Tag Archives: personal

Driver’s Ed

24 Oct

I’m so thankful for the perspective I’ve gained with age. At 25, it’s now clear to me that most of the things I spent my youth agonizing over weren’t that bad. Do I even remember all the tests I studied for or the boys I liked? No. One experience, however, will always stick in my mind as something that deserved all the misery and anguish; an experience so singularly awful that I’m constantly awash in gratitude that I never have to suffer through it again. That experience is, of course, Driver’s Ed.

Much like everything else in my life, when it came to driving, I was a late bloomer. Like most kids who grow up in rural environments, I dreamed of the day I could get in a car and speed away from the cows, cornfields, and truck nuts. After all, driving symolizes everything you can’t do as a kid, the total loss of automation you feel when you can’t rely on public transportation or walking. When you live in the country, driving is the only way to get anywhere.

When I was 14, my family was involved in a serious car accident, and any driving ambition I had flew out the same window I had to crawl out of when I couldn’t open the crumpled Buick door. It was an experience that upsets me even today, but at the time it was all I could think about. I put off learning to drive; I got my permit, but let it expire and had to retake the test. Eventually, when my best friends signed up for Driver’s Ed, I knew I had to get it over with. Or my parents forced me. I don’t remember.

What I needed at the time was the vehicular equivalent of one of my childhood swim teachers; someone who understood how scared I was, someone who encouraged me but didn’t push too hard, someone who realized I wasn’t ever going to learn to dive so there wasn’t any point in making me stand on the diving board for ten minutes. That’s what I needed. What I got was Mr. Vaughn.

I imagined driving school would be in a classroom. We’d sit at desks and I could pass notes to my friends. Instead, when we showed up for a 2-hour class, we were greeted by a cramped room packed with folding chairs. We had assigned seats and I sat next to a boy our teacher referred to only as “Mr. Browning.” He had little interest in talking to me, instead preferring to lean over my lap to talk to a girl my friends and I nicknamed “Tan Belly” because of her tendency to wear half-shirts that exposed her tanning-booth bronze.

Mr. Vaughn himself was a vision in grey. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m exaggerating for the point of clarity, and maybe my memory’s just betraying me, but I really can’t remember him ever wearing anything except for a grey t-shirt (like the ubiquitous flag t-shirts Old Navy sold for pennies every July 4th), a grey baseball cap, and grey knit shorts. It was the kind of outfit you’d wear to work out, only he wasn’t working out; he was teaching a class of 15-16 year olds the basics of operating expensive and dangerous machines.

Mr. Vaughn was going through a divorce, which we knew becuase he told us. Often. It wasn’t an amicable parting. I ruminated on this question: Did his bad attitude cause the breakup of his marriage, or did the breakup of his marriage cause his bad attitude? He couldn’t get through a lesson on parallel parking without casually berating a girl in the front row for playing with her bracelets, saying something cynical, or telling us a far-too-personal story. My favorite involved Mr. Vaughn, whose wife had taken their dog, putting his now-useless doghouse on the curb with a sign advertising its cost. I don’t know if this happens where you live, but in rural Ohio this sort of honor-system sidewalk sale is a pretty common way for someone to get rid of an old rototiller or 4-wheeler. That day before class, Mr. Vaughn told us, he’d watched from the window of his house as two men loaded his doghouse into their truck. Too scared to go out and confront them, he’d watched them drive away without paying. He told this story with the affect-less narration of a psychopath detailing a horrific murder.

I was understandably dreading my driving time with Mr. Vaughn. Not only was I terrified of cars, but I didn’t want to be alone with him in a confined space for two hours at a time. Mr. Vaughn would often pick us up to drive right after he worked out. If you’ve never been in the front seat of a Driver’s Ed car with a bitter divorcee who just sweated out his demons, well then, you just haven’t lived. Oh, and did I mention our car was a Geo Metro? Yes, the Geo Metro.

Mr. Vaughn often made us drive him around on his errands, which meant he was using work time to do personal shit. I’m pretty sure that was illegal or at least frowned upon, but no one said anything about it. Once I had to take him to the health department so that he could get a vaccination. I waited in the Geo Metro for 15 minutes, relived that this counted towards my driving time. He came out clutching his arm and as he slid into the low Metro seat he said, “Don’t punch me in the arm for awhile.”

I also took him to the bookstore, the Wendy’s drive-thru (“Don’t get so close you leave a blue streak on the wall,” he was fond of saying) where he always ordered multiple sandwiches, and the bank’s drive thru. Once, while making a deposit, the tube vaccuumed up his deposit slip and he leaned over me to yell into the intercom, “Could I get two suckers?”

I was touched by his thoughtfulness and kind of weirded out that he’d ask for a child’s favor from the bank. Perhaps I’d misjudged him; maybe he wasn’t so bad.

The tube whirred into life and sent his receipt back. He stuck the suckers in his glove compartment. “For my kids,” he said. Of course we were not going to enjoy Blue Raspberry Dum Dums together. Of course they were for his kids.

If anything, Mr. Vaughn’s class served to solidify my already significant fear of driving. The only thing I actually gained from the class happened the day Mr. Vaughn bought in all of his old cassette tapes to sell (presumably, the idea of selling things on the curb no longer appealed to him). It was 2002 and no one wanted cassette tapes; we all had Disc Mans and, in a few short years, we’d have iPods. But if you know anything about me, you’ll know that of course I wanted a grey, middle-aged divorcees unwanted tapes. As part of my birthday present, Cat bought me 3 tapes I picked out: Prince’s Purple Rain, George Michael’s Faith, and Wham!’s Make it Big. All three choices I stand by today.

Aside from the jams, I guess I also received some advice from Mr. Vaughn. “If there’s ever a point when you don’t know what to do,” he said once, “just imagine I’m sitting next to you.” Reading the words, it sounds comforting, but it sure didn’t seem that way when he said it. Even though he was clearly talking about driving, my friends and I laughed to think about bringing Mr. Vaughn along everytime we had to make a decision.

“Mr. Vaughn? What dress should I wear to homecoming?” The grey one.

“Mr. Vaughn? What should I have for lunch?” Two Wendy’s burgers and a baked potato.

I never got comfortable driving that car with the bastion of negativity seated beside me. “You’re too cautious,” he told me once when I hesitated at an intersection. I narrowed my eyes and my lips formed an angry, straight line. I didn’t say anything, because I knew that there weren’t any words I could use to describe the slideshow of twisted metal, broken glass, and blood that played in my head whenever I got in a car. Too cautious? Please.

One of the best things about getting older is being able to say, “Well, at least I’ll never have to do that again.” High school. A shitty summer job. Sadie Hawkins dances. Group projects. Driver’s Ed. I drove by the old Driver’s Ed building a few weeks ago and saw that it was no long there; now the building holds some sort of motorcycle shop. I wonder what Mr. Vaughn is doing now, if he remarried, if he’s alone, if he’s still bitter and unhappy. As much as I want to believe he’s happy, I know it’s more likely he’s as grey as ever.

I don’t know where Mr. Vaughn is or what he’s doing, but sometimes when I don’t know what to do I think about him. “You’re being too cautious,” he says in my head. What did he know about taking chances? This man who’d completely shut down emotionally, who existed in a colorless void where he spent most of his time trying to disillusion 16 year olds who were, for the most part, excited to gain the most freedom they’d ever had? Maybe that’s ultimately what I learned from him, more so than maneuverability or how to change lanes. Maybe he’s a reminder not to be so cynical. Maybe he’s a reminder to not ever let life bring me down that low. Maybe he’s always there, sitting beside me, saying, “You’re being too cautious.”

Or maybe he’s a reminder that Geo Metros are the worst cars in the world. Because they are.

Lady Chat: How Do You Make Friends?

19 Oct

As Welcome to Ladyville readers may remember, I recently relocated to a new city. That one change inspired me to make other changes in my life, and one thing I’ve really been wanting to revamp is my social life. I need new friends! Don’t get me wrong; I have friends! Kind of a lot of them, for someone as asocial as myself. There’s never a time that I can’t call up one of a handful of people and make them talk me off a ledge (hopefully not literally), listen to a funny story, or get coffee with me. I’m incredibly lucky. But still, stagnation is something I’m trying to avoid these days, and my friends all have lives, anyway (translation: Cat is in vet school and I can’t make her hang out with me every night). I’m looking to branch out and meet more people, but the problem is this: I have no idea how to make friends. Like, at all. I haven’t really made a close friend since college. I work with almost entirely 50 year old men, and while I’m sure they’d love to grab a brewski sometime, I should probably focus more on people my own age. But how? I’m not in school, either. Help me out, ladies (and gents): how do you make friends?

Speaking of gents, that reminds me of another problem. I have lots of close male friendships I value just as much as my lady friendships, but they are mostly people I’ve known since childhood (or at least high school/college). How does a lady go about making new male friends? Do guys even WANT to be friends with girls they don’t want to sleep with? Am I to believe the gospel of When Harry Met Sally? And how do I talk to someone without seeming like I’m hitting on them? I really loathe shoehorning in a mention of my boyfriend. You know, “Oh, my boyfriend loves that band, too!” It’s always so awkward and obvious, but on one certain occasion when I didn’t drop a casual “I have a boyfriend” because I didn’t even realize a dude was flirting with me, I ended up crying in my car on my lunch break because I’d had to turn someone down and I’d never done that before and it just made me feel so terrible. I would really like to avoid that.

I will accept any and all friends (who aren’t crazy), but here are the specific friends I’m looking for:

-A friend who likes to wake up before 7 a.m. to go out for a very early breakfast. I like to wake up between 5 and 6 a.m., even on my days off, which means I get hungry really early and literally don’t know a single person who wants to go to breakfast with me that early. You guys, by the time brunch rolls around I’ve been starving for hours!

-A friend who likes to drink a bottle of wine and watch Gilmore Girls, because Lauren lives in NYC and I can’t travel there as often as I’d like to do this (twice weekly).

-A friend who likes to sit at a coffeeshop for several hours.

-A friend who likes to go out to a bar, drink several 7 & 7s, then come home and play board games because this is my idea of “going out.”

-A friend who likes to go to boring museums.

-A friend who likes to watch boring documentaries.

-A friend who is down with the idea of “craft night” because there isn’t a single night of my life that I don’t just want to have craft night.

-A friend who wants to talk about Drake for, like, a few hours.

If you know of a way I can meet these people (or if you are these people!!!) get at me. I am a fun lady, I promise! Well, I am a fun lady sometimes. If you are into things like watching documentaries. Okay, so maybe I’m not that fun! Whatever. Otherwise, ladies, what are your tips for making friends? Or do you have these same problems? Let me know in the comments, or e-mail me at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

26 Sep

In a very short time, I’ll be doing something I’ve been wanting to do for, oh, three years now: moving!

I’ve mentioned my yearly goal lists before. This year’s goal list included something that I knew would be difficult for me: moving out of the ‘ville. Truthfully, I never intended to stay here this long after I graduated. Actually, I didn’t plan to stay here at all, but life happened and I needed money and I’m very attached to my family and I’m afraid of change and LONG STORY SHORT it finally hit me this year that I’m very unhappy living here. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who complain about problems that they can easily solve instead of taking action, and yet, here I was. Sending “I’m so lonely” e-mails to my best friend at night because literally not a single friend lived within an hour of me, and there wasn’t a coffeeshop or bookstore within 30 minutes, and they only people I’d seen that day were men over 50 (my coworkers), and I hadn’t made a new friend in approximately forever. I rationalized all the reasons I was stuck. I have a job here! This is a good job! I could never find a place in Columbus I could afford! And on, and on, and on.

But you know what? Do you think when Lady Gaga turned 25 she was like, “Oh, I guess I will just coast through this year doing things the same way I always have.” No way. Lady Gaga never stops reinventing herself, and neither should I. So last week I signed a lease on my dream apartment, and I couldn’t possibly be more excited to move in. I’ll be close to my friends, my favorite stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and probably even some things that don’t involve food. Or, I don’t know, most of the things I’m excited about involve food. Whatever.

I’ve made a lot of changes this year, big and small, and probably to you guys they would all be NBD. But, since we’re all friends here at Welcome to Ladyville, I can admit that I have a hard time with change. I’m most comfortable reading a book on my couch until I forget about the ways I’m unsatisfied. I know you are all surprised by this because I present myself as so cool and together on this blog (ha…kidding, guys). But I made a promise to myself that my 25th year would be my best one yet and that I would do everything I could to make my dreams come true, Hall and Oates style.

I’m excited about where my life’s headed for the first time in a long while. Even though I’m actually going to be dealing with some pretty big inconveniences (I hate the process of moving, and, oh, did I mention I’m keeping my job and will be driving an hour both ways everyday? Like I said, problem with change! And I like my job), I feel like that cliched, metaphorical weight has been lifted off of me. I can’t wait to make new friends, reconnect with my old ones, and explore my interests more fully.

I only intended for this post to explain why I won’t be posting much this week, but I somehow turned it into this cheesy, personal thing. I promise that very soon I’ll be back to talking about Drake, my boobs, Zooey Deschanel, and all the weird stuff I bought at a thrift store. But I also wanted to tell you guys how much it really does mean to me that you read the silly things I post everyday, leave me comments, post links on your Facebook pages, tell your friends about the blog, etc. I am so touched when my friends take time to read the blog, and I’m equally excited when someone I don’t even know personally lets me know that they’ve been reading. The support and encouragement I’ve received from this little blog have given me the courage to do a lot of things I don’t know if I could have done otherwise. I DON’T WANT TO GET TOO EMOTIONAL, YOU GUYS! But I think it’s too late! I love you all!

Anyway, the impending move means I have a lot of packing to do this week. Who has two thumbs, 7 boxes of books, and an inherited tendency to be a pack rat? This girl! So I might not be posting on my typical, every-day-at-6 schedule. Not that I necessarily think you will care or notice, but there it is anyway. Look forward to lots of new posts when I move on topics like: Decorating your home using only things you found at the thrift store! Trying to make new friends while being really socially awkward! Getting really, really skinny because you spent all your money on home decor items and now all you can afford to eat is ramen noodles and frozen vegetables! Trying new restaurants even though you shouldn’t be spending money on restaurants but you have weird priorities! The things you think of when you spend two hours a day in a car! There’s a lot to look forward to.

To Do: See A Movie Alone

22 Sep


I keep a lot of lists; books I’ve read, books I want to read, even some that don’t involve books. I have lists of life goals and lists of daily goals, but my most important list of goals is my yearly list. I started compiling it on my birthday, and while I originally intended to call it “25 for 25,” i.e. 25 things to do in my 25th year, it’s grown past 25 and I’m still adding to it.

I was shocked last month to see how many items I’ve already checked off my list without really noticing. I try to include things that are relatively easy but that I may just need a reminder of (baking a pie!) as well as things that are such big or scary undertakings that I’m not sure I can do them (starting a blog!). One that’s been on my list for awhile is “See a movie alone.”

I don’t mean at home in my living room; I mean in a theatre, that sanctuary for couples in love and family togetherness. The thought of sitting there, alone, in the darkened theatre made me terrified and excited at the same time, so I knew I had to do it. When I had a free Saturday morning/afternoon, I took the chance to check another number off the ol’ “to do” list.

Instead of just heading straight for the movie theatre, head down, shoulders hunched, determined to get this over with, I decided to make a day of it. Take the little lady out on a solo date, really treat her right, you know? I started by wearing shorts in public, something I just started doing for the first time since high school. Shorts send a message to the world around you, and that message is, “Hey, I’m an easy, breezy, regular girl who doesn’t have body anxiety left over from a chubby adolescence and I’m totally okay with showing skin above my knees!” Even if that is not an honest message, I believe in fakin’ it till you make it. I also wore a scarf and big jewelry. Beauty secret: this will make you look bohemian-casual instead of hobo-disheveled.

I took myself to my favorite restaurant, Northstar, so I could enjoy a lovely orange/carrot/ginger/lemon juice without anyone telling me it looked gross. Eating alone is so great; you get to read, and know that if someone notices you sitting alone, they will either think you are lonely and pathetic or badass and independent. That’s a 50/50 chance someone will think you are cool! Probably even higher if you aren’t crying into your napkin.

After that I had some time, so I decided to see where the wind would take me. Turns out the wind took me to a used bookstore, where the wind quite forcefully convinced me to buy 4 books.

Once I got close to the movie theatre, I started to notice that the streets were overrun with a startling number of 20-somethings, bedecked in scarlet, grey, facepaint, and jewelry made out of nuts. In my general cluelessness about sports, I’d forgotten that there was an OSU game that afternoon. I miraculously avoided hitting any revelers, only to find that the movie theatre’s parking garage was now charging a $20 “event parking” charge for the game.

“Do I still have to pay $20 even if I’m going to see a movie, not the game?” I asked, batting the non-existent eyelashes that, according to my overpriced Sephora mascara, were supposed to be 1/4″ longer by now.

“If you’re going to see a movie, I can give you this pass,” he said, handing me a slip of paper. “You get two tickets, a medium popcorn and a medium drink. It’s a total deal.”

I just sat there and telepathically begged him to notice my empty passenger seat. “Is there some way I could save that pass?” I asked. “Because…there’s only one of me.”

“You can see what they’ll do for you once you get in there,” said the parking lot attendant, leaning over my window, “but that’s all I can offer you.” He winced apologetically.

“I’ll take my chances,” I said with a huge sigh, which he found hilarious. So as if I was not aware enough of my aloneness, I was now going to walk into this theatre and be forced to buy two tickets, a popcorn big enough for two, and a soda meant to share. I climbed the stairs and thought about how I could negotiate my way out of this. This was yet another time I wished I had boobs.

As it turns out, I didn’t even need boobs, because as the lone guy working at 11 a.m. could see, I was alone. “Here’s what we’ll do,” he said before I’d even reached the counter. “Since it’s just you, this is a free pass you can use at any point in the next year.” He scribbled on a little piece of green paper and handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I said with unnecessary gratitude, touched by the thoughtfulness of company policy.

“So,” he leaned on the counter. “What would you like to drink?”

There wasn’t a single other person in sight and I felt like I was on some sort of adventurous first date, like in Some Kind of Wonderful when Eric Stoltz takes Lea Thompson to an empty ampitheatre. Except that in the Some Kind of Wonderful of my life I am totally the Mary Stuart Masterson character, and also I’m getting popcorn instead of diamond earrings, which is fine because honestly that’s a better gift for me anyway, and also I think it’s silly to blow your entire college fund on jewelry.

I ordered a Sprite. “Do you like popcorn?” he called over his shoulder.

Do I like popcorn? “Yes,” I said. Of course. What fool would say no?

“Okay, I’ll give you a little extra,” he said, reaching not for the paper bags used for mediums, but instead grabbing that cardboard tub meant for several people to share.

This was quickly becoming the best date ever, and I was the only person on it.

With my American’s-Obesity-Crisis-sized popcorn and high fructose corn syrup laden Sprite balanced in my hands, I made my way to the theatre to see The Future. Miranda July’s newest film seemed like the perfect choice for my 1st solo movie, as I’m pretty sure no one in the world wanted to see it as much as I did. I walked into the theatre with 5 minutes to spare, only to be greeted by rows upon rows of empty seats. I was the only person there.

I sat in the centermost seat and arranged by snacks around me. “When I said I wanted to see a movie alone, I didn’t mean I wanted to see a movie alone,” I said in a Rodney Dangerfield voice while grimacing and tugging on my collar. I did all this in my head, not out loud, so as not to embarrass myself, but since no one else was there, I really could’ve said whatever I wanted or impersonated any comedian I chose and no one would’ve cared.

I really enjoyed the movie. I didn’t even eat half my popcorn OR cry, which is why I consider the day a success. Seeing a movie alone is such a tiny pleasure; the feeling of walking out alone without having to dissect your thoughts with anyone is nice, and really, it’s not like you’d be talking to anyone during the movie anyway. You get to carry that quiet movie trance with you just a little longer. The only downside is that if the movie you’re seeing has a sex scene, you are going to feel like a creep sitting there alone watching it. Like, if someone walks in they are going to assume you’ve turned the theatre into your own private masturbatorium when in reality you’re just trying to watch a movie!

Go see a movie by yourself, ladies. It will make you feel independent and badass and maybe someone will even upgrade your popcorn because they feel sorry for you. You won’t know until you try.

Lady Style: Scarves

21 Sep

I like to say that I have my own sense of style. Usually I’m saying this defensively, which should tell you something about the way I dress. So I’m definitely not recommending you take any fashion advice from me, but I want to tell you that I’m really loving scarves for fall.

For starters, scarves will make you feel like Stevie Nicks (always a good thing). Stevie Nicks is a confident, badass woman, and we should all aspire to be more like her. Scarves are also a really easy way to add some color and interest to what you’re wearing. My “uniform” lately has been sweater/cardigan, dangly earrings, and a scarf. You can put basically no thought into what you’re wearing, throw on a scarf, and look like you planned an outfit. You simultaneously look put-together and bohemian, like Drew Barrymore in any given paparazzi shot.

Most importantly, scarves are insanely cheap. I got my favorite scarf at Gabriel Brothers (if you aren’t familiar/they aren’t in your area, they’re a discount chain, kind of like T.J. Maxx but weirder) for $2. The scarf pictured above was my mom’s in the 80′s. I really treasure it, because Mama W. is the least sentimental person in the world and keeps nothing from her past. She’s the polar opposite of a hoarder, and so she has almost none of her amazing old clothes. This scarf has some pretty sweet gold streaks on it, which makes me feel kind of glamorous.

Drape on a few scarves today! Even (especially) the guys!

Something I Didn’t Realize I Was Serious About Until I Said it Out Loud

1 Sep

“I just want a nice gay man to marry me for insurance benefits, then we can buy a house together.”

I thought that was a joke, but yeah, I’m serious. Here’s my personal ad:

“Non-single white female searching for nice gay man between the ages of 21 and 35* for laughs, platonic love, and Dolly Parton movie marathons. Must want to live in a ramshackle cottage that we can renovate together with our family (one dog, one cat: both must be named after Golden Girls characters). About me: I’m simultaneously needy and standoffish, prone to hunger grumps, and a barrel of laughs/neuroses! Come help me get my mother/grandmother off my case!”

A note: you don’t actually have to be a gay man. Any straight man who isn’t romantically interested in me (i.e., all the straight men) can also apply. The love of Dolly is non-negotiable, though. I have a boyfriend; you have boyfriends, too. Whatever. What happens outside the confines of our marriage will not weaken the bond of our love.

Unrelated: You guys think I will die alone?

*I’m not going to be that strict about this. Like I would not turn down a mature 21 year old or a childish 36 year old.

Memories of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”

31 Aug

1. A girl sang it at an elementary school talent show. My mom told me she thought it was “a little inappropriate,” and at the time I didn’t get it. Um, it’s Celine, Mom. This song is a modern classic. To be fair, she was kind of right. This song is about breakup sex, right?

2. As a fourth grader, I was really into Celine Dion. I got her CD as a birthday gift and brought it into school. My friends and I pored over the liner notes and made one of our teachers define the word “seduce” for us. She said it was when you tried to make someone fall in love with you. Close enough.

3. My friend Dan once recorded his voice mail message to the tune of this song. “Baby, baby, baby/When you call me like this/And I don’t answer like that/Leave a message at the beep/And I’ll get right back to you noooooow.” He changed it when we stopped being kids who never had to deal with professional phone calls.

4. A few minutes ago when I saw this video for the first time in years and remembered how amazing it is.

Words People Have Used to Describe My Appearance

30 Aug

Asian
Unique
Exotic
Almost Asian
Different
Vaguely Ethnic
“Indian or something”

My 4th Grade Diary (or Journal)

25 Aug

For most of my life, I’ve kept journals. Mostly they are embarrassing. If I die and some family member or friend finds my journals, it will be a good thing I’m already dead because otherwise the embarrassment would kill me. Especially bad are the high school years (when I basically barfed my low self esteem and literary pretensions all over my notebooks) and when I had my first college boyfriend (I spent a lot of time applying Sylvia Plath poems to a relationship with a guy who didn’t know who Sylvia Plath was).

The only journal that’s actually tolerable is my 4th grade journal. It’s neon green, black, and white checkered with the words “Petite Miss Diary” emblazoned across the front in hot pink and orange script. It was the first journal I kept, and I wasn’t exactly prolific. Through the year, I managed to give what could only be called half-assed descriptions of my life.

My first entry, in which I list the two most important things about myself:

Jan. 20, 1996
“This is the first page of this diary. Hi! Here is some stuff about me: I like to read. I don’t like gym.”

My second entry, in which I’m already feeling the pressure to produce:

Jan. 21, 1996
“I don’t have much to write. It’s only morning. I’ll probably have something to write later. And you know the thing about how I called this a diary? Well, it’s not. It’s a journal. And like I was saying, just give me time and I’ll come up with something to write.”

In which my nerdiness is already starting to show:

Jan. 29, 1996
“Today in school I forgot my assignment book. It was terrible! Lucky for me, it was one of the days my English teacher didn’t check our books. I was saved.”

In which I have very low standards for what constitutes a good day:

Feb. 14, 1996
“Valentine’s Day! The dance was cool. All my friends were there. The best Valentine’s Day of my life!”

In which my anxiety is already starting to show:

Feb. 21, 1996
“I think I like my life right now. I’m afraid something will happen.”

In which gym class ruins everything:

March 29, 1996
“I sure haven’t updated in a long time! I don’t have anything to tell you. I’m student of the month, though. And I got all A’s on my grade card, except one B+ in gym.”

I like to read and I hate gym: not much has changed in 15 years. I’ll leave you with one last journal entry:

“Today I got a phone call from somebody that said they were my secret admirer. I hung up. I think it was just one of my friends.”

Oddly enough, this is still exactly what I assume and how I act whenever anyone expresses any interest in me.

About A Dress

22 Aug

I have this dress that I bought in high school, meaning I’ve been wearing it for about 10 years. Not 10 years straight–I’ve worn other things in between. It still fits me exactly the same, is remarkably resistant to fading and stretching, and fetches an alarming amount of attention from strange men.

I want to clarify that, although I often write about odd things strangers have said to me, I do not think I’m any great shakes. My self-esteem usually resides somewhere around the 4th subterranean level of the office building that is my spiritual being. When I first greet myself each morning in my toothpaste-flecked bathroom mirror, I’m like, “You again,” and not in a sexy, winking way. No matter how many real-life Stuart Smalley audiobooks I listen to, I’m never going to strut around town like I’m the star of my own video for The Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket.” That’s why it’s all the more remarkable that this dress garners so much attention.

It is, as the copy for a catalog aimed at middle aged women would say, figure flattering. It highlights my waist while hiding my XXL birthin’ hips (side note: I’m confused as to why In Style and the like are always giving me instructions to downplay my hips, when biology/evolution have taught me that men are instinctively attracted to such signifiers of fertility. So fertile, guys!). But other than that, there’s nothing that stands out about it. It’s black, it doesn’t show an untoward amount of skin, and it’s the opposite of flashy.

And yet! On one occasion at Miami, that haven of frat-boy-bro-douche culture, a guy yelled out of his truck window, “Hey, I like your dress!” That marks the only time a man has ever yelled something from a truck that wasn’t a sexual come-on.

A couple of months ago as we got ready to go out for coffee, I warned H, “When I wear this dress, strangers tend to talk to me.” He didn’t seem to believe me.

We ate coffee and breakfast pastries uneventfully. No one said anything weird to me. “Have I lost it?” I asked myself. Then, frightened: “Did I ever even have it?” Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the dress lost its magic. Maybe I can’t keep wearing things I bought when I was 16. Maybe I need to go shopping more often.

As we walked home, a man shuffled past us, wearing the uniform of crazy street people: an oversized t-shirt.

“That reminds me of that itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini,” he muttered.

This was yet another time I’ve been rendered speechless. I resorted to nervous laughter, a really terrible defense mechanism I’ve been using ever since I was a kid. But it didn’t matter–he’d already barrelled past us and was halfway through the church parking lot.

To recap, what I wore was not:

1. Itsy-bitsy
2. Teeny-weeny
3. Yellow polka dot OR
4. A bikini

I turned to H and hissed, “Now do you believe me?” Getting weird comments since 2001: that’s my dress!

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