today for two hours I was a girly girl.
Growing up I was never the kind of girly girl my mom wanted me to be in my shiny black party shoes and tights and furly whirly dresses. That was the 1960s, when moms of the 50s dressed their girls like, well, girls.
By the time I was four we lived on a farm and all hope for my being a darling princess was buried under the manure pile for good. How my mom always looked like a million bucks, how her white tennis shoes stayed bright white, I still don't know.
An older brother, a horse-loving sister, and me, grass stained and ripped, patched, then ripped again slacks. I liked being a tomboy. As I grew, I became my brother's little brother, complete with pixie haircut that made me, for at least a year, undistinguishable from a boy. "Hey, cute little brother there," his friends would say, me following behind him the obligatory 20 steps, just so no one would know his kid sister was with him. Those were the days.
He'd dress me up in shoulder pads and a helmet and we'd sucker the neighborhood guys into a football game. We lived in suburbia by then, my dad gone. They'd all be afraid to nail me, Frank's little sister. So he'd toss me the winning pass every time. And I'd catch it every time.
Then they got wise. Me at 7 getting leveled in the front yard by two boys twice my size. Me at 8 getting checked into the boards on the hockey rink. By my own brother. Adults mostly in horror. Me at 10 playing basketball with him on the bed, the hamper our net, socks our ball, my teeth into the bed frame, blood pouring out of my mouth, "I'm telling Mom!" (Did I mention I was a brat too?)
Then my own horse.
There's always something under my fingernails. The smell of Absorbine and pine tar. mmmmmm. Still works.
I cared for makeup only briefly, during my shoplifting days when I thought it was fun to steal. Mostly I liked the packaging. I wore bright blue eye shadow in the 70s with every kind of foundation I could hoist. But it was mostly the game of taking it, not about wearing it to be pretty or feminine, that jazzed me.
It's probably no suprise, then, that today at 40 I had my first manicure. I got a gift certificate from my mother six months ago and decided to use it. Got my nails manicured, got the blonde highlights from three months ago out of my hair, with a new shade of mahogany red. A nice trim. Bangs again. Not bad.
It was fun. Pretending for a couple hours that I care about this stuff. Seeing myself through my mother's eyes. Thinking I looked, for once, "together."
For a while I felt pretty high from it. I grabbed (and paid for) a new coat before I headed home. New coat, clean nails with some pretty polish, and new mahogany hair.
I looked in the car mirror and I saw myself a week from now, hair floppy again, nail polish all cracked and haggard from struggling to get Jenna's jeans on, cleaning the litter box, fussing with the dog bucket.
I don't know how nails work. And I didn't even get fake ones put on. (Hey, guys, THAT'S how they do it! They get fake ones glued on over their regular nails. Gross, huh?)
I can't help it if I'm a 40-year-old kid sister. I'm just me. Never was a girly girl. Never cared for them as friends. I was some kind of mix between tough kid / smart kid / bad kid / good kid. And I guess as an adult, I still roll around among those same rolls--I'd still rather have a pitch fork in a stall than color painted on my head any day.
So, I'll enjoy the fluff for a few days, think how cool it is to not look like myself for a while, but when the gray starts to peek through my hair, and my bangs get long, and the nail polish is all peeled away, I think I'll smile just the same.
At the old me shining through.