There are some people who are just born cool. I was not. There was a time when I had the longest hair in the school. That was around 5th grade. Cool, right? No. Because there was a waif-like anorexic model named “Twiggy” on the scene. Her hair was short, short, short. Every girl in town wanted that pixie hair. I was no exception. I begged and bullied, showed my mom that photo one too many times. She finally took me to get a cut. Not to the girlie place where the nana’s went for the wash and set. Nope. She took me to the place where “you can get that boy’s haircut if you really want it”. The barber. Striped pole, cigar smoke circling the air. He put a rubber band around my hair and cut it off, tossed it in my lap. Then I heard the clippers. No tears fell, but my lip was wobbly holding them in. He did a nice job, I’ll give him that. Years later, in the 90s, I’d even repeat the style. As an adult, however, you could add makeup to that look. Twiggy herself wore about 29 pairs of false eyelashes. Her eyelashes made that look cool! I realized this at home, posing in the mirror. I wasn’t getting any eyelashes. Not at age 11. She wasn’t even listening. So I got on my banana seat Schwinn stingray bike and rode down to the drug store, bought my first tube of Maybelline mascara. I got up early the next morning to get ready. After about 3 coats of that stuff, I felt almost cool. I tried out different angles, posing in the mirror. Not bad. Then my eyes started to itch. I rubbed and rubbed. Finally, tears pouring down my face from the black bits I’d rubbed into my eyes, I washed it all off. I grabbed up my bag and headed to school. Where I would be seen as “that new boy, the one with pink-eye”. So NOT cool.
I didn’t see that coming! My PJ was always a different duck. Always serious; quietly evaluating. He has always looked at life from a different viewpoint. I counted on him for this. When he was really little we were on a road-trip (were there ever two more exciting words?) and I discovered that he had swallowed a piece of gum. Now, I don’t adhere to the old wives tales of people living for decades with gum in their bellies, but still, the mom thing roared it’s ugly head. I said “being your mom and all, I feel like I should let you know that it’s really not a good idea to swallow your gum”. Now, isn’t that the most reasonable and motherly thing I could have said? Wasn’t that clear without being paranoid? And you know what he replied? He said “It’s okay mom. I already know all about the dangers of swallowing gum. Don’t worry, I don’t even have hair on my butt yet”. I had to pull over.
That kind of stuff I’m used to. What I was not prepared for, is the other stuff. The “I’m one of the guys” stuff. It’s not like “that’s what she said” is new. I just wasn’t prepared for my quirky, little-old-man in a fedora to become the middle school version of cool.
I should have seen it coming. The baby, the last of four, was taking it all in. All this time he was studying, learning. And now he’s another “That’s what she said”. Just like the rest of them. Ugh! Why?