I’ve had many emails and phone calls since I wrote my last post, from friends wanting to know if I was talking about them when I complained about People Who Talk Shit about Other People and People Who Pick Up Their Kids Late from Playdates. And luckily paranoia isn’t on my list of SHIT THAT MAKES ME CRAZY and so I’ve been able to laugh and reassure them. But I started thinking a little more about that post, and then the post I wrote before that, the one where I talk about not wanting to half-ass anything. And I started thinking about the times lately that I’ve let myself off the hook. And so I thought I’d share these two occasions with you.
Every December my best friend from graduate school and I get together with our kids and build a gingerbread house. We started this tradition when The Boy was four and her daughter was not quite, and for the next three years we used this occasion as an excuse to hang out in the midst of a season that otherwise kind of makes us want to slit our wrists. We feed the children obscene amounts of sugar and they cavort about the house and we talk about how we’re not feeling the love. And every year we learn a little bit more about constructing the gingerbread house itself, because every year we buy the same kit from Whole Foods.
But this year my friend went and got herself pregnant for the third time (the third time!) and however chubby and adorable her baby might be there’s no getting around the fact that his arrival at the beginning of the holiday season ruined destroyed affected our gingerbread house building plans. My friend didn’t think she could crawl out from under the constant nursing long enough to bring her almost-seven-year-old, her two-and-a-half-year-old, and her newborn to my house to keep our tradition intact. And I was like, Um, where are your priorities? But I said, well, okay, why don’t you have your husband bring the almost-seven-year-old over and I’ll do the gingerbread house with the kids myself while you stay home and feed that baby. And she said okay.
But I realized that building a gingerbread house in her absence wasn’t as much fun as I expected. First of all, Whole Foods changed their gingerbread house kit. I kept wandering around the store downtown, looking for the familiar box, before I finally realized that their gingerbread house kit had morphed into a gingerbread chalet kit. And so I knew there would be trouble.
I could barely assemble the template, let alone the actual chalet. And I was supposed to tape these windows on the inside of the chalet and they didn’t fit and I was standing in the kitchen with the kit spread all around me and I knew I had, like, maybe an hour to get the chalet put together before our guests arrived and so I started to cry and then my husband walked in and said in this little sing-song voice, Remember the Christmas Mommy killed herself?
And so I threw the template for the chalet into the recycling bin and told The Boy we were making gingerbread cookies instead. And he didn’t care one whit because really, he just wanted to eat the icing and sprinkles.
So you see, I saved myself a lot of angst.
The second time I gave myself a break was preparing for that Christmas party I told you about, the one for the executive committee at my husband’s office. Any other year I would’ve run out and bought a new dress and I would’ve worn it one time because I never get to go anywhere or do anything and then the next year the dress would likely be too snug because I eat too many cupcakes. So this year I wore something I already had in my closet, a black skirt and a black sweater and black boots with heels.
Now, before you start getting all excited about the heels you should know that these boots are no more stylish than anything else I own. The heels are square because I have a hard enough time walking with any kind of elevation, let alone something skinny, and the toes are square, too, because I’m not cramming my feet into something that hurts. I don’t care how good Nancy Goat promises me I’ll look. So these are the boots I bought, a long time ago:
The mud you see on the one heel is leftover from tromping through the cemetery during my in-laws’ anniversary dinner. I haven’t bothered cleaning them up because I’m not planning on wearing them anytime soon. And my best friend from sixth grade would be very pleased to hear that because she eyed them with displeasure when I took them with me to visit her in Houston. She’s kind of a princess. A few visits back we decided to hit some bars and I threw on my favorite jeans and a black tee-shirt and my shoes from REI while she was still showering. And then I watched her put on these jeans that she paid a jaw-dropping sum for and this little white blouse with gold spaghetti straps and gold braid, all of which looked smashing against her skin because she’s Colombian. And she had on these skinny little gold heels and she started swiping mascara across her eyelashes and she kept saying, It’s just a pair of jeans and a little blouse.
And then she put on a tiara. I shit you not. A fucking tiara.
But I should’ve known better because when she came up to take care of me after my brain surgery she brought a questionable wardrobe. There I was, a good six months pregnant and already spilling out of everything I owned, and every afternoon I’d make her walk with me a little bit farther: the first day to the mailbox, the second day down the street, the third day around the block. And on that third day she was wearing a pair of strappy heels and complaining about her feet. And I was like, hello? Huge scar on the side of my skull here. And I said, Why did you bring fuck-me heels on this visit? And she said, I brought a lot of things. And I kind of narrowed my eyes and when we got back to the house I dug through her suitcase and she was right. She had all of these cute little outfits, mini skirts and halter tops. And I was like, I just had brain surgery, what did you think we’d be doing? But she likes to be prepared.
And I’ve gotten totally distracted from my story. My story was about my black boots. I wore my black boots to my husband’s Christmas party. But I was really cold that day and so I put on these fluffy black socks instead of–well, instead of whatever women usually wear with boots. And my boots were nice and tight, which was perfectly fine at first. But then we got to the restaurant downtown and everyone stood around and talked and had cocktails for thirty minutes and by the time we sat down I was pretty much crippled.
And then all my blood decided to pool in my feet. And I made it through my lobster bisque but then I was feeling really light-headed and like I just might faint, which I’ve done before, in many a public place. And so I excused myself and hobbled out of the private dining room and the hostess approached with a big smile and I asked her to point me in the direction of the ladies’ room but instead she walked me there herself, smiling and looking in my eyes the entire time. And at first I thought maybe she was interested, you know, but then I realized that this is what happens when you have dinner in the private dining room.
I hung out in the ladies’ room just long enough to alarm my husband and then I came back and I actually felt worse. And so about fifteen minutes later I excused myself again and the same hostess marched me back to the ladies’ room where I did a nice inverted yoga pose until the blood rushed back into my head. And then I felt much better. And the second we left the restaurant I kicked off those boots and took off my socks, too. And the world felt right again.
So you see? Maybe I’m not as anal as you thought.
Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Hritz hritzontheedge All Rights Reserved