Monday, October 5, 2009

Don’t hate me because I am completely ordinary looking

posted Sat, 11 Sep 2004

A bizarre thing happened to me yesterday. A really bizarre thing. I was chatting with the guy behind me in line at TJ Maxx so he wouldn’t get mad about the price check they had to run on these most adorable red Kenneth Cole shoes that may be the solution to my airport shoe dilemma. (You know – no sandals or jeans when flying standby – which for me means a skirt but I don’t want to wear heels because they are not practical when you are running between concourses in Atlanta hoping to catch the connecting flight.)

Anyhow. I was trying to defuse a potentially volatile situation. It was taking forever to get a price and I would have been ticked off I had been the person behind me. They finally found it ($34.99) and I bought the shoes. As I was walking out, the guy runs up behind me. “I have to tell you something,” he said breathlessly. I frowned. Had I tucked my skirt into my pantyhose inadvertently and been flashing the world for the past 20 minutes? Couldn’t someone have said something earlier?

But no. “You are strikingly beautiful,” is what he said.

Oh.

Well. Now, that’s not something I hear every day or even every decade. It’s not the sort of thing people say about me. As a matter of fact, what I am used to hearing is “fatso” (not since fourth grade, actually, but those memories stick). In college and shortly thereafter, there were guys who told me I would be cute if I would just “lose some weight.” I was not asked to a single high school dance. When I looked at my passport photo yesterday, I realized that the trick with those photos is to put your chin down, not up. I look awful.

Actually, there are only two extant photos of me that I like. One is my second-grade school picture, which maybe my mom would scan and send to me so I could post it. The other is my current driver’s license photo, where I did remember to put my chin down. I keep telling myself that the reason photos of me are so yucky is that I am not photogenic, but I fear the truth is worse.

Anyhow, that’s why this guy’s pronouncement came as such a shock. And that’s why it has no impact on me other than to cause me to shake my head in puzzlement. He was wearing really thick glasses, now that I think of it. No, my real world is this: a guy stopped me this morning while I was running. “What’s that on your face?” he asked, pointing to his cheeks.

Oh. He noticed that my face is completely white. Yes, I smear zinc oxide on my cheeks before I go running. We blue-eyed blonde (OK, light brown) Norwegians do not mix well with the sun. The irony is that I tan beautifully everywhere except my face, where I get big brown blotches on my cheeks and forehead. Zinc oxide is the best way to block the sun short of never going into the sun.

I guess that if someone can look at a chubby, blotchy-faced middle-aged (isn’t 40 middle age? Or is 40 really the new 30?) woman and call her beautiful, I guess that woman should be grateful.

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