Saturday, February 12, 2005

I Feel Pretty.

Being as I had a caesarian, and was given all of the drugs that had been denied me for the previous nine months, a lot of my daughter’s birth is less first-person recollection than third-person anecdote for me. However, for the first two years of her life, I would have sworn to you that I felt some bizarre indignities to my abdomen, and then heard a voice say “You’ve got a lovely little girl”. After her second birthday I started to wonder whether that person had said “You’ve got the girliest girl ever born north of the Mason-Dixon Line”.

This certainly was nothing that I had nurtured, or could have seen coming. She had worn a few dresses for major events, but most of her clothing was of the “You can crawl and vomit in it, and still look presentable” category. Girl baby clothes looked too tricky for me. There always seemed to be an extra layer that would finish the outfit, and I couldn’t see myself flying around the house screaming “Has anyone seen her pistachio-colored crinoline?” Somewhere around twenty six months, however, my daughter became an acolyte in the cult of pink. It took her no more than three months of vile temper tantrums when forced to wear any other color before I became the mother in the store hissing frantically at the sales person, “Then tell me what store does have this in pink in a 3T.”. She refused to wear a denim jacket until I put pink flowers on it. I don’t think that this is inherited: my mothers’ default clothing color is navy, and Consort’s mother seems to be able to wear all sorts of colors without lying on the ground and screaming. Nor can I blame it on peer influence, as my daughter looked to her contemporaries at that age for nothing more than new ways to fling sand. This was her destiny, my small daughter as Joseph Campbell hero.

Time has passed, and mercifully she has loosened up a bit. Pink is still the ideal, but there is room for the other pastels. She has also created her very own look. Dresses should be fitted with full skirts, worn with knee socks and patent leather shoes. Given her head, my daughter resembles a child in a 1950’s school film about traffic lights. I have no objection. It’s adorable, and it doesn’t take any real effort from either of us anymore, as I know where to get all the elements. So, she has moved on to her next project. She has decided to become Stylist to the Indifferent. That is to say, me.

If my daughter is in a 1950’s school film, I am dressed for a music video set in Seattle, the Nirvana years (maybe I am the bassist for a band called Sleep Deprived). I buy my clothing from catalogues and even if it arrives and isn’t exactly the right color, or doesn’t fit quite right, I forget to send it back in time and end up wearing it. It’s all about least possible effort for me. Really, I am one step away from saying to Consort “Honey, as long as you’re going to Costco to get tires, could you get me some bras?” It’s not as if I don’t like fashion, but I have lived through certain fashion trends three times already in my adult life. Metallic eye shadow, for example, was unflattering to me twice; I’m not heading there again. We won't discuss the mirthless little bark that I let out when I saw something like knickers on the runway. And why was I going to buy cargo pants a couple of years ago when I knew from past painful experience that they make me look like a Humvee? In the style wars, I am Switzerland. But my daughter is not prepared to let this go quite yet. In that graceful, insistent way of hers that I associate with beauty pageant coordinators and that guy on “Queer Eye”, she keeps trying to get me to walk towards the light side. In high heels, of course.

I was getting dressed to take her somewhere, about to slip my feet into loafers. Daughter stared at the shoes in poorly concealed disgust, and then brightened.” I know some wonderful shoes for that outfit”, said she and skittered into my closet, bringing out a vertiginous pair of heels that I wore once, during which time they soldered all of my toes into a funnel. I said gently “Yes, they would look nice with my khaki pants and the button-down that is missing three buttons, but I don’t have a matching lipstick for those shoes”. Got to speak to them in their own language.

And yet she keeps trying. I choose to be flattered that I merit this much attention, rather than focus on how awful she must find my appearance. When she isn’t reminding me that I would look so much better if only I put on a little blush, she is pulling me over to a magazine stand and pointing to the model on the cover of Cosmo, saying “You should get that. In pink.” If you gave her a black American Express card, I would resemble Donatella Versace.

The most recent Teaching Moment came when we were in the grocery store. The store was crowded, and even though she is entirely too big, I had her up on my hip. I was waiting for change, and not paying too much attention to the tiny fingers plucking at my head, when she said quite loudly “Why do you never color your hair?” I told her that I thought that my hair color was fine, and she refused to make eye contact with me for half an hour. I guess that a stylist can only stand so much.


Blogger Karen said...

I too had a daughter tha was more girly than I ever was, and she'd spend over an hour getting her hair to be perfect for school (age 11, just wait!). And when we'd go to the mall, it seemed every trip she'd have to ask me loudly how old I was.

And I just wanted to let you know I came across your blog last night, and love it. Very smart writing, and very VERY funny. Have you thought of putting it into book form? Photos would be nice, but I'm happy just reading it. Had to start at the beginning, and I email sections to myself to read at work (during lunch of course).

Again, thanks for the gem that is your blog!

11:16 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

p.s. and please ignore my bad typing/typos. i relly should be asleep by now.

11:18 PM  

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