I just spent twenty minutes outside talking to my neighbor, a lovely and pleasant elderly lady whom I chat with only about three times a year, when she happens to stroll through her yard while I'm outside raking leaves or pulling weeds or reattaching the drain pipes that I toss aside and out of the way while I'm mowing my lawn (the latter being what I was doing when I ran into her tonight). And after twenty minutes face to face with her, I came inside and looked in the mirror and shook my head in shame that anyone had seen me in that state up close and personal. Having just worked up a sweat mowing my lawn, my ponytailed hair was plastered tight against my head. The remains of today's eyeliner had settled itself into speckled, round gray shadows beneath my eyes. And my outfit? I was wearing the paint-stained t-shirt and mid-90s cargo pants that have been my official painting clothes since I bought this house. The spatters of color on my legs and torso serve as sort of a bare-bones tour of my home's palette. "This is my living room," I could say, pointing to my left boob. "And over here's my kitchen," my right leg says. "Down here you can see my bedroom, my computer room, oh, and over here, the brand-new avocado green of my basement." In short, I looked a mess.
One Saturday last summer, I walked past my neighbor to the other side (you know, the guy I've code-named "Reed") on my way off to a date. He was crouched down feeding the fish in his backyard pond, and when he saw me, he did a quick "Whoot-whoo" whistle and said, "Lookin' good!"
At the time, I was entirely caught off guard, wondering, "Do I really look any different from usual??" I mean, yes, I was off to a date, so I maybe tried at least a little harder, but I've accepted by now that the only visible difference between the Me that takes an hour to put together and the Me that takes 10 minutes is the difference between mascara and no mascara. It doesn't matter what I pretend to do to my hair; to the untrained (i.e., not mine) eyes, it looks the same. Yep, mascara is the only real difference between Date Me and Workday Me. So what the hell was Reed whistling for?
And then I remembered. Reed sees me only when I'm doing yard work. I can probably count on three fingers the number of times he's seen me at close range when I've showered, or when I'm wearing anything I might consider proper clothes. Given what I look like after a couple hours of yard work, I had nowhere to go but up in his eyes.
I was thinking about this as I showered and changed tonight, wondering if, were my neighbors to see me properly "done up" more often, there might suddenly be offers of nice single friends or cute grandsons I should meet. And then I went outside to turn off my lawn sprinkler, hair up, no makeup, black ballet flats that happened to be right by my door ever-so-sportily paired with my striped pajama pants and a t-shirt. And not just any t-shirt, but the most comfortable but also most ridiculous t-shirt I own--an impossibly soft blue shirt that an ex-boyfriend brought me back from a business trip in Georgia. It features a picture of a pig with the slogan "Put some pork on your fork." Klassy. Oh, and did I mention no bra? Extra klassy, obviously. But I was just running outside for a second. No one would see me, right? Yeah. No one except Reed AND my elderly neighbor AND my elderly neighbor's visiting son. Sigh.
I may be one incident away from being deemed the devil-may-care crazy spinster lady on the block. Maybe it's time to invest in a privacy fence.
* (Trampoline reference is here, if you're not the type to memorize every little thing I ever write.)