Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Blind Faith

You find the weirdest things in other peoples’ blind spots.

At Gymnastics today, we Parents of Whirling Children were talking about TV shows we liked. I mentioned “30 Days”, a new documentary series on FX by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who gave us “Super Size Me”.

I explained to the parents who hadn’t seen it that “Super Size Me” is a funny, horrible and fascinating look at what happens to the body of a documentary filmmaker (Spurlock) after eating only McDonald’s food -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- for 30 days. This led to a conversation about what we fed our kids. One father was particularly emphatic about what we’re doing to our kids’ health in America:

“…Too much processed food! That’s why so many of them are fat. You go to places like France and China, you don’t see them eating so much fast food. It’s fresh, what they eat there. The body metabolizes fresh food better...”

Having never been to China or studied nutrition, I wasn’t prepared to agree or disagree; but at least he seemed to be genuinely concerned about what kids were eating. Up to that point, I had been talking with him without actually looking at him, being as I was distracted by the exercise Daughter was doing, which seemed to be titled Concussion in Three Easy Steps. Now, however, Daughter was waiting in line to break her neck in some new way, and my eye naturally followed my conversation buddy’s daughter as she ran over to her health-conscious father…

…and grabbed the bag of Doritos and Big Gulp he was holding for her.

She inhaled a handful of crunchy orange triangles and a mouthful of some brown liquid and headed back to class.

I winced in empathy, having been caught in moments of hypocrisy so many times myself. Then I stared off into space so he shouldn’t have to look directly at me while he explained…what? His daughter had a life threatening lack of cheese like powder in her body? There was only the slightest pause before he continued his tirade.

“…As I was saying, the European people have it right. How hard is it to feed your kids well?”

I goggled at him discreetly, probing his delivery for any possible tones of irony. Finding none, I flipped open a four-year-old gymnastics magazine so I could contemplate the Personal Blind Spot undistracted by further contradictions.

The PBS is that place where your decision-making abilities plummet downwards in inverse proportion to your sky-rocketing convictions. If you like your new perfume, that is not a Personal Blind Spot. If you refer to the scent as your “Signature fragrance” and you wear the perfume as a soap, body cream and cologne and in such quantities that swarms of bees follow you, that’s a Personal Blind Spot.

Any man who has ever grown out a single hair and created a comb-over of such complexity that it resembles a macramé hammock is suffering from a PBS.

The mother who informs me her fifteen year-old had cigarettes in her bedroom because “she confiscated them from her best friend” and had alcohol on her breath because she was “making chocolate chip cookies at a friend’s house and wanted to check the freshness of the vanilla” might actually keel over from her Personal Blind Spot.

There is a friend of my family who will tell you how, thanks to not eating white sugar, she hasn’t had a cold in twenty years. Two problems with this: 1) she eats white sugar nearly every day, but since each time is a “special occasion”, it doesn’t count, and 2) she gets a severe case of bronchitis or pneumonia every winter. Textbook PBS.

A person who refers to a finished basement with a DVD player in it as a Media Room, however, suffers not from PBS but from DOG -- Delusions of Grandeur – an entirely different disorder.

Of course, this all comes back to ME. I too have a Personal Blind Spot. I just don’t know what it is. There is something I do, say, wear or eat which has made friends of mine at some point look at one another and shrug in that expressive “I know, but are you going to tell her?” sort of way. The mere thought of this gives me the yips. I must know where my big delusion hides.

It can’t be my wardrobe. I’ve never said my clothing was attractive or flattering. I do believe it will keep me from being arrested for indecency. And if you remember my definition of Personal Blind Spot, the afflicted person has to believe deeply in it. Clothing becomes a PBS when you believe in the possibility of transformation:

“Nicole Kidman looks lovely in pink ruffles. I will wear pink ruffles, and people will confuse me for a woman fifteen years my junior and ten inches taller.”

“The horizontal stripes on these pants make my butt look smaller because the stripe is black, and black is thinning.”

“I wore a size eight comfortably for a week, ten years ago, right after my gall bladder surgery. Ergo, I am a size eight!”

In my case, realistic expectations of my closet pretty much assures me no place on any Best-dressed list. But I don’t make any major gaffes, either.

I think.

It could be the food, but I have discussed my weirdness before. Not only am I generally uninterested in food, I have virtually no sense of smell. This renders most culinary experiences, for me, mere variations on texture. I can eat the same meal three times a day for many days on end; you can’t be bored if you don’t care. Again, unlikely place for Personal Blind Spot.

And then, just while writing this, I found my Personal Blind Spot. I have had ten nails of approximately the same length for several days now, and have been treating them with the delicacy and attention you associate with breeding Pandas in captivity (I had a night-vision camera trained on my nails at night, while I slept, for security purposes). So imagine my rage when I looked down and saw a big fissure, left hand, ring finger. And right down near the quick, if you must know.

I ran and got an emery board and squared off the nail while railing against the gods “How did this happen? I’ve been keeping them buffed and polished. I use gloves when washing dishes. I… I…“

I stopped mid-thought and mid-file. I have lousy nails. They have the consistency of balsa wood and splinter if you raise your voice. Over my entire life, I have had ten long nails for ten short months: specifically, nine months of pregnancy and another thirty days spread over the remaining thirty-something years. I could start the Museum of Failed Nail-Care Products. And yet, somehow, I still believe devoutly I am meant to have long nails. I would swear to this in a court of law.

It’s irrational, it’s heartfelt, and it’s my Personal Blind Spot!

Unless, of course, my real Personal Blind Spot is using the nail issue as camouflage for my true demon...

I’m going to bed.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Kate said...

Now I'm pondering the question of what is my PBS? There are so many possibilities...Good luck with the nails. I actually have emory (sp?) boards stationed in various parts of the house, in case I ever have a good nail week.

I'm really enjoying going back and reading some of your earlier posts. I think my favorite is "Once I was Lost" because it's so reminscent of my family. Growing up, misplaced items in the home were blamed on the housekeeper. When she retired (and went on an immediate 6-month prayer retreat), items continued to vaporize and reappear. Dad's wallet was found in the freezer; Mom's book was found inside a folded fitted sheet in the linen closet. I started to worry about genetics...By the way, Concussion in 3 Easy Steps would be an interesting name for a punk ballet.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

To the best of my knowledge, we have never sent a housekeeper into an extended period of contemplation.

I bow to your family's abilities.

8:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home