The other night, a small, erm, blemish appeared on my chin. Miss Snarky Pants does not get (shiver) pimples, but sometimes she talks about herself in third person, which is equally creepy. Fortunately, all superhero bloggers have their gear – and so do I. Just as Wonder Woman used her golden lasso to extract the truth from the lying liars of the world, I have my tube of Lumene Deep-Cleansing Peat Mask to extract impurities from the bastard blemishes that dare mar my facial perfection.
For those of you who don’t live next to a bog somewhere in Ireland, peat is a basically decomposing vegetation that, when dry, can be burned as a fossil fuel. It’s also a natural preservative…if you’re a corpse. In fact, over sixty years ago, two Scandinavian men were harvesting peat near their home in Denmark and discovered a male cadaver, buried in the muck, that was so perfectly intact, the men initially believed that it was the body of someone who had recently been murdered. Scientists later determined that the Tolland Man, as the poor stiff was eventually named, was nearly two thousandyears old. And damn, if he didn’t look good for his age.
The use of moor mud to beautify the skin has been well-documented over the centuries – by whom, I’ve no idea. This is a blog, people, not a Wikipedia entry. Legendary beauties like Cleopatra and…erm, I’m sure a lot of other reasonably attractive people have happily coated their cheeks with mire muck because of its mild antibiotic properties which help evict the free radicals that have staged a coup deep within in their pores. I’m not sure what free radicals are or who emancipated them, but I’m pretty certain that I don’t want them having an oozy, goozy shindig on my chin – particularly since they didn’t even bother to bring their hostess a bottle of wine. Who shows up to a pore party empty-handed?
So, naturally, I smear this mire mud all over my face because:
1) Tolland Man looks amazeballs – like he’s just taking a little nap after having spent the afternoon mudding with Honey Boo Boo and her kin folk. Since I’m losing weight, I can’t rely on fat molecules to continue to plump up my wrinkles – and I suspect swimming in formaldehyde could be dangerous;
2) I clearly don’t want to get laid for the next few hours (I’d have to don a bikini, hire a similarly-attired call girl, fill a child’s inflatable pool with gallons of bog poo, then wrestle said call girl in my pop-up swamp in order to merely distract Hubby from killing zombies on his PS3);
3) Lumene’s advertising claims that their peat mask contains aromatic rosemary that both opens the pores and provides “a refreshing fragrance.” Erm, if by refreshing fragrance you mean the putrid odor of rosemary rotting in The Bog of Eternal Stench, then, sure, I guess that’s the case. However, when you’re a blogger who spends most of her day in her pajamas and only bathes on the morning of her annual gynecological exam, you tend not to be bothered by a stench that would normally cause flocks of empty-bellied buzzards to nest on the roof of your home;
4) It seems like a girlie thing to do – and any act I can engage in that causes Hubby to remember that I am a female and not just some stanky person pattering around his apartment wearing sweatpants and gimongous concert t-shirts whilst concocting vegan-lite fare and tapping away at a keyboard is a good thing; and
5) Who doesn’t want to douse their face in something that’s more flammable than Richard Pryor? Those of you who got that joke, please slap two pair of Depends together so that I know you’re out there.
After applying my peat mask, I entered the bedroom to find Hubby tucked beneath the sheets with the remote control in hand, waiting for me to join him so that we could watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on the telly. Reeking of marsh poo, I pulled back the quilt and hopped into bed.
As Hubby caught sight of my peat-caked skin, he snickered and asked, “Are you seriously going to watch a movie about Abe Lincoln while wearing black face?”
Oops. Erm. “Yes?”
Note: I did not get laid that night and I still have a fucking ZIT on my chin. However, the vultures have moved on to a spa down the street.
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Photo credits: Big Ass Zit: Acnetreatmentreport.comTolland Man: Mesh5.comMud Wrestling: Cineplex.comBuzzards: Uglyhedgehog.comMiss Snarky Pants in Black Face: Miss Snarky Pants
I am a tithing member of the Church of the Holy Crock Pot. Though I dutifully praise the Crock Pot’s glories on a regular basis, take it to all the best potlucks, and actively witness to others about how the power of the Crock Pot has changed my life, it occasionally lets me down. This was the case a few months ago when I was cooking a pot roast in the depths of my early 1990s era Crock Pot. The kind with three settings: Off, Low and Scorchingly Fucking Hot. It was a housewarming gift from my mother when I moved into my very first apartment – the one with mauve carpeting.
For readers under the age of 25, let me explain that mauve is a horrid color that infiltrated the décor of the late 1980s and early 1990s, much in the same way that a CIA mole recently infiltrated al Qaeda’s plot to detonate an underwear bomb during a US-bound flight. Except mauve didn’t have good intentions. Often accompanied by its evil cohorts, peach and sea foam green, it permanently damaged the retinal cones of senior citizens and Floridian condominium owners, forever impairing their vision and, thereby, reducing their decorating choices to creamy pastels, shell motifs and stucco.
Despite my devout Crock Pot cookbook study sessions every Wednesday night, one cannot expect the Holy Crock Pot to simply reveal the secrets of the universe to just anyone. Particularly when that universe involves pot roast. That evening, I’d clearly misinterpreted the scriptures in The Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook concerning the preparation of the sacred, potted calf, letting it simmer on Low, when it should have been bubbling away on Scorchingly Fucking Hot. With dinner not in our immediate future, Matt and I headed to a local restaurant with a great bar for a few cocktails.
As we slid into a booth in the bar, we noticed that seated to our left was a well-dressed gentleman accompanied by a woman who’d likely been a blonde bombshell twenty years earlier, but was now just clinging to her svelte figure by a thread on her leopard print blouse. As we sipped our drinks and pondered the appetizer menu, Matt and I couldn’t help but overhear our neighbors discussing their new waterfront condo and raving about how much culture they’d discovered in our seaside town. Yes, it’s true. In our little city, you can’t throw a stone without hitting an art gallery specializing in oversized paintings of a beachy sunsets that will perfectly match your sea foam-colored sofa and table lamps with sea shell-filled glass bases.
And then I saw her. Megan.
Memories of gatherings filled with hippie types came crashing back like a teenager returning home in his father’s purloined car after a keg party. I’d eaten my first piece of sushi whilst swinging in Megan’s Sky Air chair. I’d cheered her on as she’d scaled the interior stone walls of the infamous Generic College hangout, Coblin House, in order to reach the second floor, where she’d proceeded to dance barefoot on a slim plank of wood that framed the opening to the loft – even though the fall could have killed her. My date to Megan’s wedding was our mutual best friend, Todd, who had handed me tissues throughout the reception held on a boat cruising up and down the bay. And as soon as all of Megan and Jarrod’s elderly relatives had returned to their hotel rooms, we had converged upon their rickety wooden house that squatted on the edge of an orange grove for the real reception – a blowout that extended until dawn and didn’t officially end until the last drunken guest had awakened from his supine position on the dining room floor, and mumbled “Congratu-fucking-lations!” before stumbling out the door – and into my car. As vodka and I hadn’t yet been introduced formally, I’d driven a lot of people home that day.
And here she was. I hadn’t seen Megan in close to a decade. She was sitting with a short-haired man dressed in linen who resembled Val Kilmer. Where was skinny, long-haired, goateed Jarrod? Had they divorced? Quickly, I glanced at her ring finger to find her sparkler still in place. Was she having an affair with this man? For a few moments, I studied her body language. Always a flirt, Megan was leaning forward, smiling, laughing that husky laugh. For chrissakes, her pupils were dilated. She was into this guy. For a minute, I was filled with a loyal rage. How could she do this to poor Jarrod? He’d always been the Ethel to her grape-stomping, Vitametavegamin-swilling, Harpo Marx-imitating Lucy. Not a Ricky. Ricky would have demanded some “splainin’,” but Jarrod had always gone along with Megan’s antics because she was a light that couldn’t be dimmed. A flame that couldn’t be ‘splained. Was it any surprise that her favorite color was yellow and her preferred blooms were sunflowers? Megan glowed…and we all basked in her radiance and felt the better for it.
The moment we locked eyes, her lips spread into a brilliant smile. Within seconds, I was up and we were embracing one another, jibber-jabbering about how long it had been. Clueless as to why I’d bounded over to hug a woman he’d never met, Matt stayed planted in his seat, until I loudly announced that I was married and urged him to rise and meet Megan. Still slim and casually elegant, she wrapped her arms around my husband, her long golden waves shimmering in the warm hue of the bar lights. My slender figure was petulantly hiding back in 2005, mocking my chubba wubba voluptuous curves from the space time continuum. To make matters worse, I was growing out a pixie cut that was in desperate need of a trim and, instead of it drawing comparisons to Audrey Hepburn from the restaurant patrons, my hair was likely spurring sudden, subliminal desires to order the smoked mullet.
Once Megan released my husband, she gestured to Val Kilmer and chimed, “Matt, meet my husband, Jarrod.”
What? I gave the imposter-posing-as-Jarrod the once over, resisting the urge to blurt out, “ Look, Iceman…I loved you in Real Genius, but I can’t allow you to turn my Megan into a Jezebel.”
But as I studied his strong square jaw line and soft brown eyes, the Jarrod I remembered began to emerge – a hippie trapped in the body of a washed-up actor. Fortunately, it wasn’t the bloated Val Kilmer of late, but neither was it the shirtless, volleyball-playing fighter pilot whose photo had adorned many a dorm room wall. The worst part was that Jarrod didn’t recognize me either. Fuuuuuuuuuck!
“Jarrod, it’s me, Cristy.”
Without a flicker of recognition in his eyes, Jarrod nodded. “Umm. Yeah. Of course. You changed your hair, didn’t you?”
Yeah, but at least no one mistakes me for Molly Ringwald. “I was blonde the last time you saw me.”
“Oh yeah. That’s it,” he said, with a smile. That and the fat suit you’re wearing.
By then, the condo purchasers had become enraptured with our conversation…listening to every word while carefully staring off in the distance, but not so far away as to eclipse our presence in their peripheral vision. Once Megan returned her attention to me, she immediately asked about my writing. When I admitted that I had recently completed my first novel and was penning a humor blog, she broadcasted to the entire bar that I was a great writer, an introduction that could result in only one thing. Utter humiliation. The minute I revealed – to bar patrons who were complete strangers – that my novel wasn’t actually published and that I was looking for an agent, their interest level in me dropped faster than a toddler down a well. A dry well. I’m pretty sure I heard a thud as their enthusiasm hit the dirt like a skull.
As Megan and I swapped stories about the last decade, Matt began chit-chatting with our bar neighbors. Within moments, they were sharing inside jokes and laughing together as though they were frat buddies who’d hijacked the mascot of their school’s biggest competitor back in the day. Meanwhile, I began to get the impression that Megan’s life had not turned out the way she’d expected. A teacher for many years, she told me she’d quit her beloved profession and was answering phones part-time at a friend’s business. When I asked what precipitated her decision, Megan squirmed noticeably and offered a euphemism to the effect of, “Oh, I just needed a change.” She expressed an interest in writing. I encouraged her to keep at it and offered to read anything she was working on if she felt like sharing.
But then Megan began doing the things that Megan always eventually did. Compete. Complain. And charm the socks off everyone in the room…except for the people who know her.
“What happened to my glass of wine? It was right here. I wasn’t done,” Megan announced to the room in general. Waving the waitress over, she whined, “I had a full glass of wine sitting right here. Did you take it?” When our server denied responsibility, Megan refused to drop the issue – like a dog with a mouthful of stuffed, squeaking, faux dead duck. I swear she even shook her head from side to side vigorously – as if to break the waitress’ neck with the ferocity of her convictions. “Yes, you did. The glass was full. I’d only had a sip, ” she insisted, the alcohol on her breath strong enough to sanitize the road rash on the butt of a man whose scooter had collided with a fertilizer truck. “You need to bring me another one immediately.”
I was reminded that one of the reasons we basked in Megan’s glow so willingly was that the rest of the time in her presence could be like Juneau in the dead of winter. I wrapped my cardigan around me a little more tightly. Despite the fact that it was Megan and Jarrod’s wedding anniversary, our golden girl couldn’t resist an audience. So as she entertained our bar neighbors with a slew of stories I’d never heard about motherhood, dancing and cotillion, any hopes I may have had of sharing a meaningful conversation with her were dashed. Megan was driving this car, pedal to the metal, and we were passengers clinging to door handles just hoping she’d slow down before she ordered us to jump. Within minutes of meeting these people, Megan was throwing out invitations to Dexter-themed parties to come. And discussing country clubs. And yacht cleaners.
Country clubs? Yachts? What happened to the barefoot Megan who always had a daisy tucked into her hair?
And then Megan steered the conversation back to just the two of us. And Todd. Oh. Dear. God. We have a decade to catch up on and this is what she wants to talk about. “Whatever happened to Todd, Cristy? I haven’t heard from him in years.”
I know, I thought. If she had, she would know that Todd had gotten engaged. And married. She’d know that Todd had moved out to the West Coast and was working on his graduate degree. “You know, Todd,” I responded lightheartedly, not wanting to be the bearer of tidings that would likely piss her off. “He’s so bad about staying in touch.”
“Haven’t you heard from him?” she asked. I nodded weakly, admitting I had. “Oh. Well, I’ve left messages. I even called his mother and…nothing.” My smile was toothless and pained as if it had been painted on by an artist with Asperger Syndrome. Even I knew a call to Todd’s mother usually accomplished…well, nothing. In fact, for years, she called me for updates about her son. “Well? Where is he?” Megan demanded.
“Oregon. He’s in Oregon.”
“Why?” she persisted. “What’s he doing out there?”
Freezing his ass off. Carrying an umbrella. Gradually turning translucent. Getting all the really “in-jokes” on Portlandia. “He’s in school. He’s working on his graduate degree. He’s doing really well.” C’mon, just say you’re happy for him and drop the fucking duck.
But Megan’s competitive streak had reared it’s angel-faced head because I had the audacity to know something about Todd – a person she still considered her best friend despite the fact that they hadn’t spoken in a decade – that she didn’t know. “Why did he have to go to school out there?”
Because his wife is a huge Pink Martini fan and wanted to live closer to the band. Because that’s what people do…they move away. Because he’s not your minion, Megan. “That’s where he and his girlfriend moved.” It was only a little lie. Not really one at all. After all, Todd and Raina were only engaged when they moved out there. I mean, technically, Raina was just a girlfriend with an uber nice ring on her left hand.
“He’s got a girlfriend?” Megan hissed. And that’s when I realized it. Her claim upon Todd was as real in her mind as a forty-niner’s staked claim to a vein of gold in California. This was jealousy, plain and simple. And suddenly, it occurred to me that this conversation was never meant to be about catching up on our lives. It was an intelligence gathering mission about Todd.
“Ummm. Nooooo. Not anymore.” Though the terms girlfriend and fiance could easily be considered interchangeable, this was not the case with the word wife.
Megan’s face suddenly brightened. “Oh. So he’s single, then?” I prayed that Val Kilmer wasn’t overhearing this bit of the conversation.
Erm. Fuck it. My thighs were aching from dancing around the truth for the past few minutes. She needed to know the facts. And I needed to order another martini. Hopefully, she’d then move on to less stressful topics like tsunamis and waterboarding. “No, Megan. He’s married. He got married a couple of years ago.”
Though the conversations around us continued unhindered, the silence in the eight inches or so between our heads was deafening. Finally, Megan asked, “Why didn’t he call me?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know. The disintegration of Megan and Todd’s friendship had never been discussed. And I hadn’t asked. It was none of my business. “Maybe he didn’t have your number?” I suggested weakly. Maybe he found out that you are a possessive psycho friend prone to interrogating the innocent.
Megan insisted that her number hadn’t changed. “We haven’t even moved. He knew how to find me,” she spit, as though I had assumed the role of Todd’s personal correspondence assistant and should share in the responsibility of this faux pas. “Well, did you go?” Megan’s halo of blonde hair suddenly began to singe my corneas like an interrogation spotlight.
Awkward. If I tell the truth, she’ll be hurt and I’ll feel like a bitch. If I lie, Megan will eventually find out, and then I’ll be a lying bitch. I can’t win. “Yes, Megan. I was one of his best men.” Her face fell. Then her nostrils flared as the realization hit her that I had been a member of the wedding party. Which meant I must have been in on the conspiracy to keep her off the guest list. And I probably knew who shot Kennedy and if astronauts really landed on the moon. “Look, I don’t know what happened between you two–”
“I know what happened,” she interrupted. Then, leaning in even closer, she whispered, “You know, Todd was always in love with me.”
Of course, he was, I wanted to say. Because it’s all about you, Megan. At that moment, I realized I couldn’t remember ever spending any time alone with Megan. Just the two of us. No lunch dates. No girls’ night out. In fact, every time we were together, we were usually surrounded by her friends – friends who were typically straight, single men. Men who basked in her glory. I hadn’t just told Megan that Todd’s life had changed drastically without her permission input; I’d confirmed that he was no longer one of her back-up dancers. Someone else had captured his attention. Permanently. And he was happy. Really happy.
And who knows, maybe Todd had been in love with Megan eons ago. I was once a size 4 and strutted my stuff in a fashion show that aired on MTV. That and $14.50 will get you a mochaccino at Starbucks. “And now he’s in love with Raina,” I said firmly. “She’s his best friend now. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.” And I meant that. I’d included those words in my best man’s speech that romantic evening in New York.
Megan abruptly ended our conversation and returned her attention to our condo-buying acquaintances. It turned out that the couple were from Atlanta and had firm views on the MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system. “You know what MARTA stands for, don’t you?” the aging bombshell asked us with a wink.
Oh. Dear. God. How did Matt and I meander into a bar that could provide not one, but two really uncomfortable moments in less than a half hour? Give her the benefit of the doubt, Cristy. Maybe they’ve come up with something that isn’t incredibly trite and racist. “No. What?” I asked, my eyebrow cocked in warning. Don’t fuck with the eyebrow.
Tittering, the cougar whispered loudly enough for people in Georgia to hear, “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.”
Oh, no she didn’t! Then I heard Megan giggling. Since when do hippies laugh at unimaginative racist acronyms? “Really?” I said through gritted teeth. “Funny, but the last time I rode the MARTA, I didn’t notice many black people on it. And the people I did notice looked like commuters and students. But then, Atlanta’s African Americans are some of the most educated and wealthiest people in the country. I’d imagine that most of them don’t need to take public transportation.”
The woman pursed her lips. “Well, the MARTA’s gotten really bad lately.”
“In the last five years?” I asked. Maybe they’d switched to really uncomfortable seats. Or worse, maybe they’d begun playing Muzak over the loud speakers.
“Oh, yes. It’s bad. Our friend won’t let his college student son ride on it.” I resisted the urge to ask her if their friend also believed in the Mayan calendar and had a basement stocked with automatic weapons, canned goods and bottled water in preparation for the end of the world. “In fact, we avoid the downtown area altogether.”
Stifling my laughter, I replied, “Heck, the last time I was in Atlanta, I used to power walk from my hotel downtown all the way to Olympic Park. It seemed perfectly safe to me.” My husband just sat there, stone-faced. He has little tolerance for racists, and even less for pussies.
Megan suddenly chimed in. “You’re brave. I can tell; you’re fearless.” Without a hint of irony.
Huh? Me? Walking around a city in broad daylight hardly constitutes brave. This was not the Megan I knew. For years, I’d admired her free spirit. Her willingness to dance on a strip of plywood ten feet above the ground without a care. Hell, a few minutes earlier, she was inviting absolute strangers to visit her home for a serial-killer themed party. But they were white. “Are you telling me you wouldn’t take the MARTA, Megan?”
“It’s not like New York, Cristy.”
Damn straight, it’s not. It’s a hell of a lot safer than New York. What was she trying to say? The population is, erm, darker in Atlanta than it is in New York City? “Okay, how about D.C.? You’d ride the Metro in D.C., right?” She couldn’t say no to that. Matt and I had just visited D.C. a year earlier. While my husband attended a conference, I’d ridden the Metro all over town and walked the streets alone…with only my lip gloss for protection.
All four of them – even Jarrod – just stared at me uncomfortably. Matt’s silence, however, was brought about by pure shock. He hadn’t been surrounded by so many pussies since he visited a strip club in college.
“You forget,” Megan said, viewing my furrowed brow and slack jaw, “that I was agoraphobic for two years. Jarrod and me – we got mugged in Tampa.”
“Really? I’m sorry to hear that, but I don’t think I knew you then.” Agoraphobic? Next thing, she’ll be telling me that she hoards newspapers, magazines and those little plastic round things that you pull off milk cartons.
“I think you did,” Megan insisted.
No, I’d remember knowing that someone is agoraphobic. I mean, how would I even meet that person? I’d have had to just go knocking on random doors and asking people, “Do you leave the house? No? Great, wanna hang out? I’ll bring Chinese take-out.”
The Atlanta couple was terrified of Tampa, hence their decision to buy a condo with 24-hour security in our safe little corner of Florida (which actually has a higher crime rate than Tampa…but let’s not allow silly things like facts and statistics to mar the absurdness of this story). They related a tale about driving to visit a particular business in Tampa. Supposedly, as they drove into the neighborhood where the business was located, white men wearing neon orange vests waved them on – away from their destination. Raising their eyebrows, the couple gave us all a meaningful stare. One that puzzled the fuck out of me.
“So who were they? Construction workers redirecting you towards a detour?” I asked hesitantly. The woman shook her head.
“No! They were telling us to move along because we didn’t belong there in the ghetto,” the woman declared. Her boyfriend nodded his head solemnly in agreement. Clearly, fear and stupidity are bedfellows. “And when we finally got to the right place, all the brothers were eyeing our hubcaps.”
Did she really just refer to African American men as brothers? “What do you drive?”
“A Honda. It’s a hybrid.”
As a hybrid owner myself, I notice that a lot of people eye my car. Some of them happen to be black. And, yet, my hubcaps have never been stolen. “Did it occur to you that the brothers, as you call them, might have just been wondering what kind of mileage your hybrid gets and whether or not it’s worth it?” Or maybe they were thinking, “Check out the cougar! If you whistle in the vicinity of her cleavage, I bet you’ll hear an echo.”
The couple exchanged glances that said, “These poor people are so naive.” The look on Megan’s face made it clear that she thought that Matt and I were probably paying the brothers for protection – and that’s why we’d never been mugged.
I couldn’t take another minute of this conversation. Downing my martini, I racked my brain thinking of an excuse to leave…immediately. The Holy Crock Pot turned out to be my savior. “Oh, honey! We’ve gotta go,” I exclaimed, slapping my forehead with the heel of my palm. “I nearly forgot about the pot roast.”
That night, the Holy Crock Pot had shared its divine wisdom with me. It had removed me from the confines of my home and my comfortable friendships with people who share my values – and placed me in the presence of people who no longer did. As much as I sometimes long for those carefree days of staying up all night reading poetry, playing drums, and discussing philosophers I really didn’t understand with Megan and other friends, I realize that I can never go back to those days. Or to high-waisted jeans. Make that any jeans that don’t include the word stretch somewhere on the tag.
Why? Because I’ve changed. I understand those philosophers now. Okay, I might have thrown away the books by the ones who bored me – which would have been most of them. Regardless, I stopped searching for who I was to become and simply became that person. A person who will sit next to a Muslim on a plane just as comfortably as I would sit next to a white woman – unless that white woman has a screaming infant in her lap. I’ll take being sandwiched between an overweight Muslim dude using a seat belt extender and a loquacious Born Again from Branson, Missouri on a non-stop international flight – riding in coach – to avoid that particular form of torture.
I became a person who doesn’t make the following announcement to every Indian customer service rep I encounter on the phone: If this call is being recorded, I want it known that these jobs need to go to Americans. You don’t deserve these jobs. You hear me! (Yes, I once had a boss who instructed me to do this. I refused. She, in turn, refused to believe that most of the customer service reps in India actually have graduate degrees – which they do.) I’m a person who doesn’t tighten her grip on her purse strap because someone darker than a latte is walking behind her on the sidewalk. A person who doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian rights, but in human rights – for all people. Because gays and lesbians are humans, first. And Kathy Griffin fans, second. A person who rejects fearmongering disguised as patriotism. Yes, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA – I’m talking to you. Obama’s not going to take away your precious Second Amendment – or your storeroom filled with freeze-dried astronaut food and gold bullion.
I know. I know. How mighty white of me to establish what an open-minded, perfect human specimen I am. But this is how I roll, and it’s how I rolled 20 years ago. But being mugged – and the fear that came with that act of violence – apparently caused Megan to just roll over, pull the bedspread over her head and hide. She didn’t evolve into the person I’d expected. If anything, she’d devolved into a person with irrational fears, still clinging to her youth as it’s wretched from her grasp – man by man. And fear is the basis of racism. Fear fuels the hatred that inspires acts of bigotry. How do I know this? Because one of the most respected entities in the universe said so: Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. – Yoda, Grand Jedi Master and yoga aficionado. You don’t argue with the owner of a lightsaber. No, the one you bought at Comic-Con doesn’t count.
So as you go about your day, allowing your fears or your past to guide your decisions, consider the rhetorical question posed so succinctly by my sage Blogging Bestie, Stacie Chadwick in a recent post: “When did taking the road less traveled morph into plotting the easiest path?”
And then answer this question in your comments below: When did taking the road less traveled morph into hailing a cab because you’re too afraid to take the subway?
As always, names have been changed to protect the innocent and the assholes.
Many of us are guilty of this. You know what I’m talking about it. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. A lot of my friends have done it. Heck, I do it all the time. The other day, on the way to a funeral, I did it in the car – multiple times. Why? I dunno. Boredom? It was, after all, a long drive. Anxiety? I was, after all, going to a funeral. Narcissism? Oh, yeah. Of course, that’s it. After all, I’m a blogger. We’re all a bunch of self-absorbed sociopaths who don’t care about anyone else but ourselves. It’s all about me, me, me! Right? Is that what you’re trying to say?
Okay, I guess I could have involved my husband. He was in the car. Driving. Also bored. Anxious to be meeting everyone in my entire family – at once. I suppose I could have shared my attention with him. That’s what you’re thinking. Except he hates for me to do that kind of thing to him when he’s driving. He puts on this extremely tense, unsmiling face every time I attempt it. He says it distracts him. It could cause him to have an accident.
So I take photos of myself instead. No, not naked. Wait, what did you think I was talking about? Perv!
I was talking about the coy photos I take of myself. The ones that are shot from peculiar perspectives so that my chin looks like an acute angle in a geometry text book, and my eyes are the size of ostrich eggs. The ones intended to make me look waifish, like Kate Moss back in the day. Yeah, I hear you. There is no angle out there capable of making me look like an emaciated super model. Okay, what about elfin? For you literary types, how about a Dickensian orphan? Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Does this help?
Yes, I realize the hoops and frilly jacket make me look like an orphan who fell off a pirate ship. Why are you so judgmental about poor children who are all alone in the world? Vagabonds who are manipulated into stealing for a living. Innocent souls forced to labor 18 hours a day in a workhouse. Not working for you, huh? How about this, then?
Don’t you dare think a dirty thought about her. Yes, she is lovely. Yes, I wish that Orlando Bloom was single and really a long-haired, towheaded elf named Legolas Greenleaf who would marry Kelsey so that she could live in a fabulous Tolkien-esque fantasy world. And we’d be in New Zealand right now, hangin’ with Peter Jackson and Frodo, filming The Hobbit. Still don’t see it? Okay, I’m pulling out the big guns. My friend, Vivian, is the queen of the shot-from-above photo. In fact, she can make her chin virtually disappear. She’s perfected this technique by practicing – a lot. And if I looked like her, I’d take my photo all day long, too. Naked. That was for the perv who asked earlier.
This brings up those photographs people take of just a portion of their face – like the other half of their cheek is a State secret requiring security clearance and a pat down by a guy in a black suit wearing a suspiciously large wristwatch. My friend, Transman, who records his life as a transgendered dude on his blog, The Adventures of Transman , also likes to take photos of this nature. I’m pretty sure that if you visit Wikileaks, the other half of his photo is now available – and someone’s going to prison over it. You can’t just release that kind of thing willy-nilly! The plans for of a U.S. nuclear arms facility could be tattooed on Transman’s other cheek. Or the recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnut batter. Or the lyrics to Johnny Cash’s last original song – yet to be recorded by anyone.
Partial portraits seem to be all the rage with the advent of Facebook, Flickr and cell phones that not only make and receive phone calls, but take photos, whiten your teeth and poach a perfect egg – simultaneously. I’m a big offender in this category as well. What? You never noticed my Gravatar pic?
The above photo is one I took the day of the funeral – with my cell phone. I was wearing glasses for three reasons:
1) I think they make me look smarter. As the first person on the paternal side of the family to graduate from not one, but three, institutions of higher learning, there is a lot of pressure on me to live up to that image and appear to have earned those degrees. I suspect my relatives know that sexual favors and envelopes packed with greenbacks delivered to the appropriate people at matriculation were also involved, but I like the delusional little world I live in. The one in which I play a genius and Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory, people!) is my best friend.
2) They are slightly tinted and protect my eyes. I have perfect 20/20 vision and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Did I mention that I’m 43. And have perfect vision. Jealous much?
3) The frames are thick, black and totally nerdy. Translation: I think they make me look like a hipster. As I foolishly revealed earlier, I’m 43. Looking hip at this age is becoming increasingly difficult. I’d get a blue Mohawk – because everyone knows that anyone with a Mohawk is hip – except I have really large ears that stick out. A lot. This is why I can communicate with bats. And yes, they want to suck your blood, but it’s bad for P.R. Anyway, I digress. The Mohawk is a hair style that tends to emphasize large, prominent ears, and it’s really hard to feel hip when some teenager is sniping behind your back, “That’s what you’d get if Marge Simpson and Barack Obama made it.”
Regardless, I don’t think the glasses worked for their intended hipster purpose. Why? As soon as I posted the me-in-glasses photo as my blog Gravatar, another blogger, Gemini Girl In A Random World asked me if I wanted to be her blogging “bestie.” Now, that was truly a nice thing to do. However, I think that she was subliminally influenced by my photo, which I can’t help but notice makes me look a tad bit like Mayim Bialik’s character, Amy, also of The Big Bang Theory. What does that have to do with Stacie Chadwick wanting to be my “bestie?” Everything. Amy is obsessed with Sheldon Cooper’s neighbor, Penny, and refers to the girl as her “bestie.” It’s practically her catch phrase. Coincidence? Perhaps. I’m certain Stacie would say that the two things are completely unrelated. But like I said…it’s subliminal. She doesn’t realize that it’s the glasses and the unflattering photo that drew her to me and to use the word “bestie.” Still think I’m crazy? Check out this photo of Mayim Bialik as Amy:
Now imagine her without the lower half of her face. If you need to, you can scroll back up and take a second look at my photo. It’s uncanny, I tell you. By the way, Stacie Chadwick is now my blogging bestie. She swears my resemblance to Amy has nothing to do with it.
So whatever happened to the full frontal portrait? And what is it in our society that is bringing about its demise? Drought, disease, war and global warming can safely be ruled out – and that’s a concern. Normally, everything can be blamed on one of these four factors. Thus, we must look outside the box. Or perhaps, inside our very souls.
Why would any of us want to hide part, but not all, of our face? Have we compartmentalized the visage above our necks in the same manner we have our bodies for years? Shoulders: slumpy. Tits: perky. Abs: non-existent. Hips: child-bearing. Butt: bootylicious. Legs: very long. Feet: hidden by non-existent abs. For millions of years, it’s been completely acceptable in many cultures to hide certain body parts. In fact, in most cultures, it’s required. If the fire department ever had to knock out a wall in your home in order to remove you from it – and nothing was on fire – it is preferred. Even public beaches have an unwritten canon by which one must abide. For example, if you think you look good in an itsy bitsy thong bikini – and your clothing size is higher than the average age of a kindergarten student – beach etiquette says, “Uh-uh. No way.” Butt floss is perfectly acceptable under clothing, but flossing in public is considered rude. And, no, the spray tan you got before you headed down to Florida doesn’t make you look any thinner. Being tanorexic doesn’t make you anorexic. Unless it was applied by Dumbledore himself, it’s essentially paint, not magic.
Few cultures require the covering of the face. If they do, it is usually for religious or modesty reasons, not because millions of women don’t like their shriveled upper lips or think their nostrils are too bulbous. If a person is unhappy with their facial appearance, it is the custom in some societies to change the offending feature or features with plastic surgery. The results are generally pleasing, thus making it unlikely that the person will feel the need to hide his or her face.
Of course, there are always exceptions. And in some cases, society, as a whole, may wish someone would hide part or all of their face – despite them having had plastic surgery. The fact that the person refuses to do so suggests a strong need and desire to keep the facial features revealed, if at all possible.
So the question remains why someone would not photograph their whole face. The following possibilities remain:
1) They have deep, permanent scars from a werewolf attack. A full frontal portrait would both reveal the scars and serve as a manner in which to identify a serial killer who murders once every blue moon. Okay, every full moon, but blue moon sounded so poetic.
2) The person is actually Two-Face from Batman and he’s trying to find love on Match.com. Even comic book villains need affection. Except who’s gonna answer your ad when your profile photo looks like this:
I don’t care how much you claim to love romantic walks on the beach, gourmet cooking, giving foot massages or socializing with super heroes, most single girls out there are turned on by a little mystery. And if they can see what’s wedged between your molars even when your mouth is closed – technically, anyway – it can be a deal killer. While most women appreciate a sinewy man, none of them want to actually see the sinew. Yes, there’s a difference.
3) The person is hiding a deep-seated duality (i.e. split personality) and displaying both sides of their face in a single photo is like making them face (Ha! A pun – it’s like I’m pun-ishing you. Oops, I just did it again. On purpose.) the reality that two people are living in a their single brain. This is akin to two people sharing one of those tiny Ikea store dioramas that masquerade as examples of apartment living. Someone like Mel Gibson. For years, he seemed like your typical Hollywood actor: charming, normal, Jew-loving and Holocaust-believing, but it turns out that once the star has a few shots in him, he morphs into a bigoted psychopath who no longer believes in history. From the photo below, it appears there may be yet another personality swimming around in that space between his ears.
4) The person held the camera too close to their face when they took the photo, resulting in only a partial portrait. The result is regretted, but they didn’t take another shot, so they post it anyway because they have low self-esteem and aren’t the perfectionists they should be. I know. This theory is extremely unlikely.
5) They have short arms…and thus held the camera too close to their face when they took the photo, resulting in only a partial portrait. Since God loves short people best, they are forgiven and the discussion is closed.
6) They have a deep-seated hatred for one specific facial feature, but are too deep and non-superficial to ever consider plastic surgery. They probably live in Portland, Oregon. Their favorite song is by Phish. It is also likely that they are over-educated, liberal and poor. The reason that they’re poor is because they spend all their money on organic food and that shit is pricey. Thus, they suffer through their pain and compensate by taking only partial portraits of the facial features they like. Bragging about the fact that they will never be the kind of idiot who’d get Botox is a pastime.
7) They think partial portraits look artsy, edgy and hip. And they are…if you’re artsy, edgy and hip. Me. I’m 43. We’ve already had this discussion. This is my attempt to look all of the above.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking I look like a corpse. If I wanted to act, this could be my headshot for my audition as Dead Hooker Number 3 on CSI: Special Victims Unit. Either that or a mannequin – a really creepy one that comes to life when its owner is asleep. One that has a knife that flashes in the candlelight. (Don’t ask me why they have candles lit! It’s ambiance.) My eyes are all glassy and I’m working the Clockwork Orange lashes. If I was humming “Singin’ In The Rain,” you’d all be running your asses off right now.
If you’re 19 and gorgeous, you can pull the partial portrait off. You can also wear a plaid shirt and let your hair just hang and not wear much makeup – and look perfect. If she had a pair of thick, black nerdy glasses on, Kelsey would be the ultimate hipster. If she was dating the lead singer of The Decemberists, she’d be a legend – and she could borrow his thick, black, nerdy glasses. Instead of mine. That’s a lie. She doesn’t borrow my glasses. She lives in another state. She’d probably like me to buy her a pair of thick, black nerdy glasses, but her birthday isn’t until August. And she’s hip enough as it is. Anyway, I really want her to end up with Orlando Bloom.
Likewise, the partial photograph works well for women well over 19 who are also stunners. Again, my friend Vivian is a perfect example. I’m not sure why she chooses to hide any part of her face, but it does, indeed, serve to make her look hip. Which is probably why she dates a much younger guy who’s an artist. And she hangs out with really hip, artsy types. And goes to lots of hip, artsy events. Okay, I hate her. Not really. Hate is a strong word. I reserve that for Will Wheaton. If you were Sheldon Cooper’s best friend, you’d understand why.
During that car ride I mentioned earlier, I tried to take an eye photo. I wasn’t trying to copy Vivian because I hadn’t yet seen the above photos, but I was still very desperate to appear hip. My attempt wasn’t quite so…well, cool. Perhaps because it came out blurry. Now, there are a certain number of fuzzy, yet hip, photos out there. This isn’t one of them. In fact, the first thought that popped into my head was Cyclops – as viewed by a person who doesn’t have 20/20 vision. Like me. Jealous, yet? Hey, I gotta work the one thing I got goin’ for me. The eye shot also accentuates the Tammy Faye Baker mascara I was rockin’ that day. What? Doesn’t everyone get super dolled up for a funeral?
When it became clear that my eyes are scary as opposed to hip, and best hidden behind thick, black, nerdy glasses – even if they make me look like Amy Farrah Fowler – I decided to focus on the lower half of my face. My lips, after all, are generally considered one of my best features. Naturally full and always balmed or glossed, I’ve often been accused of having them enhanced. Which is funny because I was going to have anything enhanced, there are so many other places I’d start. But I guess I’m a bit Portlandia in my attitude towards plastic surgery, so I’m all natural. Still, the fact that people have thought my lips were fake does raise a red flag. Do people say that when your lips look gorgeous…or Real Housewives of Orange County-esque. This photo answers that question.
Lord, I look like I’m auditioning to become one of the Jolie-Pitt clan. Angelina…you can have a full-grown child with big ass lips like yours, but you don’t have to get pregnant. And I’ve already been to college. And I’m already married. With cats. You could have grand cats. And I’m weaned. Very important to know when a potential child has lips this big. And open. Like I’m ready to suckle. So gross. No wonder that perv asked me if I took naked photos of myself. Okay, to make up for scaring you with my photos – several times – I offer you my version of an apology. Remember those plastic surgery freaks that society wishes would cover up, but refuse. Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have to see full frontals of them? Just for you folks…