Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Do we ever really see ourselves? I remember an old friend of mine, Betty, would catch a glimpse of herself in a shopping mall mirror and then stop, startled. She would look at her reflection, sigh, shake her head and exclaim, "In my head, I always think I'm way cuter than I really am. Mirrors suck."
Mirrors do suck. Some mornings, I lurch to the bathroom, flick on the light and gasp in horror. What happened during the night to turn me into a 90-year-old prostitute? As I recall, I went to bed looking semi-okay; I mean, my husband wanted to jump me, so it must not have been that bad. But whaaaaa? Who on Earth is that Gorgon staring back at me a mere 8 hours later?
As a writer, I'm constantly scrutinizing people. If I see someone interesting, I'll narrow my eyes, hone-in, try to absorb every nuance and facial tic. It sort of drives my husband crazy. "Quit staring," he'll hiss at me in public places.
When we went to Disney World--the Official Homeland of Freakshows--this spring, I thought he was going to throttle me. I couldn't stop gawking and rubbernecking to save my life.
For someone so observant of others, I am shockingly un-self-aware. I do strange shit all the time and have no idea. Even worse, when my husband (that obnoxious lout) points out said strange shit, I have the gall to adamantly deny that I've done anything weird.
Yeah, I don't know why he married me, either.
A few months after we'd been dating, my husband took me to a new restaurant. I can't even remember the name of the place, but it was hoppin' and full of beautiful people, and I enjoyed myself. About halfway through the meal, hubs furrowed his brow and asked, "Is your dinner okay?"
"Yeah, you want a bite?" I said.
"No, I'm good," he said, and we continued eating.
A few minutes later, the waitress wandered into the vicinity and hubs asked, "Do you want me to flag her down? Do you want to order something else?"
"No, really, it's fine," I said. "Why do you think something's wrong?"
"Well, you didn't do the Yummy Dance. At all."
"Huh? What do you mean, the Yummy Dance?"
"You know, that thing you do when you really like your food."
"What thing? I don't do anything."
"Yeah you do. You know, this." And he proceeded to show me an exceedingly awkward little upper-body shimmy and head-bob.
He sort of looked epileptic.
"Oh my God. Oh my God!" I was Gobsmacked. "I do not do...Oh my God. You're right. I do do that." If I hadn't been so stunned, I'd have darted under the table in humiliation.
"That's awful!" I wailed.
"No. It's kinda cute," he said.
"Cute? I look like I'm having a medical emergency!"
Later, after the shock dissipated, I called my mother.
"Mom, how long have I been doing this...thing?" I asked. And described the oddity that is the Yummy Dance.
"Not long dear," she replied. "Only, like, your entire life."
So I guess it's settled. A habit so deeply ingrained as the Yummy Dance cannot be extinguished. It is, alas, a Trademark Move. I own it. And it only took me 30 years to learn it existed. So much for those razor-sharp powers of observation.