I see life through rose.., p.13

I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses, page 13

 

I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses
 


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  Eighty percent of the people might dismiss me as a hag, but I’m focusing on the 20 percent who are smarter than that.

  The ones who see me, even though I’m fading into the background.

  The ones who don’t need a blinking neon sign to find a human being.

  The ones who value a heart over a face.

  And I’m seeing you back.

  You’ll always count to me, even when others count you out.

  Because sometimes, 20 percent can be greater than 80 percent.

  That’s my kind of math.

  The Truth Comes Out

  Francesca

  Dating someone new is a delicate dance of introducing yourself as you truly are and guessing at who the other person wants you to be.

  I’m good at reading people, sometimes too much for my own good. When I was younger and a guy would approach me, I would size him up and fashion myself in the style of whomever I thought he wanted for the duration of that conversation. It came more from a place of people-pleasing rather than manipulation, but I confess, I thought it prudent to ensure that the guy liked me while I decided whether or not I liked him back. I never outright lied, but I edited the truth.

  At a sports bar for my friend’s engagement to a guy from upstate, I talked to a future groomsman about my long-suffering Eagles fandom and that I’m a feminist who listens to Howard Stern.

  When my older cousin took me to a fund-raiser at the posh Union Club, I talked to his friend about what I studied at Harvard and why I prefer Puccini to Wagner.

  Both were completely true, if incomplete.

  All that game got me was a lot of phone numbers of guys who weren’t quite the right match for me. So I’ve stopped being such a chameleon, and I’ve worked on being more authentically myself right off the bat.

  Never more so with this last guy I dated. We were introduced by mutual friends, and although we had many differences—different nationalities, religions, native languages—we hit it off. I hadn’t been so excited about a guy in a long while. And as much as I feared bursting our bubble of infatuation, I forced myself to be honest about my nonnegotiables about who I am and what I’m looking for. Chief among them?

  Must love dogs.

  I’m genuinely more malleable about religion than I am about my dog, Pip.

  Dog is God spelled backwards for a reason.

  Of course I love my cat, too, she’s not going anywhere, but the dog is my world, and I will always have pets. I communicated this loud and clear on our first date.

  He assured me he was right there with me. “My last serious girlfriend had a rescued pit bull, and that dog loved me more than it loved her.”

  I had my doubts about that—I remembered how Pip would greet my old boyfriends with such enthusiasm before turning ice-cold the moment we broke up—but I liked his positivity around dog ownership. We were in the clear.

  The morning after the first night he spent at my place, we were sitting in my bed talking, and Pip put his paws up on the side of the bed. I felt sorry for relegating him to the floor overnight, so I pulled him up onto my lap.

  “Whoa.” My new beau recoiled. “I told you I was a dog lover, but I have my limits.”

  “Is one of those limits dogs on the bed?” I asked with a grin.

  He nodded.

  “Well, that’s too bad, because that’s not the rule in this house!”

  He laughed and I thought we were cool.

  But even so, I put Pip back down on the floor, pretending to be the type of person who only lets her dog on the bed for a momentary snuggle, instead of the truth:

  That my date had just spent the night sleeping on “Pip’s pillow.”

  If you come for the king, you best not miss!

  Don’t worry, I changed the sheets.

  Recently.

  But I figured this was all part of getting to know each other, and we were basically on the same page. The next several weeks of dating went without incident, until one night, we were walking the dog together before bed. Pip began doing his business on the curb, when all of a sudden, inside my boyfriend’s mind, a dam burst.

  “You see your dog taking a shit? Think of all the dogs that shit on this sidewalk all day long. This sidewalk is covered in shit. And we wear boots to walk out here, but the dog doesn’t. We take our boots off in your apartment, but that dog tracks that shit in your house. And then on you”—he then pantomimed paws by walking his hands up my chest and then pushing them onto my face—“and you let that dog in your bed!”

  Shocked, I stood still as stone, like a statue holding a plastic baggie. He had rarely cursed or raised his voice before this outburst, and the last time he’d seen the dog in the bed was weeks ago. Had he been stewing on this all that time?

  I was angry, but I didn’t want to escalate things, so I answered softly, “Well, I love ‘that dog,’ so I guess I don’t mind.”

  He laughed, and shouted, “You can love him all right, but that f*cking dog is tracking shit in your house!”

  Dear reader, I can only attempt to convey to you the ice that formed around my heart at that moment: if you had been there, you could’ve heard the crystals crackle and squeak. I’ve never tolerated the use of expletives in arguments with boyfriends, certainly not in reference to my son.

  I remained calm and replied in a tone that lowered the temperature around me ten degrees, “Don’t talk to me like that.”

  Don’t talk to us like that.

  He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, I can’t make a joke?”

  “You’re joking?” As I heard it, he was telling the truth.

  “Oh, okay, fine. You refuse to laugh at any of my jokes tonight.” His words still had edge, but his laugh was shot through with nerves. He knew he’d messed up.

  Pip on “his” pillow

  I offered the world’s tightest smile in case there was any doubt.

  We walked back to my apartment in silence. When we got in, I went to get a glass of water because the fury had made my mouth dry.

  When I returned, I found my soon-to-be-ex had, in an act of great optimism or denial, stretched out on my bed.

  I took a sip of water. “We need to talk.”

  See, my truth is, I’m the type of person who will break up with you if you talk about my dog like that, and I couldn’t pretend otherwise. I said what followed with more maturity and tact, but the subtext was:

  I’m sorry, but I don’t let pieces of shit in my bed.

  Itchy and Scratchy, the Sequel

  Lisa

  You may remember that I used to write about Mother Mary’s love of backscratchers.

  Yes, I made fun of my mother for profit.

  You know what?

  She approved.

  She loved that I wrote about her. In fact, sometimes when I would call her, she would begin the conversation with, “I did something you should write about.”

  And thanks to all of you, who gave me the chance to give her the spotlight that she deserved, and frankly that all of us deserve.

  We all do things that we should write about.

  So here I am, writing about them, so you don’t have to.

  Don’t worry, I’m a professional.

  I got this.

  Today I’m remembering that Mother Mary had six backscratchers in her house. She even traveled with one when she came to see me, because I didn’t have any.

  Let me tell you, a backscratcher looks strange in a suitcase.

  Actually a backscratcher looks strange anywhere.

  A stick with a hand on the end is the stuff of nightmares.

  My mother had a backscratcher that was black enamel bamboo and at one end was a realistic hand with long fake fingernails.

  Eew.

  Still I wish I had that now, but I suspect my brother does. That would be a Scottoline-style family heirloom.

  A backscratcher and maybe a pack of matches.

  In any event, I got to thinking about my mother and her backscratchers because all of a su
dden, my back is superitchy.

  I have a backscratcher, but I have to buy about three hundred more. My one is always upstairs, because I keep it under my pillow at night.

  How sexy is that?

  You know you’re in trouble when the adult toy you use the most in the bedroom is a backscratcher.

  Or maybe you’re not in trouble.

  Maybe you’re doing just fine.

  Maybe you’re living your life exactly as God intended, in purity.

  But when I’m downstairs without the backscratcher, I find myself rubbing my back on doorjambs like a deer.

  I improvise with serving forks, carving forks, and chef’s knives.

  There isn’t a sharp object in the tristate area that I haven’t used to scratch my back.

  One time I was with Francesca, I asked her to scratch my back, and she did, but the relief was only temporary.

  Asking someone to scratch your back never works out the way you hoped.

  It takes too long for them to find the itch, since you can’t properly direct them.

  Saying “there, not there,” and “here, not here,” isn’t very helpful.

  And before long, the guilt feels worse than the itching.

  And even if they find the itch, they never scratch it long enough.

  They get bored, probably because it took so long to find the itch in the first place.

  I, however, am just warming up.

  Scratching my back all day would do just fine.

  But I get it, you have a life.

  My back started itching when I turned sixty, and I wondered if it was related to aging, like if my skin is drying up in general.

  But if that’s true, why don’t my legs itch?

  Or my arms?

  Or my breasts?

  I can’t tell you the last time I had any feelings whatsoever in my breasts.

  So I don’t think it’s aging.

  And so here I am, in dire need of more backscratchers, and on my last book tour, you know what I packed in my suitcase.

  Yes, I did.

  So it’s come full circle, Mother Mary and me, front to back, and back again.

  And every time I reach for a backscratcher, I know Mother Mary is laughing her ass off, in heaven.

  I’ve become my mother, but without the smoking.

  Profanity included.

  You remember at the end of the movie Carrie, when the hand reaches up out of the grave?

  Well, in the movie Lisa, it’s Mother Mary who’s making my back itch from beyond the grave, and the thing that’s sticking up out of the soil is a backscratcher.

  It’s payback, since I made fun of her all those times.

  Or her saying, “I did something you should write about.”

  And so I am.

  Thanks, Mom.

  Slip Sliding Away

  Lisa

  Have you seen the commercial for the Sock Slider?

  I’m so there.

  It’s a device that helps people put on their socks and it’s intended for people with arthritis or mobility issues.

  But what about lazy people like me?

  I might order one.

  Or maybe two, one for each foot.

  And think of the other possibilities.

  There could be a Shirt Slider for people who can’t lift up their arms, or those like me who simply don’t want to.

  Or a Pants Slider that holds your pants open while you jump in.

  A Bra Slider for those who need help putting on a bra.

  Or a Braless Slider for those who realize that bras are optional.

  I’ll buy that.

  I’ll take all the help I can get.

  Why not?

  I say this because last book tour, I brought dresses with zippers on the back and I couldn’t zip them up. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t reach my arm around for the last third of the zip. I was going crazy in my hotel room, whirling around with my elbow in the air.

  What’s a girl to do?

  I couldn’t go to my signing that way, so I stopped at a Starbucks and asked a female barista to zip me up.

  That’s me, no pride.

  It’s my new Starbucks order.

  I’ll have a venti iced green tea latte, soy milk, no syrup, and do you mind dressing me?

  Nobody minded.

  One female barista said with a smile, “I do that for my mom, too!”

  I left her a big tip.

  I love good daughters.

  Of course I didn’t ask any of the male baristas, for fear of sexually arousing them.

  I’m considerate that way.

  So I need a Zipper Slider.

  And an Earring Slider.

  I can’t put my earrings on anymore.

  I don’t know when this started happening, but I’ve noticed it recently. If I have an earring with a post, I can’t hold the little back and put on the earring. I keep dropping the little back. And the last time I tried, I stabbed myself in the earlobe so hard I practically repierced my ear.

  I have the same problem with hoops, where I can’t get the gold wire in the little tunnel.

  When did everything get so little?

  And why don’t my fingers work anymore?

  In truth, more and more, I can’t do any of the fasteners on my jewelry.

  I need a Jewelry Slider.

  I have one really pretty necklace that I can’t fasten in the back.

  I can’t work any of the catches on any chains at all.

  At this point, I wear only necklaces that I can put over my head like a noose.

  Lovely.

  I’m not sure what the cause of this is. The obvious answer is that it’s a getting-older thing, in that as we age, we lose fine motor coordination.

  I’m not a doctor, I don’t know if that’s the answer.

  I’m just a lady telling you what’s happening from the front line, since I wish somebody had told it to me.

  Because I would’ve bought jewelry with fewer fasteners.

  And if it is about aging, God knows what fresh hell is next.

  Before you know it, I’ll need a contraption that holds my necklace up in the air, like a basketball hoop for hags.

  Then I can scoot underneath and launch myself up into it.

  And how long am I going to be able to scoot for?

  When do we start rolling me under the necklace and having a machine lower it around my neck?

  But I don’t know if it’s truly about aging.

  Because an equal possibility to me is that we start caring less, about dumb things like wearing jewelry.

  I remember when it was important to me to wear nice earrings and a necklace. It gave me a lot of pleasure, but I also didn’t feel dressed without it.

  Now I do.

  Now I don’t care.

  That’s the truth about getting older.

  The trappings fall away, and everything becomes simpler.

  I feel dressed just by waking up in the morning.

  Look, world, I get another day of breathing in and out.

  Can you beat that for perfect?

  A Stan Is Born

  Francesca

  My heart raced, my pupils dilated, oxytocin and adrenaline surged through my veins.

  Was I on drugs, in love, in bed?

  I was at a Lady Gaga concert.

  A stan is born.

  A “stan” is defined as an overzealous or obsessive fan, it can also be used as a verb, as in, “We stan for a living legend,” meaning worship and proselytize. For me with Gaga, it was stan at first sight.

  Funny thing was, I’d been dreading that concert before we went. I’d never seen Lady Gaga live before, and I had only a passing appreciation of her music over the years, but I liked her last album especially and dug her Super Bowl performance, so on a whim, I’d splurged on tickets to her outdoor Citi-Field show. When the date came, I miserably watched it rain all day with no sign of stopping. My expensive floor tickets were close to the stage—and far from a
ny overhead covering. And to cap it all off, I’d invited my best friend, who happened to be six months pregnant.

  The thought of dragging her out in the rain made me feel terrible. I told her she was free to bail.

  “Dude I BOUGHT A PONCHO for this!” she texted back.

  This is why we’re friends.

  So we dressed like the Gorton’s fisherman and hoped for the best.

  I didn’t know the best could be so good.

  I’m not going to go on and on about how amazing Gaga was that night, because we can only fit so many pages in this book, and you have your own music taste. All I can tell you is I felt myself change on a molecular level. I was suffused with joy and energy. I was high off it. And not just high, I was attached.

  We didn’t merely enjoy her performance, we were converted.

  “Did we just join a cult?” I asked my friend when it was over.

  Based on the amount of merch we bought, I think so.

  We couldn’t stop talking about how incredible she’d been on the long train ride home. I got in after 1:00 A.M., but couldn’t sleep. I stayed up, reviewing the photos and videos I’d taken during the concert, reliving every moment. Then I read strangers’ tweets about the concert I had just been to. I had to see if anyone else had a religious experience like I had.

  Had they ever.

  And that was how I got introduced into the Gaga stan community, #LittleMonsters.

  Seeing video clips of her current tour in other cities with different stage setups and different adlibs filled me with intense FOMO, and made me wonder:

  Should I see her concert again? I mean, it’s probably mostly the same show, and tickets aren’t cheap. That would be crazy.

  I saw her again in Philly with my mom the next week. I said it was to celebrate my mom finishing her book, but that was a cover story, I just wanted to see Gaga again, and it was totally worth it.

  Plus I successfully converted my mother, so now we’re a Little Monster family.

  If I had more time and money, I would Dead-Head Gaga all over the globe.

  Instead, I’ll have to settle for the virtual proxy of online content. And I’ve been insatiable.

  Fandom is like a snowball and the Internet is the hill. The Internet provides so much material your obsession gains momentum.

  I’ve spent hours in YouTube rabbit holes of Gaga’s performance videos—the current tour in different cities, at different angles, past shows, music videos, TV appearances, interviews—and I only fall deeper in love. I can’t believe I didn’t start stanning for her sooner, I’m making up for lost time.

 
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