Well damnit, I’m still tired and crabby. Even after spending the morning scouring the internet and reading my favorite blogs, I’m not cheered up. Seems like everyone is wallowing in a little funk. So I’m guessing maybe you need a little pick me up, too. That’s why I’ll tell you a little something that always makes me happy.
I don’t remember how old I was, but I’d guess I was somewhere in my early teens. Puberty had not been kind to me. I grew almost six inches in one summer, requiring me to wear knee braces for most any sporting activity. I was even less coordinated than I am now. (And for those of you I kept waiting Saturday morning due to my unfortunate tumble down a flight of stairs, you know that’s saying something.) Awkward would be a kind word to describe pubescent Elly.
I don’t quite remember the circumstances either. Aunt Sharon was visiting, perhaps Aunt Shirley was as well. I seem to recall Mom and her sister(s) were gathered in my dad’s study, though he was uncharacteristically absent. I think he was in the bedroom next door.
I suspect I solicited their advice on my appearance, searching for ways to feel a little less awkward. The Magnificent Cluckers were happy to oblige. As is the way with adults and children, I quickly ceased to be a part of the conversation and more of a spectator.
“Perhaps she could change her glasses, find something with a thinner frame.”
“Perhaps she should grow out her bangs.”
“But the scar?”
“It’s hardly noticeable now. Those bangs just chop her face in half.”
“Those shorts aren’t terribly flattering, has she tried a skirt instead? Maybe something a-line?”
“Maybe a little more makeup? With those glasses, you can hardly see her eyes.”
I stood there, overwhelmed – not insulted exactly, but a ball of confused pubescent hormones trying to absorb the harsh wisdom of the strong, confident women I loved and respected, grappling with how I saw myself and how others saw me.
…and then there was Dad.
He suddenly appeared in the room beside me, scowling. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen my father truly mad. This was one of them.
Makes me smile to this day? Yes.
He threw an arm around my shoulders and turned me towards the door. “She’s perfect,” is all he said as we left the room.
He walked me to the kitchen, grabbed a glass of water, and headed back to whatever project he had been working on. We never spoke of it again. But to this day, when I’m nervous about meeting new people, scared to speak in front of a group, or just generally feeling insecure, I think to myself, “She’s perfect,” and I dig right in.