For the better part of the last 50 years, I’ve longed be the kind of girl who – when you’re on a guy’s arm – triggers that stupid smile that silently brags, “Look at lucky me.” You know … eye candy. Or as my grandfather’s generation said, “a real dish.”
Unfortunately, I’m a giant bowl of Tuna Helper in a land of beef sauvignon (BS!).
“Why God,” I’ve asked. “Why do some women get to be rich and beautiful and live the good life, while others think about Jerry-rigging their Dysons for do-it-yourself liposuction?”
Not once in the last 35 years has a guy offered to buy me a drink in a bar … even a relatively dark bar … even at 2 a.m., when a woman with cat whisker implants starts looking good. I’m not even talking about the expensive drinks with the umbrellas. I never got offered a Tab.
When Shirley MacLaine went out on a limb, writing about her past lives, I felt no need to explore my own. I’ve always known: I was a drop dead gorgeous, rich and nasty slut who treated men like gum on my shoe, and I’m paying for it now. Karma’s a bitch and so was I. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why one person could possibly be cursed with so many physical flaws.
I was marked from the minute I came out at 10 pounds with 11 toes, looking more like a hairy leg of lamb than the Gerber baby. It’s been downhill ever since. I was 19 when hair started sprouting where I didn’t want it and 31 when it stopped growing in thick on the crown of my head. Now I’ve hit middle age and my eyebrows are going rogue. Every night, my husband goes to bed petrified he’s going to wake up next to Andy Rooney.
In truth, I’m married to a gem. Should my brows ever start spreading across our bed like the tentacles of Audrey 2, he’d just hit the hay with protective gear to avoid strangulation. Surely he needs Lasik, because he actually tells me I don’t need makeup – and he means it. I wasn’t skinny when we got married 20 years ago, and he’s loved me at every weight since. It’s me succumbing to societal pressure.
Growing up in an era where thin, leggy blondes were revered on the cover of every magazine, I’ve spent a good deal of my life pondering where someone like me can go to be treated with the same deference. The opposite sex always seems to drool over size 2 California girls and bombshell Swedes named “Uma”– striking beauties with tiny waists and melon-sized knockers who can talk dirty with an accent.
I’ve always wondered if there’s a place where a gal like me could go and be considered wonderfully exotic … where Kate Upton and Angelina Jolie are passé and they worship short, stocky women with New York accents and Jewish hand gestures … somewhere over the rainbow, where men like George Clooney would flock to my four chins like vultures to a dead possum.
“Say it again, Parri,” George would say, caught under the spell of my Rubenesque charm. “Say cawfee. Say tawfee. Say oy gevult.”
Then he’d lovingly pinch my muffin top and give me a look that could melt the chocolate off a Dairy Queen Dipped Cone.
Hey, a girl can dream.
Unfortunately, the real me has had a life-long battle with weight, Flintstonian fingers and feet that hearken to Picasso’s Neoclassical Period (think “Three Women at the Spring”), and a rear-end with enough room for a family of four to play Parcheesi. My feet are so wide, I can scuba without fins, so I’ve never owned a pair of pretty shoes. They don’t come in my size. I was the 12-year-old kid with the Naturalizer pumps.
Even my body chemistry is off. Only one perfume in a hundred retains its delicate notes when seductively dabbed behind my ears. I wasn’t even aware I was stinking up the planet until I got married. My husband has always thought our friend Lori smells great. Equipped with the name of her designer perfume, we made a special trip to a Nordstrom, so I could try a spritz.
“What do you think?” I asked excitedly.
“You smell like Raid,” he said.
And so it was at every perfume counter in every store. Fruity scents work, but honestly, what man brags, “My wife smells like a mango?”
For years, I’ve tried to improve on what God gave me. My quest for outer beauty has led me to endocrinologists, dermatologists, bookstores, weight loss centers, makeup counters, wig shops and pricy salons. I’ve been on every diet from Weight Watchers, L.A. Weight Loss and the Stillman Water Diet to Jenny Craig, meal replacement shakes and The Zone. I’ve shaved, I’ve bleached, I’ve plucked and I’ve waxed. And sometimes I wonder if there’s a certain age when I’ll just be able to quit fighting with my body and enjoy being me. Am I still going to be dieting at 90? Or at that point can I get a frequent flyer card for Five Guys, braid my chin hairs and call it a day?
So here I am, the big 5-0, wondering if it’s simply my God-given purpose to make people laugh. Maybe I wouldn’t be me if I looked like Victoria’s Secret model. As I like to remind my husband, “Looks fade, but funny is forever!” Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and just cultivate my inner beauty.
Who am I kidding? On a trip to New York last year, I saw a homeless lady warming herself on a subway grate, applying a Lancôme lipstick as she glanced into a compact. You’d think when you’re wearing two different colored socks, having sensual lips wouldn’t be a big priority. How can I give up on myself, when people worse off than me still hang onto the dream?
So, for now, the quest goes on.
Anybody know where I can get a good deal on a used Epilady?