Why do women hate themselves? That’s the question my husband asked me last week as I stood in the kitchen chopping Granny Smith apples as he dipped his 73rd blue corn tortilla chip in guacamole and chased it with a Corona.
I was counting and congratulating myself on the genius decision I made to marry this man some 20 something years ago. He met all my spouse criteria.He was cankle free and has a freakishly fast metabolism which means he can eat a lot and never worry about wearing a man girdle. My whale-ish inability to burn fat was going to get a kick-start by joining up with Mr. Super Metab.
I also required a spouse who was smart. I hear wives all the time talk about how they’re so much smarter than their husbands. Really? Classic mistake. It’s all about upgrading your gene pool, ladies. You want to marry pretty high on the I.Q. scale. I really wanted to marry smarter because there is a big old dumb ass gene that runs in my family and I needed to do everything in my power to dilute it as much as possible.
What made my husband ask the question – Why do women hate themselves? – was that I had just finished a tale of woe about being invited to a “Cleanse” party. Which I gathered is related to a Diet Shake party, but more hard-core and perhaps is code for “Come Join Us in our Quest for an Eating Disorder.” A neighbor way, way down the street was hosting the “Cleanse” event and had sent e-vites (from the look of the e-mail list) to any women over the age of 18, who lived in the neighborhood was breathing and ambulatory. I had clicked the “Oh, so sorry to miss the party” box and blissfully thought that would be the end of thinking about something called a “Cleanse Event.” I was wrong.
My neighbor, Cleansey, was a tiny woman with straw blonde hair and so little body fat she was boob-less and butt-less. If you looked at her in direct sunlight she resembled an upside down broom. Cleansey wouldn’t take no for an answer. She came over to my house and re-invited me, stopped me when she saw me walking my dogs and sent me a barrage of e-mails about “how she just knew, KNEW, this could change my life.”
“What makes her think I want to even change my life? Doesn’t it take a lot of hubris” – as soon as say this my son yells downstairs, “Exaggerated pride or self-confidence” and my husband looks at me and asks, “SAT vocab word?”
“Yes, and if I knew taking a prep class would give him SAT Tourette’s, I probably wouldn’t have signed him up. Where was I, oh yeah, isn’t it exceedingly presumptuous to assume that someone is unhappy with the way they are? I don’t wear a T-shirt that says ‘Looking to Change – Please Help Me’. Maybe I have the most wonderful, joyous life in the world and would die, really die a quick death if anything were to happen to alter my perfect existence or maybe I’m change-a-phobic or better yet maybe she’s a changeholic and needs to be under 24 hour supervised medical care.”
I was supremely annoyed and when I got to the part of my story where the neighbor was causing my Snarky senses to tingle. My husband stopped in mid chip and said, “You might want to get that checked out. Maybe there’s a cream for it, like a Snarky Icy Hot treatment.”
I thew a dish towel at him and asked, “Why do you think my presence is so desperately needed? Was I going to be the mascot for the party? The token size 12? I’m telling you this neighbor really needs to back off.”
That’s when my multi-taking eating, drinking and lovingly caressing his iPad screen husband (God, I don’t think I was ever the object of that kind of adoration) looked up and asked the question, “Why do women hate themselves?“
“What do you mean? I don’t hate myself. I’m no iPad mini and therefore no longer the love of your life, but I’m okay with that. You’ll come back to me – you always do. First you cheated on me with your Blackberry, then you threw that over for your iPhone and now it’s the iPad and the Fitbit, but sooner than later you’ll tire of your slutty tech mistress. She’ll let you down. She’ll throw a temper tantrum and refuse to unlock even though you know you’re typing in the right passcode or she’ll go all passive aggressive on you and not hold a charge long enough and then there’s a very good chance her apps will have a bipolar episode. That’s when you’ll come crawling back to me looking for some low tech affection.”
He gave me a guilty look, stopped touching his iPad and said, “I’m talking about women in general. Admit it – women, in general, hate themselves. There is no way in hell a guy would have any kind of party whose soul purpose would be to make you feel bad about yourself. Guys have parties where you drink, talk about sports, lie about money and how great you are.”
I tried to interrupt him to make a point and defend Team Female but he was on a roll.
“Furthermore if some guy tried to have a party whose main purpose was to make you feel like crap and then attempt to sell you something. He’d get a beat down.”
“Okay, okay, you maybe on to something. I’ll admit that some women, may at times, not like themselves very much, but we, as a general rule, do not hate ourselves.”
“Wrong. If women liked themselves then something called a Cleanse Event would never be considered a party.”
Later that night as I unloaded the dishwasher I had to admit that my husband had a point. How else could a person send out an e-vite with the words “bowel refresh” and get women to click on the box that says, “Thanks! I’d love to come.”
The next morning I brought up this topic with some friends as we walked our dogs. I told them what my husband said and was waiting for the moral outrage. You know what I got? Agreement. Instead of women shouting, “What a bunch of crap!” I got, “Yeah, we do kind of hate ourselves.”
“Really,” I asked, We do? Why?”
My friend Kelly said, “I don’t know blame our mothers, blame men, but not many of us are in love with who we are.”
I said, “I think we should blame ourselves. We suck and you what’s even worse this whole becoming a mom just turns back the hands of time.”
I see my dog walking companions give each other the “look.”
“Yeah, just stop with that. I see it. I know what that means. That’s the, “Oh dear God, she’s going off on a rant” look. Well, this is good one – so settle in.”
“We’ll settle in, if you’ll settle down,” says Allison. “We love your rants. We promise. They make us all walk faster, but don’t worry it’s not because we’re trying to get away from you.”
I ignored my best friend and began my rant prep. It starts with a deep breath to ensure an optimum supply of oxygen. Really, you don’t want to have to slow down your rant to breathe. It messes up the whole rhythm or much worse gives someone a chance to pull a rantus interruptus which is the height of bad manners. Once I had ensured my lungs were in scuba tank mode I began.
“Becoming a mom means time traveling. No, I take that back. Becoming a mom and entering an elementary school means time traveling. When I worked full-time I was judged on my ability which meant how much money I could make for the company. If I was making money I could look like the love child of a troglodyte and Sasquatch and no one would care. I mean I’d have to smell good and address any unsightly facial hair issues, but really my appearance wouldn’t be a deal breaker. But, enter a freaking elementary school holding the hand of the love of your life – your child – and it’s junior high 2.0. It’s all about the pretty, the skinny, your clothes, your handbag, your daughter’s backpack and that backpack better not be off the rack at Target. Your little girl needs to work it in a Vera Bradley or Northface.
There’s also the posturing, the cliques, the feeling that the group of moms you just walked by were talking about you. And God forbid if you dare to admit to eating and sleeping. Yes, the two very things essential for our species survival is frowned upon. Eating is bad – unless you’re subsisting only on, I don’t know Whole Food’s Fair Trade organic eucalyptus leaves. What are we kola bears? And sleeping means you’re a lazy slob. Do you realize how many moms brag about how little sleep they get? We’re not mothers of infants anymore we’re allowed to sleep – right.? Even worse to prove their not sleeping moms use social media. Facebook and Twitter are their “Look at me I’m not sleeping” logs. You know I’m right about this. How many times have you gone on Facebook in the morning and seen moms posting at 3:35 a.m. ‘Still working on my volunteer project or I can’t sleep going to the gym.’ It’s hell and we do it to ourselves.
As much as we’d like to we can’t blame men or our mothers. It’s 21st century Momming. I tell you years from now cultural anthropologists are going to look back on this and it will be like the stonings in biblical times. We’re killing each other and that’s why someone can throw a Cleanse Party and we’ll all come. We’re not Generation X we’re Generation Idiot.”
And then I had to shut up because I felt like my lungs were going to explode.
Allison spoke first, “I have nothing to say, but that you’re right, I’m hungry and I slept 8 hours last night.”
Then Kelly said, “Oh God, you’re planning a scheme aren’t you?”
“I can honestly say, I currently have nothing planned (pause) at this juncture, but as we all know that could change.”
The next day things did change. I was running errands at the mall and just happened to walk by a Mrs. Field’s Cookie store. There in the display case was a large round cookie cake decorated to look like a basketball and in big letters March Madness was spelled out in black frosting. As soon as I saw that cookie I got an idea. I asked the young woman behind the counter if she could replace the M in madness with a F and the D with a T? She said, “No problem. Just give me a minute.”
She takes the cookie cake to the back and then comes out a couple of minutes later and says in a perplexed voice, “You do realize your cookie cake now reads March Fatness?”
Smiling I say, “Yes, I do.” I then pay for the cookie and literally skip out of the mall. I was going to go to the “Cleanse Event” this evening after all and my cookie cake was going with me. When I got to my car I called Allison and told her I needed her to go the Cleanse. She said, “Hell no.” Then I mentioned the cookie.
“Is it from Mrs. Field’s or the Cookie Company? Because if it’s Mrs. Field’s I’ll go, that buttercream icing is the best, and you better make sure I get a big piece with lots of icing.”
“Yes, it’s Mrs. Field’s and yes I promise you’ll get the biggest piece with most icing.”
“Then I guess I’m going to a cleanse.”
I announced to my family during dinner that I would be gone for about an hour to attend a party. My husband gave me a worried look and said, “The Cleanse Party – you’re actually going? I’m afraid to ask why?”
My daughter then over-shares that I bought a cookie cake for the party. Big mouth.
“You’re taking a cake to something called a cleanse party? Yeah, like this is going to end well. Tell me again which neighbor it is so I can be sure to avoid them for the next six months.”
I just sigh and roll my eyes and then my son whips out his phone and shows his dad how he’s taken some map app and put little flags in all the locations of people I’ve pissed off. He tells my husband he’s named them “Zones of Exclusion.” It’s times like this I think I deserve a better family.
The “party” started at 7 p.m. I had decided to arrive 30 minutes late. I take my cookie cake and begin to walk cross the golf course for two reasons. It’s faster and it gives me a terrific vantage point to spy on the party before I enter. Cleansey’s house backs up to the 12th hole and has a nice cluster of maple trees I can stand behind and do a little Peeping Tom action. As I’m walking across the course some random golf nazi runs out of her backyard to scold me for walking on the golf course. I don’t get it. No one’s playing. It’s getting dark and it’s grass. I’m walking on freaking grass not the Shroud of Turin. I pretend I don’t hear her and start jogging which isn’t that easy with a cookie cake the size of a large pizza. I get to the maple trees and just as I thought I have a bird’s eye view into the back of Cleansy’s house. The family room looks pretty full of people and I noticed trays of carrots and celery and a juicer. That’s was my cue that it was time to liberate the cleanse. Just then my phone rings and it’s Allison.
“Why aren’t you here?”
“I am here. I hiding behind some trees on the golf course and looking right into the french doors of Cleansy’s house.”
“Wave at me.”
“Why would I wave? You can’t see me. It’s almost dark.”
“I’m waving. Do you see me?”
“Maybe. Where’s the cookie cake?”
“I had to put it on the ground because I can’t hold the box and my phone.”
“Get my cake off the ground. Gross, think about the ants. Hold on a minute I’m going to walk to the bathroom so I can talk. So guess what? Cleansy has all of us here eating some cauliflower crap, drinking some kind of witches brew, she’s calling green tea, and she’s trying to sell us $350 juicers so we can do the cleanse.”
No way – $350 for a juicer! I seriously would have more respect for her if she was a whore.”
“Really, you would respect her more if she was a prostitute?”
“Well, at least she’d be selling something, somebody wanted and not trying to lower her neighbors self-esteem so she shake them down for cash. You know what really makes me mad? She’s trying to get us to buy a $350 juicer and not once, not one time, has she so much as bought a roll of gift wrap or a box of Girl Scout cookies from my kids. Yeah, I’d like her better as a whore.”
“Okay, whore it is. Now, just get over here. I want my cookie cake.”
I leave the golf course and walk to the Cleansy’s front door. I don’t even bother to ring the door bell. I just saunter in and place the cookie cake on the dining room table right next to a tray of broccoli crowns. Let me tell you that cake attracted quite a crowd and the party hostess was not pleased. She trots into her dining room, sees the cake and says in most non hostess voice, “WHO brought THIS?”
Oh, hi, I did,” I say. See how cute it is? It’s says March Fatness. Isn’t that kind of darling?”
(“Darling” being my “go to” word to disguise when I’m being an ass.)
“It most certainly is not “darling.” Nothing in that cake, cookie, whatever it is – is on the cleanse list.”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know we were starting the cleanse right at this moment. You know what? I bet all the grease in the buttercream icing will act as awesome colon lube for upcoming cleanse. ”
“You can’t be serious about that,” she says in a pissy voice, “And I’ll have you know this evening is the kick off party to starting your cleanse.” Now her voice gets a little breathy and high-pitched like she’s just seen Jesus and she coos, “You can buy this juicer tonight and tomorrow wake up and start your brand new life.”
“What if I like my life the way it is? I happen to think I have a great life.”
As soon as I finished my sentence someone I had never seen before walks into the dining room and goes, “Yum. When can I have some of that?”
“Right now,” says Allison and using her hands, rips off two piece of cookie cake, gives one to the woman next to her and shoves the other piece in her mouth.
Cleansy looks me up and down and says, “Don’t tell me there isn’t room in your life for improvement?”
Allison, while chewing her cake and with orange icing on her nose lies and goes, “No, she has the perfect life. In fact, having her life was my number 1 New Year’s resolution – 3 years in row now. Number 2, in case anyone cares, was having more sex. Well, really any sex.”
I look at Allison, shake my head, laugh and then noticed Cleansy is getting really mad.
“I’m going to have to ask you to remove that “cake” (she says the word cake like it’s the F word or something) from my home.
“Oh, okay, I just brought it as hostess gift, but no problem I’ll take my cake and go.”
I begin to close the lid on the cookie cake and a couple of women ask me what I’m doing.
“Cleansy wants me and my cake out of her. I think I offended her with my food offering.”
A youngish woman who I know from the soccer fields says, “Where are going with it?”
“I don’t know I was thinking of taking it out to the 12th tee box and finishing it off.”
Another mom goes, “Can we come with you? I don’t have $350 to blow on a juicer and I want to leave before she starts the aggressive sales pitch.”
“Sure, in fact, let me make an announcement. Excuse me, excuse me, everyone. I’m going to be taking my cookie cake out to the number 12 tee, it’s right over there, and eating it until there’s not one crumb left. If you care to join me I’d love to have you.”
Cleansy squeals as me, Allison and four other moms walk out of her house. We get to the golf course, plop down on the 12th hole, put the cookie cake box in the middle of our impromptu circle and begin eating and bitching about $350 juicers. Allison asks, “Did everything go as you had planned?”
“Oh, I think better than planned. Once this gets out there’s not a diet shake, diet cookie, starvation, cleanse, de-tox, juice fast, weight loss party that anyone in a 50 mile radius will invite me to and that means my work here is done.”
And then I took a really big bite of cookie.
*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon. It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. I hope you like it!