The other day I went to the mall to buy something new to wear to the Art Fair opening.
There I was at the store’s shoe department, 3:00 p.m. (Art Fair opening hour: 7:30 p.m.), looking and looking to see if something would caught my eye.
After going around the shoe-laden islands, like 200 times, all I saw were flats, or skyscrapers, that looked like models from Frank Gerhy, Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad or any other famous architect studio. Six inches tall, designed like an aerodynamic something, but meant to be worn by tortured female feet.
“And we are supposed to walk in THOSE?” My left knee asked, bringing back memories of walking with crutches, while I healed from my back-to-back knee surgeries, in my late twenties. I didn’t have to answer: My right knee just stopped and said, full of attitude: “Poor you, always poor you. While I’ve been doing YOUR share of the work for the past 25 years! And she was skinny then…”
But I was feeling sassy, and decided not to listen to them. In fact, I started to look at the ladies around me, trying them on, and they look hot, like 10 feet tall! Hey: Giselle Bundchen: here I come! So I asked the poor guy to bring me a couple of models that I’ve liked, and I sat and waited for my bungee jumping trial.
So the 5’4” salesman comes with the 2 boxes. My feet, ready for the challenge, tried the first pair. Sitting down, the shoes felt good. Great design, they looked amazing. I could picture myself walking on them: a runway model. Then I stepped on the first elevator, and I left the guy behind, his head, at my waist. At least I can use him as a cane, should an accident occur, I thought. And I started to walk… or move forward… Giselle Bundchen? I think I looked more like a giant baby taking her first steps on stilts! Not glamorous, nope.
So the model-to-be listened to her wise knees, and she went to the Fair with some clothes she had at home, and a pair of safe middle-of-the-road-shoes, previously test-driven by the owner. I didn’t have to focus on what I was wearing, or the fact that my life was in danger, but on the people and the celebration of art. And everybody said I looked fantastic. They could even look at me in the eyes, not the navel, while they were talking to me.
How many times do we do or wear something just to look good to others? Don’t take me wrong: I like fashion, and I don’t dress that bad, but we can go to extremes, for what we *think* makes us look good to others.
I remember the time, during HS, when my best friend and I were getting ready to go to a dance. We went to an all-girls Catholic school, so a dance with guys was as exhilarating, as it was nerve-wrecking. Yes, we saw them at parties and stuff, but back then, they were Martians: They had this out-of-this-world power to make Miss Always Knew what to Say at school and with friends (*me*), turned into a petrified mute. And that lasted for years to come.
So we decided we wanted to look HOT: 14 years-old and irresistibly hot. First: the hair. At the time, having a wave was a sin, with a curl you were not worthy of breathing; all this in a 10000% humidity climate. I mean: The Skipper was my idol.
So, after washing our hair with a concoction that a Skipper-like friend had suggested, we started with *the* tool: a hot iron. I cannot remember exactly how it happened, but I sure can remember the smell... and the sound. I fried my hair!
Then, these trailblazers were dreaming of a white smile, long-before the White Strips were in the minds of Procter & Gamble product development teams. Go figure why that was so important: I know I barely smiled at the guys, though my friend was a lot more out there. Or maybe I did smile, like a petrified mute.
So anyways, we decided to wash our teeth with baking soda –hey, if it was good for the fridge…-, and a little bit of toothpaste. Hmmm: not bad: Our teeth did look whiter. But so did our gums! I cannot describe how weird looking that was. Like we had this disease, or something.
So, the 2 geniuses, now short of time –the designated chauffeur already in the car waiting for us (*my Mom*)-, decided to look for something in the bathroom, that could turn our gums back to some sort of normality, fast. And bingo. We found it: Merthiolate and Q’tips as utensils!
I can still picture ourselves looking at the mirror, with the whitest of teeth now being surrounded by orange rivers of sheer hellish pain, laughing and crying our way to the car.
I don't know how good we looked, and that was not what really mattered. We had a blast, and we were weaving memories of those times we wanted to look like grown-up divas, with white smiles of confidence, and the perfect hair of Skipper.