Not since my senior prom have I had this much cosmetic attention.
Today, I had a pedicure ("Japanese Rose Garden"). And a manicure. ("Clear". There is never any point to painting my fingernails in colors, since it wouldn't last through a single preparation of chicken Vesuvio.)
I had my eyebrows dyed, too, so that they are now visible without a blacklight. And as the piece de resistance, I got my hair cut. ("Gwyneth Paltrow!" exclaimed my husband.)
The reason for all the fuss? Monday morning I fly out to the cicada-ridden East Coast of the United States for the week of my son's graduation from college (magna cum laude, thank you). The events include various ceremonies and receptions, as well as a formal ball (!) on Friday night. Which will probably translate into a lot of standing around, trying not to get too drunk. But I will look fabulous doing it. Oh, yes. I will. Or at least as fabulous as I can without surgical intervention.
And no sensible shoes. I am not walking. Anywhere.
I can say, without reservation, that I deserve this little lapse of fiscal accountability. Because for a major part of the last 20 years, I have been taking care of old and/or sick people. And I have earned a respite.
My father-in-law, my husband's maiden aunt, my son and now my mother, plus a two-year stint as a Certified Activities Director in a hospital. Had I known that life was going to proffer me these opportunities, I would have studied nursing, although "nurse" was definitely last on my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up, there being no Disney Princess who got her start in nursing.
But life had other ideas. It often does. And life doesn't bother to ask you if you're "feeling it". Which, for the most part, I was not.
This is why I haven't written anything lately on what it's like to be an underpaid and undervalued employee for a company that sucks. Or on taking the train home at night with the lovebugs returning from "Jersey Boys" (this year it's "Oklahoma", thank God), or a Cubs game.
Being in the constant company of old and/or sick people tends not to be much fun. As a result, there is often much crankiness that happens on both sides of the caregiving, requiring no small amount of enlightened thinking on the part of the caregiver, the caregive-ee being more or less exempt. I've never been long on enlightened thinking, so it's been a bit of a bumpy road at times. But I've learned a few things from my experiences over the years, such as:
- Get over your childhood trauma. Fast.
- Be ready for the role-reversal. And the accompanying resentment;
- Plan on gaining 10 lbs. Your free-time will be spent too emotionally exhausted to do anything not totally self-indulgent. Size up. This is no time for discipline;
- Go out every chance you get. My current situation (mom) is within a block of two quality resale stores. Can I get an "amen"?
- Be prepared to take the blame. For everything. The Miami Heat's lack of bonhomie, even;
- Don't try to make them happy. You won't. They don't feel good. They're not happy;
- Bribe your friends to put up with you. Because you need them, a lot. Because you'll be complaining. A lot;
- Learn to love television. Even Fox News. You have the right to go drink quietly in the corner during Hallmark Made-for-TV movies and episodes of "Katie";
- Be flexible when it comes to personal grooming. Theirs. Not yours;
- Learn to be quiet. Sometimes it's your best defense.
I will be taking next week off. Do not forsake me. On Monday, I fly east and spend two glorious days by myself with a book, a bottle of wine, and a smoking section. On Wednesday, my husband and daughter will come in by train, and together we will throw ourselves into a social whirl as Gatsby-esque as we are ever likely to encounter in this lifetime. I am armed and ready to partake in the frivolity with my manicure, pedicure, eyebrows, Gwyneth Paltrow's hair, nice dresses, and cute shoes. I will also be carrying a gorgeous Furla bag I found in a thrift store yesterday. For 20 bucks.
And that, my friends, is as good as it gets.