Several years ago my mom was exiting her local grocery store when a car stopped next to her and someone jumped out, grabbed her purse from the basket and took off. Her knee-jerk reaction was savage, unprecedented and aggressive as she hurled the closest and heaviest object in their direction as if to will them to halt. Unfortunately, her keys didn't pack much of a punch and landed listlessly a mere few feet away. As she recounted the story she mused about the funny things people do when they're taken by surprise like that. She called the police. They were not optimistic about finding the culprits, nor did they seem too intent on pursuing it. Bigger fish to fry and all that.
That's why it shocked all of us when a full year later the police called and reported to my mother, "We found your wallet!" Where had it been all this time? In the hands of a prostitute, using my mother's name, having cut out my mom's picture and inserted one of her own. "Mom!" I exclaimed. "You're a hooker?!" The thought amused me. Nothing could be further from one's imagination than to think of Lynn, a staunch Republican known to make her own bread and take in stray humans, walking the sketchy alleys of Esco waving down Ford Escorts to make ends meet.
A while after this incident I was meandering our local mall with a group of friends. I don't recall what took us there as I rarely shop in the mall. Frankly, I don't shop well with others. Furthermore, other than the food court and the Godiva sample counter I don't feel like I belong there. I barely feel at home in the Magnolia Home section of Target let alone a Nordstrom. "I'll see your Cadillac Escalade and raise you a 12-year-old minivan with hail damage." I'm not exactly their target audience. I still remember taking my daughter to the mall for the first time when she was 5-years-old. As we walked in, her hand in mine, she raised her eyes to the lights overhead that dotted the domed ceiling, took in the beauty of the thick, bolted wood beams that criss-crossed and slanted beneath the windows which were shining down gobs of natural light. She glimpsed the sturdy, upholstered chairs, caught view of the shiny, mopped floors and inhaled the scent of Mrs. Fields and gasped, "What IS this place?" I don't recall what took us there, but I'm certain I got in and out as fast as possible, dashing the hopes of my starry-eyed, exultant child.
In an attempt to try my hand at the classy side of life I lost my mind one year and opened up a Nordstrom credit card. With each use of the card I accrued points that turned into dollars I could spend at Nordstrom. Maybe if they weren't "actual" dollars, I reasoned, I could bring myself to use them and buy a few nice things? Well guys, IT WAS A DISASTER. I remember wandering the store with $120 to spend and after an hour and a half of looking at white shirts for $90 that I could get at Kohl's for $25 I gave up and walked out empty-handed. I decided to move on to makeup. Historically I honored myself by choosing the far superior L'Oreal brand to the cheap Wet 'N Wild assortment. That's where I drew the line. I would never be a trashy Wet 'N Wild girl! I would be a classy L'Oreal girl! Because I'm worth it. Now, I headed for the Bobbi Brown counter to get to work. After buying some staples over the course of a few months I wanted to get a little more adventurous, which brings me to the moment I was wandering the store with my friends. I had gained some confidence at the Bobbi Brown counter. I had learned what an eyebrow brush was. I was taught to apply lipstick appropriately. At this point I was in search of a contrast eye shadow, so I knowingly made my way to the bottom floor and hung a left past the shoes and found a girl who looked ready to change my life. "HI." I straightened my posture to somehow feign credibility and eventually requested, "Could you maybe show me how to do a smoky eye?" (As visions of Vogue covers danced in my head.) "Sure!" she replied. I took my seat, she gathered, applied and advised as she went. I anxiously awaited my reveal. I was certain this was a pivotal moment meant to catapult me from Wal-Mart connoisseur to Nordstrom chic.
Have you ever gone into a situation expecting one thing and come out with something exactly opposite?
Upon finishing my look the Bobbi Brown makeup
Today is my mother's 85th birthday. I have her eyes. Like her, I value comfort over fashion, intellectual conversation over chit-chat and share a mutual disdain for dogs that assume the right to smell and lick me without my permission. And to top it all off, we share a hooker story.