40 Going on 14

Horrible hooves

You may say otherwise, but it’s true. I’m a shallow person with the emotional IQ of a middle schooler. Since I can’t go to confession, I am going to use the blogosphere to admit my childish behavior.

The feet you see in the photograph above were ‘cured and painted with the new OPI shade “Red Lights Ahead … Where?” on Sunday.  When I arrived at the nail salon, I was escorted to the pedicure chairs and seated next to a very pretty girl who looked roughly my age. She was dressed in expensive workout clothes that revealed her flawless physique, and it was obvious to me that she had been one of  the popular girls  in her youth. In other words, the tell-tale scent of Eau de Bitchay radiated from her pores.

She was choosing between two pepto bismol pink shades. At first glance, both were hideous, but the idea that the pretty, popular girl liked them made me question my initial assessment. Should I be getting pepto pink too? Was THAT where I’d gone wrong in life?! Would it look creepy and weird if I too just “happened” to be getting that color? Just then my nail lady stabbed my badly picked pinky toe cuticle and I winced in painful silence. I certainly didn’t need Popular Girl glancing over and seeing the gruesome self-inflicted wound. Surely she had never experienced a day of malaise or panic in her whole popular life, and thus, had no malaise- or panic-sparked habits to hide.  I bet her parents bought her a car when she turned 17, and I bet she had no trouble taper-rolling her stonewashed jea…

I slapped myself mentally. For the love of god you freak, you’re turning 40 in two weeks. You’re not sitting at lunch tables in the multi-purpose room anymore! 

But in a way, I will always be sitting at the lunch tables in the multi-purpose room.

In walked a very peppy, tall and extremely large-boned girl with a strong mid-western accent and an exceptionally loud voice, yapping on her cell phone. She sat down next to Popular Girl and me.  Excerpts from the conversation she was having:

Debbie, he invited you to SEDER. Of course you have to try gefilte fish! He invited you to SEDER! [For those unfamiliar with the term “seder,” please see Wikipedia. For those unfamiliar with “gefilte fish,” please consider yourselves fortunate. Or read about its royal grossness here.]

Do I like gefilte fish? I mean it’s not my FAVORITE thing but I’ll eat it. 

Debbie! You NEED to eat more foods. You can’t eat pasta all the time. No one will marry you if you don’t eat more sophisticated things.

You tried it?! You tried GEFILTE FISH?  Oh Debbie I am just so proud of you! I am SO proud of you! I mean he invited you to SEDER, of course you had to.

Now, it’s hard to imagine that anyone seeking a  little R&R wouldn’t find this conversation a smidge grating. I certainly wanted to smack Debbie’s friend upside her head and possibly drown her in the lavender-scented water. But at some point during almost every pedicure I’ve had, someone in the salon has taken or made an audible cell phone call.  If you want complete and utter silence, you go to a  real spa — not the neighborhood nail joint. It’s annoying, but it’s something I accept. Additionally, Debbie’s friend was so awkward and clueless that I felt a little sorry for her. She was probably a lot nicer than Popular Girl in middle school — she was probably the kind of person who would have sat at MY lunch table.

Popular Girl was not taking it as calmly as I was. I could hear her repeatedly saying “Uch” with the kind of absolute repulsion I imagined all the SPIFFY High cheerleaders felt for me. Then she mixed in a few snide comments and some seriously dirty looks, all of which went unnoticed by Debbie’s oblivious friend. Popular Girl’s nail lady told Popular Girl to sit back and relax. Popular Girl said she couldn’t possibly relax with THAT in the background.

Then Popular Girl addressed ME.

“Can you believe this?”

I was paralyzed. What should I say?! What would make me sound cool?! Or wait…Shouldn’t I stand up for Debbie’s friend? Didn’t all former looz-airs have an obligation to support one another?

Maybe, but fuck it. I had a chance to get in.

I sold her out and said to Popular Girl, loudly, “It is SO annoying.”

I guess that was an acceptable repsonse, because Popular Girl offered me her magazines as she got up. And for a fleeting second I felt like it was 1989 and I’d been invited to the cool kids’ party. Then I felt bad about shafting Debbie’s friend. Then Popular Girl’s phone rang. It was her boyfriend or husband and she spoke to him at the top of her lungs, in a tone so mean I didn’t understand why any man would stay with her. I looked to my right and saw Debbie’s friend now quietly reading her book, not rolling her eyes, not cursing under her breath.  I wanted to ask her what she was reading and/or pet her sympathetically.

But I didn’t. I let my nail lady paint my toes a bright coral Jan didn’t approve of and hoped I would get to dry next to Popular Girl.

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40 Going on 14

5 thoughts on “40 Going on 14

  1. I remember those girls from high school. In retrospect, popular girls in an economically-depressed midwestern community is a pretty humorous concept. But they existed with their real Keds and all (and seemingly effortless tight-rolled stone-washed…)

    I heart pedicures, people-watching, and eavesdropping…not necessarily in that order.

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