Here’s Looking At You (I sure am)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people pretend they can’t see glaringly obvious body malfunctions.

“Oh, I didn’t even notice you had spinach stuck between your two front teeth.”

“What pimple? I can barely even see your dainty, dirt-free pores.”

“Don’t be silly. No one else will even notice the, ahem, Gatorade stain on your white skirt.”

Not only do I NOT BELIEVE YOU, but my opinion of you has now plummeted a few notches for the impertinent lie. These kinds of things are not subtle, and you aren’t doing me any favors by “pretending” that you didn’t notice that I had my shirt on backwards all morning. As a friend, it is your duty to shield me from as much awkward embarrassment as possible, therefore, when you see me looking crazy – for the love of all that’s good, TELL ME.

I’m even happy to have complete strangers helping me get through the day in one piece. See a dark, stray hair blemishing the back of my white shirt while standing behind me on the train? Feel free to pluck it off. Notice while sharing the elevator that I’ve got mascara smudged underneath my eyes? Please, go ahead and give me a little clue. I won’t be mad atcha! It’s a true kindness and deserves a badge of honor to deliver the truth, albeit as kindly as possible, to those around us so that they can avoid these needless pitfalls.

But, the truth is, I notice a lot of details on people. Perhaps more than the normal human being. For instance, today while in a meeting, I became engrossed in the fact that 3 of the 4 men at the table had an intense amount of dark hair on their arms. Like, seriously, they were all in the third phase of werewolf transformation. It looked like they would need a comb to keep it in check.

Additionally? Another one of the guys had exceptionally pretty lips. They were perfectly bowed on top and plump on the bottom. The kind you would draw on a comic book superhero to accompany his sexy five-o’clock shadow. This of course sounds super creepy, like I’m one of those hillbillies in Deliverance saying “You got a purdy mouth.” Shudder.

It’s just that I happen to be fascinated with the details, and constantly soak them in when in the company of others. While listening to you talk I might easily notice that your hair is wonderfully shiny and looks really soft. Or that the freckles on your arm are in the shape of a spaceship.

Have you ever really paid attention to people’s hands? A big, bulky guy, buying vitamin B tablets and Muscle Milk next to me at Walgreens, might have baby-size hands that are smooth and callus free.

Or the woman in line at Snappy Salads who’s tapping obnoxiously on the plastic sneeze-barrier will have an extra lumpy knuckle, one she clearly chews on when she’s anxious or upset. And now it’s all calloused and protruding and a foot away from the edamame I’m now thinking of leaving off my salad.

Hands can be hilariously missized for the overall height of a person. When I was in 5th grade I took an art class where we were learning figure drawing and the method of proper proportion. My teacher explained that a person’s hand was, on average, supposed to be the same size as their face.

Try it. Line your palm up with your chin and spread your palm over your face like a catcher’s mitt. Does your middle finger almost meet your hairline? Congratulations, your hand is fairly proportional. As for the rest of you, who’s hands barely cover your nose, don’t worry too much. I doubt thaaaaat many people will notice the anomaly (aside from me, of course).

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This kind of microscopic attention to detail is even worse when it comes to things I tend to self-obsess about. For instance, I have never had nice skin. I battled acne for 10 years before going on Accutane in 2008, and I’ve yet to wake up in the morning without leaning into the mirror to inspect my entire face for anything foreign and unwanted that might have sprouted up overnight. Thus, I am terribly fascinated with women around me who are blessed with flawless skin. I’ll be listening to you tell a story while simultaneously following the smooth sweep of your brow and relishing in the beautifully soft, unlined curve of your cheek. I’ll sigh wistfully at your invisible pores and wonder what kind of under-eye cream you use before bed.

I also have a weird thing about eyebrows. Mine, if left unattended, would take up half my forehead. Like I got drunk and pasted a fake mustache too far up on my face. I spent many years trying to tackle them myself and ended up with all sorts of questionable question-mark shaped icons tacked onto my head. But then an eyebrow-waxing magician changed my life and I haven’t looked back since.

That being said, now I’m always curiously looking at the exact definition of other girl’s eyebrows. Do they have a really defined arch? Are they filling in with a curiously mismatched pencil? Are they battling some errant hairs that seem to be rebelling from the pack and sticking up? An old boss of mine had eyebrow hairs at least an inch long that curled away from his forehead. I can’t tell you how desperately I wanted to just reach up, and pluck them off.

Understandably, sometimes this kind of thing can get a girl in trouble. I was talking to a co-worker today and she mentioned how she accidentally made an office enemy after being caught one too many times giving another woman the elevator eyes. Anytime they were in the same room together, she would find herself staring at this other woman’s clothing. But while she was truly appreciating her sense of style and grace, all the other woman saw was some snotty bitch giving her the once over.

Therefore, I try to be sly in my perusal, or at least offer an immediate compliment if caught. I swear I’m not judging. Well, 90% of the time I’m not judging. Mostly I just end up fascinated with the slight nuances that make us all individuals. And I store them away as minute fodder for a character I might create one day.

In the meantime, I cross my heart pinky swear that I’ll do my best to let you know if something funky is going on with your appearance. Or anything you can control, that is. I can’t do nuthin ‘bout that gnarly, chewed on knuckle. Ew.

Wanna Be Friends? Check Yes/No

When was the last time you had to make friends? I mean, really, truly, make the effort to appear fun/attractive/interesting enough to some group of strangers in the hopes that maybe one of them would someday enjoy playing Apples To Apples in the basement of your house while drinking copious amounts of red wine.

It’s such a stress as an adult! When you’re little, there isn’t so much to think about and friends are made and lost in the span of a dodgeball game. Did Melissa share your love of My Little Pony? BFF’s forever. Did Brandi invite you to choreograph a dance to Madonna’s Like A Prayer on the playground at recess? Bosom buddy. Did Janet hog the best tiara in your dress-up bin and make fun of Peaches and Cream Barbie a little too much? Cut the B out of your life.

I’m not saying it’s not dramatic, the epic shifts and changes of those you choose to play with throughout your childhood and beyond. There are many tears (or in a boy’s world, punches in the face) to be dealt with when naive, guileless kids are petty or cruel or unfair. As a parent I’m already dreading the day when my little dude asks me why so-and-so-ginger-headed-neighbor-boy doesn’t want to play with him anymore. What can I say?
“Oh honey, he’s a total d-bag, just don’t worry about it.”
“Sweetie, don’t worry about that pimply, brace-face. His teenage years are gonna be hell.”
“I don’t know baby, maybe because you can’t kick a soccer ball worth shit and he wants to find someone who can actually play.”
(of course, we hope it’s not the third one)
I will have zero control over who’s gonna want to hang out with my kid through thick and thin. All I can do is try and raise him to be as easy-going, intelligent, fun-loving and lighthearted as possible…and pray that he’s not super annoying.

But here’s the thing, I’m a grown adult, not a boppy sixth grader ready to take on a whole batch of new middle-school recruits. How exactly am I supposed to meet people to make friends??

My husband, son and I just moved from Texas back to my midwestern home. It’s an interesting transition as we are currently squatting at my parents house while waiting to close on our future home. I’m even sleeping in my old, adolescent bedroom. It’s like a weird flashback where I’m actually allowed to have a boy in my room (in my bed!!)  and not have the “lights on, doors open” rule enforced by my dad. Except in this scenario, there is also a toddler upstairs who wakes up promptly at 7am every morning screaming Eat! Eat! Eat!

We moved back to be closer to family. To buy our first home. To hopefully lay down some permanent roots and build a community of our own to run around with, raise our kids with, amass embarrassing drunken stories with. But first, we have to find those people.

The first thought that comes to mind is attempting to reconnect with old friends who still live in the area. We might still have something in common, right? I’ve stalked enough on Facebook to see that some of them have young children and/or still seem to enjoy watching losing sports teams and drinking Miller Light. But then, even if we get past that awkward hurdle of “Oh, hey, you. Uh, wanna maybe hang out sometime and see if you still think I’m normal (and vice versa)?” there is this huge fear that we’ll get in a room together and have nothing to share with one another besides old stories about that time we drove around stealing lawn ornaments.

I started a new job this week, and can’t help thinking every day I pass through the halls that somewhere inside this building is a new bff just waiting to welcome this not a nerd…but almost girl into his/her life. It’s not a crazy thought, I’ve been lucky enough to have it happen before. Now I just have to seek them out…

Let’s see, where to begin? Ah yes. I had sent out some introductory emails to associates with whom I will be working with down the road. While reading through their responses, I came upon one that seemed exceptionally friendly. Dare I say, fun? I held my breath as I went to check her out on the company org chart, which halleluja!, includes photos.

Jackpot! She’s relatively young. I don’t detect any crazy eyes and her smile is authentic, yet quirked enough to convey that she knows standing in a mustard-colored hallway, haloed in florescent lighting, isn’t going to be her best look. This could be her. She could be fun, enjoy writing or running, think Halloween is the best day of the year, too. Who knows?

I haven’t sacked-up yet and gone to visit. My hair kind of looks like ass today and I dread the fact that I’ll get lost on the way to her office. Not sure what I’m so afraid of. I’ll either find myself laughing heartily while bouncing ungracefully on an oversize athletic ball in her cube, rejoicing that this is just the beginning of a lifelong friendship, or I won’t. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow…

Is 18 months too young to enroll my kid in some sort of competitive sport? I keep imagining how perfect it will be to meet other cool, like-minded adults when we’re all huddled around the sidelines of a soccer field on Saturday morning. Each lamenting over the early hour while hugging our coffee, and then covertly making fun of that one kid who keeps picking boogers instead of chasing the ball. Haha, gross. Wanna grab lunch somewhere they serve margarita’s before noon?

My husbands parents have a very tight-knit group of friends that they’ve maintained since high-school sports days. All those seasons of football, basketball and baseball where the same 5 couples took over their reserved portion of the bleacher seats and prepared to cheer their kids to victory. Then they knew exactly whose turn it was to bring stadium snacks, and now they take turns boating together while thoroughly enjoying retirement in sunny Florida. I’m not one to fast-track time, but that sounds pretty amazing.

I guess, in the meantime, we’ll just have to be fearless in our search to find future boating buddies. We’re good enough. We’re smart enough. And gosh darnit, people will like us! So, if sometime in the near future I show up in your office all smiles and supposed-to-be-funny quips, hoping to appear casual yet clever yet entertaining…throw me a bone, eh? I promise I’m not a serial killer.