Monday, September 24, 2012

We Shall Overcome (the Awkwardness of Childhood)

I’ve received a lot of compliments in my lifetime. I’m not bragging; I’m just stating a truth. We all receive a lot of compliments as we go through life.

But have you ever received a compliment that is just…out of the norm? Not something you, or anyone else, are typically complimented on.

You know, something like:

“You have really nice eyebrows. They’re like a model’s.”

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

The first time I received this compliment, I was about 16. It was at a Mary Kay party that was filled with middle-aged women from my church. I think I was the only one there under the age of 40. The host told everyone that I had perfect, model eyebrows. Everyone turned and nodded in agreement. I thought it was just because I still had my youth.

Shortly after that, one of my close friends complimented me on them. We were talking during lunch, and she stops mid-conversation and says, “I really like your eyebrows, by the way.”

Since then I’ve had even more friends mention the modelness of my eyebrows. And it's still just as awkward as the first time.

I was reminded of the awkwardness of this compliment a few weeks ago when my dermatologist and her assistant both said I had eyebrows like a model. But it wasn’t just a quick, “You have nice eyebrows.” It was a minute-long discussion about my eyebrows. And I’m just sitting there, not knowing what to say while they look at and talk about me.

I still don't quite understand the fascination with my eyebrows. However, what I do know is that my eyebrows didn’t use to look good. In fact, they were horrible. Like, I want to destroy every picture of my sixth and seventh grade self. Yes, they were that bad.

Let me explain. 

As I approached my teenager years, I became more aware of those hairs that were making me look like Frida. ("If Brooke Shields married Groucho Marx, their child would have your eyebrows!") My three older sisters no longer lived at home, so I looked to my mother for inspiration.

Well, my mother has always had…interesting eyebrows. I know that now. I’m sure they fit in just fine in the 70s, but now they just look like an upside down Nike swoosh. My 13-year-old self didn’t think to ask for help in shaping her eyebrows or consulting her sisters; I was too independent for that. So my mother’s eyebrows it was.

May you never see a picture of me in sixth or seventh grade.

I was the epitome of an awkward middle schooler: long straggly hair, braces, and bad eyebrows.

Luckily, my sisters intervened and made me grow them out. And then my sister shaped them wrong. So I had to grow them out again and let my other sister do them.

But now I have eyebrows on par with Christie Brinkley, Tyra Banks, and Heidi Klum!

Moral of the story: You can overcome anything! Including bad eyebrows! Also, everyone’s awkward in middle school. It’s a rite of passage.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Next Time, I'll Put a Ring on It

Not too long ago, I went to a movie by myself. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but for some reason, attending a movie seemed less like an independent thing to do and more like a loser thing to do. I mean, I see those middle-aged men who are sitting alone with their jumbo popcorn and drink in the theater. (And why are there never women sitting alone?) Plus, I live in an area that is highly populated with college kids, some of which I still know. College kids who are usually around my age and go to movies with not one or two friends, but a whole group. Do you understand the social risk that is associated with going to the movie theater alone?

But after not finding anyone nerdy/stupid enough to pay to see the worst movie ever made, I decided that it was my chance to embrace my lonerism and venture into a world that few people dare to go.

The theater was rather full, so I chose a seat in the back row, on the end. There was a guy, who was easily in his 30s, sitting a seat away, also alone. (I later found out that he had chosen not to sit with the people he came with.) I didn’t pursue a conversation with him when he tried to start one because I just wanted to watch the movie and be otherwise invisible.

Somehow, between the beginning of the movie and its end, that seat between us disappeared (no, he wasn't hitting on me; we got an extra person in the row). And then I inadvertently told him that I was married.

I admit that I have always fantasized about faking being engaged/married in order to avoid any unwanted advances—which would be just about any advances—but those fantasies usually involved a fake ring and walking around BYU campus.

However, at the end of the movie, he turned to me as I was packing up and tried to make small talk.

Guy: Hi, I’m Brandon.* What’s your name?

Me: Hi, I’m Mary.  *standing to leave*

Guy: Are you Mary?

Me: Yes. (Wait, didn't I just say that?)

Guy: Oh, that’s really nice.

At least that’s what I thought he asked. But as I walked away, it dawned on me. He wasn’t confirming my name. He was confirming my relationship status.

He was confirming it in the boldest, most direct way possible: “Are you married?”

Sorry, man, I’m really not married. But I’m also really not interested. I’m sorry I lied to you.

However, I think it’s hilarious that I did.

*This is definitely not his real name. I forget his name. I forgot it two seconds after he told me. That’s how uninterested I was.