I'm not, as my daughter would say, "a super girly-girl." Oh, I like a pretty skirt just fine; I wear makeup most days; I even sometimes use various hair care gadgets. But my general style would best be described as practical and casual. I wear a lot of plain T-shirts, jeans that cost less than dinner for two at Chili's. My prime consideration when shoe shopping is comfort, and even most of my bras are good old serviceable nude.
But now and again, it's fun to get a little glam, step out of my plain Jane rut, and go fancy.
My mother-in-law isn't a girly-girl either, but she's definitely a woman who knows how to accessorize. I don't think I've once seen her nails bare--fingers or toes. I can't recall ever seeing her without a necklace. It's rare for even her ears to be unadorned.
Her accessories are always gorgeous, too. Her real jewels are stunning, and her costume pieces chunky and wonderful. I think everyone who knows her must have had the same moment I have many times over: seeing a bracelet or earrings at a shop or a festival and immediately knowing it should belong to her. My daughter has already had this happen, a lot. "That is so Grandma!" she'll say. "We should get it for her!" She's inevitably right, and if the price is too (a lot of the stuff that is "so Grandma" costs more than my annual mortgage), and a gift-giving event is imminent, we're set.
Said mother-in-law doesn't necessarily wait for a gift-giving occasion to treat me, however. The other day she invited my daughter and me to join her at the salon she frequents for manis and pedis all around. The ten-year-old worked herself into a flurry of anticipation, and I looked forward to it, too. It's summer, I thought. Maybe I'd go really crazy and go for something a bit bolder than the pale pink I usually brush on if I bother.
I got an elegant but still serviceable French on my hands. I did spring for--well, Nancy sprang for ("It's your inheritance and I'll spend it if I want!") the new I-don't-remember-what-it's-called super-durable insta-dry polish-stuff. I'm interested to see how long it lasts. My own usual on-clearance-at-Target polish has a pretty short life span, at least in the shine department.
But then came toe time. First, they talked me into a brilliant pink, like the color of some roses you have to stop and stare at. "Would you like flowers?" the manicurist asked. Flowers?! On my toes! What's next, music music wherever I go? My daughter was already getting fat daisies on all of her great digits, had planned them from the moment she heard about the outing, but me? Flowers?
What the hell!
It's not that I don't like a pretty skirt. It's not that I eschew makeup, or fail to appreciate a lovely necklace. It's not that I'm anti-girly, or even un-girly. It's just outside my box.
Not long ago agent Janet Reid linked her blog to a graphic flash fiction piece (that's the best way I can think to describe it) that made me nearly cry. It told the life story of an artist--and though it was an illustrator, it could have been a sculptor or a writer or anything--finding her vision over and over when she dared beyond the expected. Stepped outside of what she knew, of what she did. Got brave enough to be a little more--not more than she was, but beyond the rigidity of how and what she thought about herself.
So, I got flowers. And honestly? I love 'em.