Weird experience at the grocery store today.
I decided last night that I wanted to do two full weeks' shopping, at least the protein. Woke up from nightmares and didn't feel like showering yet (later, after chores), so I pulled on a long black skirt with a gentle ruffle at the bottom, a black spaghetti-strapped soft shirt with the fabric knotted together over my breastbone, and then went for lipstick. I don't often wear it lately, but felt like it, so why not.
"Should I wear red, or corpse brown today?" I asked Johnny. "I'm leaning toward corpse brown." It's overcast outside and maybe I'm feeling a bit goth.
"I like red." he said, so I shrugged and went for a red.
The neat thing about red lipstick is that if you're wearing the right shade, it doesn't matter what else you're wearing. Blouse with a little stain, pants that don't fit right--they vanish, because when people look at you all they see is your perfect mouth. So I reached for one I hadn't been able to wear yet, Nyx' matte "Perfect Red," a vibrant blue-red that I got on sale for two dollars a few months ago. It's supposed to be a dupe of NARS' thirty-dollar "Ruby Woo."
I roll it on, don't bother blotting since it's pretty matte, and Johnny and I head out the door.
When we get to the store I pause behind the car to fix the straps on my sandals, which I had kicked most of the way off for the drive. I lean one arm on Johnny's shoulder, and look up in time to see a woman in her middle fifties with the *sourest* facial expression, who is staring full-on at my mouth.
Weird. Okay. Weird. I smile at her, and she frowns deeper, all her skin pulling forward to knot around the moue like wet silk around a broomstick.
I fix my second shoe and move on.
I'm trying to eat better. I'm going to be thirty-five years old this year! Past time, perhaps, to stop having brownies for breakfast every couple of months. All the vegetables my mother ever fed me were iceberg lettuce, corn on the cob, carrots, bitter green beans from a can or frozen cauliflower and broccoli mix; while I eat a great deal more and fresher produce than that as an adult, I still don't really know enough about balancing a meal. So this month, I'm making a concerted effort to learn. I've had to turn to long hours of internet searches for help.
Our culture is pretty stupid about appearances and women eating. I look up calorie trackers and it's always "How much weight do you want to lose?" which is definitely not the point. I want to not feel queasy in the mornings or faint in the afternoons, I want to not have diet-related mood swings or exhaustion, I want to have the energy for a springy fumikomi on my thousandth haya-suburi. But over and over again the articles I look up talk about how this'll Get A Man to look at me, or how it'll Make the Other Girls Jealous.
So I go through the grocery store with no list in my hand, just a strong idea in my head. Chicken breasts, pork chops, salmon, a bit of beef as a treat. Two eighteen-packs of eggs, a gallon of milk. Lots and lots of vegetables. We go for protein first ("Shrimp Sale!" the signs chirp) and when I'm debating between one package of chicken breasts and another, I notice another middle-aged woman staring at me with a nearly-identical facial expression to the woman in the parking lot. I frown, accidentally, before flashing her my winningest smile.
She *sniffs* and turns away.
While I'm looking at the eggs, at the corner of the aisle a woman draws her cart short with a jerk, looks me in the eyes and frowns.
While I'm going through the produce aisle, a glare over the oranges.
While I'm passing the wine, a woman looks me up and down and shakes her head once. She looks scandalized. She looks like she wants to say something. I smile at her, and she looks away.
By this point I'm reflexively smiling at everybody in something approaching paranoia. The butcher gives me a shining grin. A silver-haired man picking out yogurt drinks straightens up and throws his shoulders back. A little baby girl with a blackened eye, about to start fussing, is immediately fascinated by eye contact and relaxes. Her mother glances at me suspiciously and then takes the win and sees to her other two kids' argument. "This is weird." I say to Johnny out the corner of my mouth. "I keep getting glares off of older ladies. I don't know what's going on." Dress Affordable prom party wears specially for thick waist
Before I've finished the sentence a woman with her silver-gilt hair teased to perfection makes herself the sixth woman in her age-bracket to wish death on me inside of half an hour.
I pause. "Is it the lipstick?" I've never worn this lipstick before. I've worn this shirt before, and I've worn this skirt (not together, maybe?) and never gotten this concentration of attention.
Johnny shrugs. "They're jealous." He sounds like he means it, and like it doesn't much surprise him.
I think about those fucking stupid fitness articles about getting attention, about how great it would be if every other woman at the gym loathed me.
I think about Being Pretty, and how frequently I feel ugly, and how pointless the whole continuum is. I think about the sword calluses on my left hand and how much I miss them as they melt away, now that I'm not getting pushed to practice as hard as once I was. I think about "strong is the new pretty!" and how that's just trading one form of radiation for another.
I think about six AM in the locker room before kendo tournaments, tired women and girls yawning, perfect strangers wishing each other good fortune, old rivals quietly chuckling "this year it's my turn" at each other. I miss
I try to ignore a seventh woman huffing at me, as I turn toward the self-checkout.
My first nightmare, last night, was about trying to teach crabs how to help each other out of buckets. "If you all line up on the rim, you can pull the next one up beside you," I said. In the dream, sometimes I was a crab too, trying to figure out how to use my pincers without causing pain. I have no answers.
At least I've got a couple of weeks worth of meat in my fridge now.