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However I know that if I do take a picture of the flowers, I'll never actually look at the picture again. The colors would be nice and bright, but there would be nothing particularly interesting about it. I'd never put it up on Instagram or anything, so what's the point. Every day I walk past the row of flowers on my way to Odds cafe to drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the social atmosphere as I do my work, and every day I think about taking a picture, but I never do.
Then, two days ago, as I was walking past the Zinnias on my way to Odds, a very large butterfly landed on one of the blooms and began to crawl around on its skinny antennae legs. "Bingo!" I thought. "What a delightful picture that would make, and I bet I could get very close to that butterfly, close enough to capture all the amazing details on its wings!" I took my phone from out of my bag, and waited for a moment for a minivan to pass by before I could cross the street.
But when the minivan approached, it slowed down. Then it stopped right in front of me! In the driver's seat I could see a man pumping away at an old fashioned crank to lower his non-automated window. From the looks of it, this was a little bit of a struggle for him. When the window was down, he leaned his head out, pointed his big fleshy face at me, eyes hidden by a pair of iridescent wrap-around sunglasses and said, "Girl, you keep dressing like that, you ain't never going to get laid."
Then the minivan lurched forward and tore off down the road, leaving the flowers swaying on their stalks and the butterfly, as startled as I had been by the encounter, flapping away.
Now I'm going to tell you what I was wearing, not out of defense, but simply because the absolute ordinariness of my attire bears mentioning. I had on a very simple floral sundress from Patagonia that I purchased four years ago, which I think says a lot about the sturdiness of Patagonia clothing. Sturdy may not be a quality that is revered in the fashion world, but it's certainly something that I value. I was wearing Chacos, also quite sturdy, maybe a little clunky as far as footwear but again, I haven't had to replace the sandals in three years.
Flung carelessly around my shoulders (and sort of wrapped around my neck, like a security blanket, or a scarf) was a lightweight, long-sleeve T that I'd brought along just in case it got drafty inside the cafe. I always pack a layer, even in summer. In fact, summer is the most important time to do so, as certain business owners brutally refrigerate the climate inside their establishments to temperatures so arctic and artificial they could easily kill off all the babies and the elderly on the premises. Why so many people insist on this practice, I may never understand.
All in all, I had assumed (without actually giving it any thought) that dressed in this outfit, when taken in combination with my hair style (average, but not unpleasant) my current fitness status (not my best, but pretty good) I had achieved an overall appearance so appropriate to the season, time of day and location, and in all essence so neutral that I was, essentially, invisible.
A few years ago, if I wanted to turn heads as I strolled across campus or through my watery Norwegian neighborhood in Seattle, I could. I had at my disposal a small but, looking back on it, pricey, arsenal of Aveda smoothing creams and lip glosses and strappy things, as well as that authentic, impossible to replicate buoyancy and petal-softness of youth. Fashion sense did not come in my toolbox at birth, nor did even the most rudimentary makeup skills, but I could get by, and I saw a healthy dose of ego-boosting, life affirming attention from the world, as did every girl I knew. Nothing outrageous, but I enjoyed it. I look back on that time with great fondness.
I no longer spend money on clothes or unguents or anything of that nature. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't have the money for it. Window shopping or perusing through catalogs just makes me crave things I can't have, so I stopped going into stores altogether, and gradually the idea of buying new things faded from my mind. Mostly.
It's a mellower season of life. For the most part I inhabit a nice, sensible cloud of comfort and self-assurance, the kind that comes with having everything I need for the time being. I have a loving husband, a middle aged corgi, and a reliable pack of friends. When I find myself with a little extra money, I go see Dr. Reilly for a chiropractic adjustment, and I feel great. Strangers on the street have stopped noticing me, and I've stopped noticing that they're not noticing me. I'm 30, good enough on most fronts, and life is a-ok.
So besides the outright bummer of being sexually harassed on my own street, I actually found the whole episode vaguely entertaining. I don't like the concept of such a guy being out there, trolling around the neighborhood and being a dickweed to women, and of course we could get into the multiple layers of failure inherent to a system that could churn out such a character: I certainly don't find that amusing. I would have been much more outraged to hear that this guy had said something like that to one of my friends. But for me, I guess I just didn't care.
I don't meant to give this creep any credit, or to be overly sincere about the whole thing, but it did make me consider this aspect of life at the moment. I put the the least possible effort into how I look right now. That could change when I make a little more money, maybe not, but for now: I'm cool with it.
For Mystery Prize Monday, my question is: what are you just kind of cool with right now?
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(Next week- just to get you all drummed up, Nici Holt-Cline of Dig This Chick and I have come up with an ultra special MPM post and prompt, with a Geo Hoodie as a prize! But hey, that's next week.)