How many of you out there have ever received those skimpy clothing catalogs in your mailboxes during this, the coldest month of the year? You know the ones I mean; emaciated but somehow lovely models grace the pages, lounging and posing in swimsuits that look like Band-aids, filmy, flowy, see-through dresses, and skin-tight shorty-shorts.
I doubt I’ve ever ordered anything from this company except a tube of lipstick, or maybe some earrings. Still, every February there comes that one day when I open the mailbox, peer inside, and I’m greeted by a blonde and a brunette shaming me for not looking like they do.
Well, that’s the way I used to feel, years ago. A long time ago, when I was a more harried, less confident woman, I would cringe when the catalog arrived. And no matter how bad it made me feel about me, I still thumbed through it page-by-page. I’d wonder things like,
Q: “Who in the world needs to buy teeny tiny bikinis in the dead of winter?”
A: The cruise crowd, that’s who.
Q: “Exactly how little does one eat, and how much does one exercise, to look like that?”
A: Very little, and a whole lot. And don’t discount the value of a dang good set of genes.
Q: “Do people really spend $600 on a swimsuit or $2000 on shoes?”A: Yes, they do. Just not people who live at this address.
Oh, to each her own, I suppose. I’m not sure that, if I had the money to buy a $2000 pair of shoes, I’d do it. Too many times, I’ve found half of a pair of shoes heel-less, dog teeth having shredded or punctured what was left of the beautiful leather. That shoe would be sitting right next to the untouched half of the pair, something that upsets me more than finding the whole pair of shoes ruined. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if a $1000 shoe got destroyed, while the other $1000 shoe sat beside it, glaring at the foolish woman who bought them both. I couldn’t do it.
As far as comparing myself to a six ft.-tall skinny waif of a woman, I’ve learned one thing. You really can’t compare apples and oranges. Odds are, those long, skinny chicks had two long, skinny parents. I, on the other hand, had a mother of German descent (neither long nor skinny) and a Big & Tall father. There’s no way on earth that pair was going to produce a model for that catalog. No. Way.
I’m laughing about all this because, as I’m writing, my husband is carefully packing the car for a trip we’re taking to the beach. We planned this trip a couple of months ago when the busy-ness of the holidays and the unseasonable cold of this Georgia winter gave us both beach fever. Yes, we’re going to the beach in February. My legs haven’t seen the light of day since some time in October. I haven’t exercised as regularly as I was last spring, summer, and fall because, well, it’s winter. I’m about as far from “beach-ready” as a woman can get. And I couldn’t care less.
We’re excited to be getting away, just the two of us (and all of our dogs, for the first time ever), to a beautiful destination famous for its peace and quiet, its unparalleled views, and its beautiful wildlife. It’s supposed to be warm, so you bet I’m packing a couple of swimsuits. So is hubby. We’ll wear shorts, our white legs blinding any wildlife that might happen to wander onto our beach. And we’ll enjoy every last minute of it.
There’s something glorious about reaching an age at which you don’t care what anyone else thinks; or maybe, about reaching an age at which you realize that no one ever was ever thinking about you and what you did in the first place. There’s something freeing about reaching the level of (maturity? confidence?) that allows us to enjoy every single minute of every single day, appreciating both the small and the grand. And there’s something fantastic about taking a road trip with your sweetheart, even if it is with three dogs – also sweethearts.
If you get the chance, take an impromptu trip, if even for a few days, with the love of your life. Take a trip alone. If you can’t do that right now, know that spring is coming, unless these warm, breezy days are telling us it’s already arrived. Make a practice of noticing – birds, new leaves, petals – anything and everything. Breathe it in, pollen and all. Nobody’s watching and even if they were, would you care?
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend. com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South.