Sunday, January 13, 2008

Walter Mitty Wasn't this Dorky

It is 2 a.m. in New York and here I stand at a large picture window of a glassy penthouse, the twinkly skyline sweeping out before me. Steely Dan is playing on the turntable, Michael McDonald's distinctive voice augmenting the chorus of session singers..."Peeegggg--It will come back to you" Donald Fagen reassures the titular character. I move slightly to the beat, my red spaghetti strap dress fluttering softly. A kiss on my shoulder from that guy who handed me that glass of Dom Perignon earlier. "Like what you see?" he asks.

Suddenly the turntable is bumped, the needle skips and I am back in this world, at a small poets potluck, in a 2000 year and not circa 1978. This is the age of the ipod, not disco. I wear all cotton, nothing silky or slinky or polyester. This is Portland, we're in a little house overlooking Ross Island and just as I mention how much I love hearing this old vinyl, Ian brings me down to earth. "Steely Dan sucks."
He puts on a cd of Nick Cave's "The Good Son", we all sit down to eat, and I once again wonder if I am not the biggest dork on the planet.

Moments of being in a slightly other world are pretty few and far between these days, but the evidence remains. I had to stop telling people that Joe gave me "ELO's Greatest Hits" for Christmas because of the uncomfortable silence that follows. Can I help it if I used to race to the radio to turn up "Sweet Talking Woman" when I was, oh, eight years old? While many of my peers are raving about new bands I've never heard of, I go to Music Millennium and pick up old Split Enz and Todd Rundgren cds. What do you mean you haven't heard "Something/Anything"?

I like a lot of new stuff too, but it's never the right stuff. I don't know the music of anyone in the top 40; the only Justin Timberlake tune I'm familiar with is "D*ck in a Box", and even then, I had to buy the SNL season dvd because I just don't stay up that late anymore. I never thought I'd choose sleep over cheap laughs, but it's true, I'm getting older, and the dorkiness is becoming more pronounced.

Being kinda dorky isn't a bad way to go. Portland is perfect for it, to a degree. Dorkiness is cool only if you take it to an extreme. I don't own any ironic tee shirts, though, and I do wear my bike helmet, and my glasses are kinda cool because I just like that "old lady" look. No laptop to hauled around in a beat up messenger bag with my band's sticker on the flap. I ride a mountain bike on the street. Extra dork points there. My clothes look like they might be from Goodwill because I actually shop there. No "made in the USA" hip stuff for me.

Oh, and I smile at people on the street. How uncool is that? I wear COLORS, not just black. I wore fleece long after Portland stylistas proclaimed it the worst thing possible. What, and freeze to death waiting for bus in that cute little beaded cardigan? Puh-leeze.

But I sometimes like to think that I'm one of those gals who wears cute little beaded cardigans and a black mini and tights that make me look like my legs were two miles long instead of being stuck in my milk-stained nursing bras and jeans that make my legs look shorter than they already are and maternity tops because they're the only ones that fit my nursing top-half. My imagination lets me shine inside even when the outside feels a little shabby, plain and far too functional. I work with kids, and unlike the woman I used to see walking the preschoolers out to play who wore dresses and high heels, I dress to be destroyed. Rarely do I dress to be admired, but in my secret, unreal life, those slinky dresses and little shrugs don't look ridiculous. In fantasyland, I can go out for a nice meal and eat my food while it's hot and not be interrupted by a needy baby who is about to smear pureed pear and carrots all over me. These days, especially with baby, it's a whole different world.

Case in point: heading out for sushi with another mother,sans babies, she turned to me and said "Oh my God, it's Friday. This is a date. I should have dressed up." We laughed at the thought of having time to dress up. Then I realized that, wearing my clogs and having brushed my hair and put on a little lipstick, I did dress up. Cindy, I hope you feel special.

Back upstairs to reality now. We have friends who love me, come as I am, coming over. Time to pick up the toys, wipe the crusty baby food off the table, and treat them like they've just come to tea at the Palace. It may look humble, but it's all in the attitude, baby. All in the attitude.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Saw that SNL too. Ralph loved it. Hmpf. I'm getting more and more comfy in yoga pants, have my favorite stained sweatshirts....earrings and lipstick are dressed up. This is the life!