravishing creature who had been all snazzed up for him? Nope, nada, not gonna happen … and it didn’t. What I got was a quick kiss, a “Man, it’s after 11, gotta go to work early tomorrow …” and that was that! Well, not quite. About an hour after lying on the sofa still dressed in my new outfit, (but without the belt, dang, that was tight!), feeling sorry for myself, but still interested in the old ER episode on cable, there was an epiphany, but it was mine! And here it is, if my self-esteem is always going to conditionally depend on someone else’s, opinion of me, then I am always going to be doomed! In the past, with my physical body in its prime, I KNEW I looked good. Now, in middle age, sure there are physical changes in my body that I have adjusted to, but I’ve been neglecting the changes in mental attitude that also need to be tweaked sometime.
I ended up doing that little self mental smack to myself (what were you thinking, you big dummy!) as I said a little affirmation of gratitude that I truly have a good husband, I am in relatively good health, and that if I need a compliment that badly, then I will look in the mirror, give that good looking hot mama a once over, and declare, “Damn, lady—you look good!”