My barometer for mean stretches pretty far. Pretty far. Allow me to explain myself. As I type these words, I am currently seated in an airport terminal – hooked up to wireless, plugged in as it were.. ah, modern day conveniences.. and this woman is sitting across from me, four people over. As I walked up to plug in, she gave me what I would define as a mean look – furrowed brow, mouth turned down, eyes judging me (I knew I shouldn’t have worn these boots with this suit). This could very well be an exaggeration, but for the sake of material, let’s say it’s not.
I have now focused on her implicitly, catching sidewinder glimpses of her hoping that the grimace she gave me was just the natural physical expression of her face, that she was born with that awful scowl. That has been known to happen before, my Pollyanna outlook has some merit to it. “Things are not always as they seem.” I’m running off at the fingers right now, but this warrants some explanation. I remember a time when I was 12 or 13 – coming into my own as a young woman – and Mother Turd and I were in Los Gatos wandering around town trying to find my long lost God Mother who disappeared when I was 3 after a falling out with Mother Turd. (A long story for yet another blog entry). We were sitting on a bench eating ice cream, defeated and exhausted from our search and a man was sitting across from us, sunglasses on, eyeing us.. I could tell. He wouldn’t stop looking in our direction, and considering my mother’s old age, he couldn’t very well be sizing her up. Had to be me. So, I started flirting. Not overtly, mind you. Just trying on the flirtation like a training bra (which I had yet to own at that point, by the way).
I licked my ice cream slowly. I crossed my legs. I smiled in his direction. I dangled my flip flop off of my big toe. He kept looking our (my) way. I was sure he found this little Lolita display quite seductive. This went on until my mother turned around and asked what the hell I was doing. Nothing. Just lickkking myyy iccee crreaaam…. I let out a flirty little laugh and looked towards my potential suitor once again. And then, he got up (I’ve really done it now, I thought. I have gone too far with the flirting because he is going to come over here and ask my mother for permission to take me away to his polygamist compound where I will become his seventeenth wife and have to push out my first kid at 13. Knowing Mother Turd, she probably would have given him some walking around money for his offer). As he arose from the bench, he grabbed his white cane, tapped the side of the bench to gauge his surroundings, and gingerly walked away using the cane as a guide.
I use this specific experience as a reason to give people, this woman sitting across from me, the benefit of the doubt – that perhaps I am not interpretting peoples' actions accurately, that perhaps her face is normally like that, or she is having a bad day or just found out her kid is in trouble with the authorities. But now, as I steal another glance to support my assertion, she is giggling with her husband, boyfriend, dude, and she is quite pretty and her facial expression is inviting, that is until she sees me looking at her again. (Damn, caught.) And then the scowl reappears. So, now I have come to the conclusion that it’s me she doesn’t like and now I don’t like her because she is “mean”. I have categorized her. She’s dead to me, Fredo. (For the women reading this, the phrase is a quote from the Godfather, which I had to learn the hard way. If you know this already, use it. And if someone uses it on you, cite the movie. This will increase your cool quota two fold. Do not under any circumstances ask who Fredo is like I did. You will forever be branded a lame-o by your male friends.)
“Mean”, ah yes, who else is in my mean file? The clerk at the Shell Gas Station off of Freeport. When I fill up and use my debit card, the number 9 always gets stuck (now you know one number in my four-digit pin). And so, I am forced to get out of my car, walk in to the cashier and pay at the counter. (I can’t believe I am actually complaining about this, but let’s get on to Mr. Mean). So, invariably, I give him my card, smile at him in a way that almost forces a smile back. This doesn’t happen. Ever. And it drives me crazy. On bad days, he doesn’t even look up at me. Sometimes I find myself with my ear about two inches from the counter looking up his nostrils non-verbally begging for a smile, validation, anything. Nada. Mr. Mean is not there to make friends. One day, Mr. Mean told me that my card was rejected. Impossible, I said, run it again. He responded that he ran it twice. The gas had already been pumped so I owed him something. I asked if he took checks. Head nod. I asked if he had any dishes that I could wash in the back. Another stern head nod. Then he pointed to the ATM.
That blasted machine charged me $3.50 to take out my own money. Mr. Mean and the ATM machine were permanently lodged in my mean file.
Moving on. I have a tendency to ramble. I know this comes as a surprise for most, but on occasion, I start talking and I can hear myself telling my mouth to make sense or wrap it up, but it’s a compulsion. I can’t shut up, and the more I talk, the uglier it gets. For instance, a conversation may start out about public pension sustainability and end up as a marital dispute I had with Pants last Saturday. If I end up on this kick, I advise people to politely offer the following:
“Can you clarify? I am not following.”
“You have a lot going on in your head, how do you keep everything straight?”
Or my personal favorite, “You’re funny.”
What I dislike immensely and what will likely get you into the mean category on a very permanent basis – you know who you are, but knowing how mean you are, I can assume that you are probably not reading my blog – do not say the following to me, ever:
“Um.. (throat clear) what the hell are you talking about?”
“You know, I don’t know what you’re on, but you are making zero sense.”
“Do you live in some fantasy world that none of us know about?”
“You’re kind of dumb.”
Let me be clear: the aforementioned responses have been used on me on a number of occasions, and yes, some even in a work setting. Okay, maybe not the last one. Maybe that came from my 2 year old. And I would never put him in my mean file.. that is until he is 14 and cusses at me in Spanish for asking him to clean up his room before playing futbol outside.
And just in case you were wondering, there are over a dozen people that fit the last mean file category.
Now on to my favorite. The a-hole who invented high heels.
I am certain this was a man for two reasons. First, a woman would have invented pillow shoes that slip on and off in all earth tone colors and would expand automatically during pregnancy. Instead, we are left with stuffing our oversized bread loaves into little party hats. Sorry, grandma, but your big sour dough loaves do not look good in those pay less pumps.
Second, the higher the heel, the better your butt looks. I don’t care if your derrière is the size of Mount Hood. You put a pair of 5 inch Jimmy Choos on her, that woman is going to look like Kim Kardashian going. This has "man invention" written all over it.
And for these reasons, I curse the day Jimmy Choo got into the business. I have done a small bit of research on the subject; high heels were around during ancient Egypt, 3,500 B.C in an effort to show stature and wealth. And I am not naïve to think that little ol’ me will somehow turn this eternal fashion statement into a thing of the very very distant past. But I can offer up my distaste for the guy who originally invented them, whoever that Egyptian may be..
I bring to this debate a unique perspective. I was born with what doctors called a club foot. No, this is not to describe my leg as being a baseball bat resting on a stump. When I was born, my achillies tendon was shortened which stunted the growth of my foot resulting in a major size difference between my two feet. One foot (the “normal” one) is a size 7 in women’s. The other is a size 5.. or 5 and a half if you take in the fact that the width of the “clubby” (thanks 4th grade friends, for the nickname) is about the width of my right thigh.
As you can imagine, this has made the otherwise pure joy of shoe shopping a living nightmare for me. Here are some of my regular challenges:
• Can’t wear pumps – little to no heel on the “clubby” means I can’t keep the damn shoe on.
• Can’t wear high heeled sandals – the toes on my clubby don’t reach the cute part where my perfectly manicured toes are supposed to just peek out and say hi.
• Can’t buy one shoe of each size – those a-hole shoe makers have some rule that you can’t buy just one shoe. “What do you expect us to do with the other shoe?” How about find someone with my problem, only opposite? (Incidentally, I tried this once. Some organization out of San Francisco had a program where people with different sized feet traded shoes. Well, I never found anyone, and if I did, would I really have the same taste as them? My luck, it would be some 80 year old who has a penchant for house slippers. No thank you.)
• Can’t wear 3 inches or above unless you want to see me do a face plant on the sidewalk.
According to another Grade A Rat’s website (Manolo Blahnik), high heels are considered 5 inches or higher. Medium heels are at 2.5 to 3.5 and anything lower would be considered flats. Are you kidding me? Really? How can I even compete in this market? I might as well just give up and hit up the Birkenstocks store because I am out, ladies. I can’t keep up the façade any longer. My knees hurt, my clubby aches, my toes are tired of being crammed into shoes that don’t fit. (Cotton in the toes after 8 hours becomes frankly, down right painful).
So, if you see me walking around in a pair of Larry’s Comfort Shoes, just tell me I look nice. Compliment my suit, don't even glance below my waste. Look, I know my booty won’t "pop", I get that. I am willing to accept that tiny defeat, and I am willing to do it in exchange for better comfort and Mr. High Heels being put into my mean file… eternally.