I generally need little help embarrassing myself. More often than not, my mouth has a mind of its own. My opinions believe in free expression. At any given moment I may break a heel, fall on the floor for no apparent reason or have a business conversation with spinach in my teeth. That’s why real women shouldn’t eat salad. Chocolate leaves no evidence.
This proclivity paired with technology spells downfall for those of us unable to text on an iphone as it does not respond to tapping fingernails. Handing it off to a child we remark, “This piece of crap doesn’t work,” and happily go back to an ancient flip phone which never fails us. My technological mishaps are more often than not emails sent to the wrong recipient, private messages made public and not being able to extricate the phone from my purse before it ceases its infernal ringing. facebook is the exception. facebook pulls me in and threatens to wile away hours of my life leaving me bleary eyed and spent at two am. One might expect a mistake or two non?
Our family did not always live on the surface of the sun. We spent many years in the tundra of Minnesota, a state of frozen land and attitude. I lived a constant fish out of water status; the proverbial square peg. Girls from Chicago are loud, mouthy, sarcastic and sometimes caustic. Chicagoans rarely make fashion choices based exclusively on weather and can actually drive cars without four wheel drive. Minnesotans are not generally appreciative of opinions, gorgeous coats not made of down or halloween costumes not fitted over snowsuits. To say I was not a match for life in the hinterland is an understatement. I never fit. I found constant talk of weather, keeping private life private and potatoes with every meal difficult. Not to mention venison and lutefisk passing as food. The Norwegian and The Chickens–loved it. It is a vast land that embraces to its bosom those born to it. It’s only unkindness comes to interlopers.
I admit to ruffling a Minnesota feather or two. As a young mother with more house, money and time than sense, I actively participated in the neighborhood gossip. Snark was alive and well in our little Hamlet. Young mothers should never be given mini mansions and country club memberships. They should stick to perfecting golf swings and tennis backhands. Comparison, the game played most in our little neighborhood, produces neither winners nor losers. It’s only victor is hurt feelings. I gave as good as I got. There was a certain group of dolls; so much “cooler” than me. The Gossip Girls. They were fun, acclimated to the Minnesota way of life and as friendly as the Eastern Block. It became my mission to infiltrate their group and it proved my downfall.
For the first time, I cared deeply about party exclusion, slights to my children and less about creating a beautiful life, family and home. I focused on who had better drapes, a more manicured lawn and better vacations; and less on writing, self reflection and minding my own business. The good news was I learned skills. I learned to dress to intimidate, create a marriage everyone envies and arrange tupperware according to size and shape. I did it for the wrong reasons, but those tupperware skills continue to serve me well to this day.
A packed Durango ala The Beverly Hillbillies with Hamlet in the rear view gave me intense pleasure. I was positively giddy to leave. Lessons learned. Since then, the only person I openly slam is me.
Until yesterday. Middle Chicken and I are reminiscing about her childhood and the old neighborhood children. So and so had a baby. This one got married. Oooh let’s check on some of the others. Middle Chicken moves on to something important and I move to facebook stalking. I travel to my Gossip Girls from the day. One is on facebook; two others not so much. But surely their children are. I follow the friendship trails and hit on one doll’s daughter. I’m not all that interested in the daughter. What I’m secretly hoping for is pics of her mom. And that she’s frumpy; not the lithe beauty she was with tennis legs, a masterful talent for decorating and exquisite culinary skills; talents I lack now as well as then. I do not find a photo of said mom. I move along to the other Gossip Girls and find their successes, divorces, the good and the bad of all of us.
Hours later, “ding.” facebook message. A ding from phone, ipad or facebook excites me. I wonder who wants to tell me something of utmost importance. Instead, this ding is a friend acceptance and message from a Gossip Girl’s daughter. Whaaa? The brain races. In my technological expertise and stalking, I hit friend request to the daughter of one of the Gossip Girls. Good move. Who says you can stalk in private, hmmm?
Gossip Girl’s daughter says “Hi. I was so sorry to hear about The Norwegian. I hope you are all well.” What she really wanted to say was: “Good God you and my mom hate each other. Why the hell did you friend request me?”
I pace about a bit. And sweat. Damn menopause. I write, “Hello Doll. We were just talking about our little town and we thought of you and your sisters. Hope you and your parents are well.” And as my heart sinks at my foolishness and her no doubt report of my silliness to her mother, I think how small I must look. Embarrassment is mine. Again. It’s a gift.
I imagine the technological thread. Gossip Girl daughter goes first to her sisters, then her mom. Mom goes to the Gossip Girls and the circle is complete. We are back to fifteen years ago and our bad behavior. At least I am. Ashamed? A little. Embarrassed that I inadvertently have stirred the pot? A lot.
And then I remember it is midsummer. Fall will be here soon. I am headed into a season of balmy breezes, eating dinner outside, dresses with cute little sweaters, no hose and perfectly paired pumps. Occasionally I may need a Pashmina if the breeze is chilly. And the Gossip Girls? Well, what the Gossip Girls have to look forward to is a Minnesota winter. Advantage me.