Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Life Menu

I stopped in at Whoorl's today to check in and see how things are going now that she's well into her pregnancy with the little Whoorlito. Her photo at 27 weeks shows her to be disgustingly ethereal and gorgeous. You can still see the bones in her face and her hands, unlike my own while pregnant-- don't in the least resemble small hams. Where's the back fat bulging over the industrial-sized bra and the multiple chins? Why does Whoorl get to look like Catherine Zeta Jones after a year on the South Beach Diet? Why? Why?

I'm sorry, but where in the rule book does it say that other women are permitted to grow even more beautiful while gestating while my own pondorously amorphous self --as a pregnant person--took the task of cell division to an Olympic level and I wound up looking more like Monty Python's Mr. Creosote. Or merely a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float...depicting Mr. Creosote. Not once, not twice, but three times were satellites able to pinpoint my whereabouts on Earth from the far reaches of outer space while I was incubating our sons. Verily I say unto you: I was quite large. And lo, it was not pretty and Mr. Half was sore afraid that I would not be able to deflate back to my normal self.

The writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal used to write about something called Life Menus where each person has certain things that they are given that are gifts, such as good hair or the ability to navigate airports well or the good fortune to have never had acne as a teenager. Among those things that make them look like those lucky, lucky individuals who get to drive fast without ever getting a ticket or who live off trustfunds or whose cool parents bought them a pet monkey when they were a kid--among those gifts are the negative issues. Drawbacks like webbed toes or migraine headaches or bizarre and rash-inducing allergies to anything made out of metal or wood. Or a spastic colon.

It helps to validate the idea that no one is really perfect. Case in point: Tom Cruise.

Handsome? Yes. Rich? Sure. Talented? Marginally. BUT SWEET BUTTER ON A BISCUIT! the guy is only a few sofas away from the edge of reason, isn't he? Allow him to run around unchecked for a few more years and I'm afraid he's going to go the way of Howard Hughes when, at the height of his mental illness, he refused to touch doorknobs or bathe and he wore empty Kleenex boxes for house shoes.

Years ago I knew this woman. Our kids went to the same school and she and I worked out at the same gym. She was a fairly intelligent woman. Unlike me, she didn't seem to be too interested in ever having a career so I assumed she was thrilled to leave the house for the maid to clean while spending her days shopping with the scads of money her Dr. Husband made and going to Junior League meetings. Her life, it seemed ideal. She had the most gorgeous skin ever. Even in winter when my own untanned appendages could not be safely viewed in direct sunlight without the protection of polarized sunglasses, she had a honeyed and healthy glow. She had a great body, decent kids and fabulous clothes and were it not for the time I heard her comment on how, when reading in bed at night, she had to take special care not to turn the pages of her Bible so that they crackled and disturbed Dr. Husband while he slumbered, I thought she led an enviable life.
Until the day a friend told me that her father, also a wealthy man, had been murdered in his own house about seven years prior. That's the cosmic trade-off, you see?

The Life Menu, she is a harsh mistress.

And because she is-- it all makes sense when I consider the people I used to think had it all. No one has it all and if you envy anyone for the things about his/her life you think you want you'll also have to take the bad stuff that you can't see as part of the package. Like this one:

Good in math
Builds custom furniture
Can't dance
Oprah is a distant cousin
Has a sixth toe


Tone deaf and blind in one eye
Owns a lake house
allergic to ice cream
Wins at poker
speaks Italian

So, I weighed 200 pounds a lot at the end of my pregnancies! There's one for the menu! I also didn't inherit my Dad's fabulous olive complexion so unless I adhere to a strict schedule of monitored tanning and moisturizing, I enter the swimsuit season looking like that albino kid from the movie, "Powder"-- only not nearly as smart and I can't bend forks with my mind. So here's the rest of my list:

Quick with words/artistic
No longer a natural blonde
I ran a marathon in '98
Bad at Monopoly
Alternately cynical and gullible about life
Afraid to fly

What's on your menu?


Blogger lildb said...

Ooh! good god, woman. how do you do it? your brilliance, oy, it is a thing of wonder. I want to bask in its shininess. although I'd need to borrow your sunblock first. I share your pale-itude.

my list:

thick, curly hair
great cheekbones
blathering idiot in social settings of any kind
decent metabolism
horribly insecure
speak fluent portuguese
have yet to finish college
can really cut a rug

11:30 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

I'm Italian. I have the nose to prove it but I can't cook. I inherited pasty white Irish skin and baby boobs from Dad's anemic-looking side of the family.

I think you and I should start our own organization: Women of No Color (WONC). Think about it--we could have a bumper sticker that says "Honk if you love WONCs!"

Uh, the sense of humor, that's from the Irish side. : ) So's the creativity--lots of artists and writers in the family.

I get lost easily and have poor spatial concepts and eye-hand coordination. I'm razor sharp with words and ideas. I'm a thinker, which is one of the reason I'm prone to depression--I'm always asking THE BIG QUESTIONS. I'm moody, but I love to laugh and make others laugh--a gift.

I have good hair and a makeup artist once told me I had a perfect mouth. I like my smile. My figure is forgettable. Oh well. I didn't get stretch marks when I was pregnant--but I often look pregnant when I'm not. Sigh. I lost a sister and my parents in my 20s. I'm blessed by loyal friends.

3:48 AM  
Blogger R. Robyn said...

Whoorl does look gorgeous. I hope to emulate that one day!

4:10 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Sweet butter on a biscuit! Only one cup of coffee yet this morning and I have to come up with my life menu??

*Strong nails and hair
*petite form (not perfect, mind you!)
*loyal to friends and family
*moments of intense insecurity
*laughs too loud
*no line when I walk in somewhere and yet right after I get in a line, one forms. I know its weird but it is a phenomenon that follows me. Literally.
*Ran in 3 5K's

4:56 AM  
Blogger MoMMY said...

I always thought pregnancy was like that. You have trouble getting pregnant or you have terrible pregnancies or your delivery is less than steller. Or it goes the other way. I got pregnant at the drop of a hat (or something else), had medically great pregnancies and am unable to deliver a baby. (well, it took 4 tries to get it right. Although I was blessed with 4 wonderful boys) So there are even menus within menus. And I must add - You are brilliant.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Marcie said...

I agree with lildb, great post! I learned the life menu thing a long time ago after hearing so many times that people, who I thought had perfect marriages, were getting divorced. I also think that being pale is a blessing. I used to get a great tan in my 20's and now I have the wrinkles to prove it.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Rude Cactus said...

Have you read Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life? If not, you should.

6:05 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Well, it's not the kind of pale that fashion models can get away with. It just looks as though I don't get out much.

6:07 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

RC- I have read it and I wish I'd thought of that paricular book format first. I love her sense of humor.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

This post is really amazing. The kind where I kept trying to remember the parts I had a comment for... You have to add the fact that you lost all that weight to the end of your list as well. Some of us tipped the 2-hundy mark and are making pacts with the devil to lose it.

Here's mine:
- Kids always like me
- I remember song lyrics
- Perfectly straight teeth
- Big bum/thighs
- Can't remember numbers
- Overly-aggressive driver (the kind other people blog about, probably)

7:35 AM  
Blogger reading said...

Just the diversion I need to avoid grading!

My list:

--good hair when properly tamed
--tendency to cry when angry or frustated
--face still breaks out
--little kids like me
--job I (usually) like with summers off

7:54 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

I actually lost weight while pregnanat, but I was heavier to start with and had gestational diabetes, so that might have had something to do with it.

As for my list, I just might turn this topic into the meme it deserves to be!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Excellent post, as usual!

Straight teeth
Highly creative
Hairy arms
HORRIBLE navigator
Cooks well
Worries about everything

8:29 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I love this post! And I love your menu. Here's mine:

Naturally curly hair
Good sense of humor
Really horribly clumsy
Creative and decent writer
Can't do any kind of math including addition without calculator
Kind and good natured
Very bad and quixotic temper
Pinkies so small they may as well be vestigial
More than average skill with cooking and decorating

10:53 AM  
Anonymous average blogger said...

But if you COULD bend forks with your mind, what good would that do you? It's a fairly useless trick, and the forks would be hard to eat with afterward...

I love this idea. I'm going to propagate it.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Oh, what a great post!! OK, trying to think here...My menu

Good in the kitchen
too self-conscious
Good hair
Good listener

2:51 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

This is so great. I was just thinking today about the menu (your word, not mine) of pregnancy ailments - you get some, you don't get others. Eh, that's how it goes.

My menu (abridged):
Natural waistline
High maintenance hair
Aptitude for languages
Singing voice from hell
No stretch marks
Comfortable in any social situation
Ongoing intestinal distress
Unbelievably awesome family
Youthful complexion
Fat ass

3:39 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I just cracked myself up thinking about how a guy would answer this question.

"uhhhhh... huh?"

I'm going to ask Jim and I'll report back later.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Sweet butter on a biscuit...hehe, where has that expression been all my life? I vow to use it in conversation in the next 30 days.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I can't believe I've taken this long to come over here for a visit! :) Hello for the first time. You're a fantastic writer.

Let's see...listmania. Okay, I think I've got mine:

frequently insecure
can identify many birds by song
decent vegetarian cook
chronic worrywart
hyperactive imagination
hates having belly button touched
too emotionally sensitive
self-deprecating (can you tell?) :)

8:50 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

I'm laughing too hard to do my list now. Can I come back? Because at the moment it would come out:

Hiccups when laughing.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

"Sweet butter on a biscuit!" is my new favorite expression.

Here's some stuff from my Life Menu:

zero sense of direction
good, though temperamental, hair
good speller
sensitive palate
prone to ingrown hairs
low pain threshold
tendency to get lots of paper cuts
small waist
horrible dancer
nice upper arms
big thighs
get stressed out easily
very kind

9:08 AM  
Blogger Binky said...

Great post. Let's see...

--good metabolism
--incapacitating paranoia about the inevitable decline of said metabolism
--loving family
--incapacitating paranoia that members of said family are all going to die horrible deaths any day now
--decent writing skills
--incapacitating paranoia that my lack of discipline will negate any and all benefits of said writing skills
--hate talking on the phone
--incapacitating fear that hatred of phones will render existing friendships (which, though plentiful, all happen to be long distance) null and void and that I will end up friendless, as well as fat and widowed, with no published writing to my name.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

I never called it a Life Menu but I subscribe to the same philosophy. And it does help you to get past some of the envy you might have over somoene elses life or rather their "good" menu items.

10:45 PM  
Blogger CISSY said...

What a wonderful post -- as always. My list:

Make a living as a writer - not rich, but it pays the bills
Win at scrabble, or other word games
Speak four languages - only two fluently
Gorgeous husband and kids
The metabolism of a snail, though I did lose weight each time I was pregnant.
Can't dance - seriously

5:57 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Likes to laugh

It gets me through almost everything else..

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Daxohol said...

natural dishwater brown hair
great hearing
can't/won't learn euchre
can play the bass
suck at math
can sing
love to look silly and make people smile randomly on the street
don't have a driver's licence
gag when poked in the belly button

7:36 PM  
Blogger Maulleigh said...

Amen my sister!! Sometimes, when something 'bad' happens I'll ask myself, maybe this was pre-ordained. Like, before I was born, god asked me, "Okay, you got a choice, you can either lose a job or walk in front of a bus and lose a limb: which do you choose?" of course I would choose the former. So, if something bad happens, like I lose a job, I think, "maybe i made my choice before and this is the better one..." it makes me feel better and puts things in perspective.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous whoorl said...

sweet jebus, i'm blushing!

how much do i owe you and how in the hell did it take me four days to find this post?!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

A Perfect Post indeed! Here's my life menu...

Warped sense of humor
Shyness too often mistaken for bitchiness
Prone to migraines
Can't function on less than eight hours of sleep
Sings really well
Has some really fucked up family members

4:16 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

What a wonderful idea this is...for so many reasons! The first time I realized that I had good/bad traits was during a particularly clumsy period in my life. I kept dropping my keys, but always caught them before they hit the floor! Here goes:
Good hair
Irish figure, big belly,flat butt
Sharp, dry wit
No money
Enough money shows up just in time to avoid major problems
Raised two beautiful daughters alone
Raised two beautiful daughters alone
Write pretty well

6:46 AM  

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