Friday, February 08, 2008

you look happy to see me!

what do you think is the first thing they'll say when they see each other for the first time since last summer?

i had dinner on friday night with a friend i haven't seen in ages. we talked about how long it's been for about 10 minutes, trying to place when we remember seeing each other last along some imaginary timeline stretching between our candlelit glasses of sangria (my glass of sangria, her glass of soda and lime; she's off the sauce for Lent, sweet girl).

i had a great time catching up with her. s is a hip New York woman who is successful in the entertainment industry, wears funky glasses and dines at swanky restaurants but who also observes Lent, buys her 4-year old niece ruby red slippers for her birthday and sends thank you notes. she's grounded, and i adore her.

on the train ride home, as i sat recalling our visit, i was struck by something:

she never once commented on my appearance, and i never once commented on hers THE ENTIRE NIGHT.

do you know how remarkably refreshing and rare it is to spend an entire evening with someone (a female particularly) and not a single comment is made about the other's appearance?


i mean absolutely nothing. not even an obligatory:

"you look great!

"well you do too!"


"hi! so great to see you! god it's been so long!"

then we talked about everything BUT. just two girls sitting around chatting about their lives over chorizo and patatas bravas.

not to say it isn't nice and wonderful and esteem-building for someone to sincerely, positively comment on how i look from time to time or for me to say the same about someone else, but i hate the obligatory you-look-fabulous chatter that we females especially feel so compelled to engage in. we frequently don't really mean it, and sometimes (many times) a person's appearance doesn't speak an ounce of truth about what's really going on underneath.

how about "it's so great to see you! how ya doing?"?

great to see YOU. the person. the being. not your highlights, or your yoga booty, or your flat abs, or your size 4 True Religion jeans. YOU are not those things, and neither am i. (nor am i the scary hair-of-steel that grows out of the mole on my upper lip or the zits on my chin or the ain't-done-yoga-in-months-booty, thank god).

i realize that not everyone feels this way. some people don't care, don't notice. i know a lot of my irritation around this stems from a childhood of always feeling like i had to look prettier and thinner in order to earn a joyful exclamation upon my return after having been away.

"oh." their faces usually seemed to say. "you're not thinner than you were than before you left for school this morning."

and god forbid if i came back heavier; like i did after the first semester of my freshmen year in college. i think my dad may have been ever so slightly more ashamed if i'd come back pregnant, but i'm not so sure. at least then he would have known i was operating as a heterosexual. i mean, a liberal daughter he could take. a FAT liberal daughter?

next stop? LESBO!

well, now i'm just being bitter.


i don't know. juuuuust something to think about the next time you see that friend you haven't seen in ages. it's not about one another's presence that matters, right? but about being in one another's presence. so say something that means something.


Chocolate Thistle said...

I really get what you're saying here. I gained about 20lb when I went off to uni, but afterwards started running and lost most of it. One of my school friends says "you've lost weight!" every time she sees me. I haven't. I haven't budged weight or dress size for at least a year. But she seems to think this is what I need to hear. What can you do?

LG said...

Great post! Your comment about your dad noting your weight sounds like mine...ho hum.

It IS great to have girlfriends who care more about the "real you" than about whether your sunglasses are real designer ones!