When you put your hair in a ponytail and leave your house wearing gym clothes, you can pass as health conscious. You might even pass as productive if you can really sell the idea that you went running. Running? Darn it, I’m not sweaty and I’m wearing flip flops…
Yoga, I meant I did TONS of Yoga this morning. That’s it. Hours of lengthening and posture and core work and balancing my chi; I also ate granola. This is the story I peddle when I didn’t have time to take a shower or color coordinate. It’s a socially acceptable middle ground that can make skipping showers seem upper crust when paired with an iPhone or a Louis Vuitton accessory. Instead of being the person who desperately needs to re-read every book by Steven Covey, you are perceived as the person with time to take extra special care of yourself…positive spin!
I had all of that going for me when I pulled up to Barnes & Noble, plus a French manicure…impressive. I walked toward the café door which, upon closer inspection, was locked. A woman (let’s call her Jan) and her two children came up beside me, the children making audible sighs of disappointment. As we all walked to the main door, which was open, Jan told her children not to pout because, “Santa sees everything…” it turns out the elves are everywhere. I told Jan I was going to quote her the next time my own son pouted in a store and laughed as we walked inside.
“Oh my god, you’re just like me! I can tell! Our kids should totally have a play date.”
Based on what? Well, that’s a leap I thought, but an extremely kind one, so thanks. I ordered my drink at the café, ready to work. Another woman (let’s call her Jen) stood in line behind me, rolling her eyes at Jan.
“I hate it when people bring their kids places like this. Ugh! I am so glad my daughter is at school! I hope she leaves soon, don’t you?”
“I spoke with her outside, they were sweet and I think she has it under control. They have already been told that Santa is watching.” I said and smiled.
“Oh I tried to convince my daughter that Santa isn’t real this morning on the way to school. I hate that people push fairy tales on their children. Don’t you hate that?”
GASP…was the comment meant to be rhetorical? No, I actually don’t hate that. I love fiction, I love Aesop, I love all things Grimm…somehow this woman had pegged me as her type, too. My appearance had given her the impression that we shared a common philosophical thread, or something.
“I have a lot of friends that feel that way about Santa, but I personally will continue the charade until my son questions it.”
“Well, yeah. But you know how it is when you grow up in a really strict Christian household and the holidays are all about verse not glitter.”
Hmm…I blame this assumption on my rhinestone cross earrings. The Sunday sermons at the church I go to are a pseudo rock concert at least half the time…and I’m relatively certain that when the creator brought me to life he put glitter in my veins.
“I can only imagine.”
The barista finished all three of our drinks at the same time. We exchanged smiles at the counter and retreated to our individual spaces, me in the middle of the café and the other two women on opposite ends. I opened my book and was promptly questioned about my line of work, my interests, my son, my origins, my marital status and so on. Both women spoke to me in competing turns, never even acknowledging each other. I liked them both.
Our conversation carried us into rogue territory, each of them staking claim to opposing ideals. Jan’s two children were nine months apart and the youngest of what was actually a clan seven children strong. Her children ranged from age 4 to age 20 and she was 34 years old herself. An accidental pregnancy while just a high school freshman had turned her life into an unlikely love story. She was now a proud partner in a challenging but stable 16 year marriage.
I asked if she was Mormon or Catholic, she said her only religion to date was, “exercise.” And, my outfit had thus given her reason to stake a claim to me.
Jen conversely, would not be having any more children as one was quite enough. She was focused on tackling the corporate ladder. She had an unquenchable thirst for a C level coffee pot. She was tenacious and wonderful. Over the course of an hour they discussed a variety of intimate things, with me but not with each other.
I left seeing that hour as a personal failure. Despite the fact that all three of us were born over a 5 year time span, live in the same town, have children the exact same age, could be defined with the same general descriptors in terms of height and probably shoe size, they left seeing no similarities in each other whatsoever.
Although we came from different backgrounds, religions, philosophies, and states of mind, all three of us had decided the place we would most like to be on a Tuesday morning was the Barnes and Noble café sipping a latte and reading a good book.
This picture is from one of the days we really did go running…extremely rare.
Shortly thereafter an employee said, “What are you doing here today, working or studying?”
Before I had time to answer she said, “Not that I care, I was just wondering because you’ve been here for an hour already not really doing anything.”
I asked her if she knew where any outlets were, she replied, “There are a few in the music section down low, but you would have to be the sort of person that sat on the floor while everyone walked around and stuff. Pretty weird; you don’t look like that sort of person. Trust me, you aren’t that sort of weird person.”
Sadly, I am that weird; I sat down, plugged in and typed.