There are two kinds of people in this world: those who enter a public bathroom worrying that they’ll find a dead body in there, and those who put the dead bodies in there.
Just kidding. But really, I have met so many people who worry that, when they open the stall door of a public restroom, they will discover a dead body (although, to be fair, there are probably many more who don’t have that fear). I am one who does. My daughter is another. And no, I never told her of my fears, because that would just be wrong. She mentioned it to me one day, and I was like, You worry about that, too? And she was all, Yeah, and it’s terrifying! I’m not saying that I really, actually believe I’m going to find a dead body. But there’s always that little twinge of anxiety, just before the door swings all the way open, that I may discover, you know, a woman with her throat cut.
Anxiety runs in my family. It’s on my side and my husband’s side. My kids have it. In fact, in spite of my fears of bathroom bloodshed, I’m probably the least anxious one in my house.
Anxiety sucks, but it’s not really what I wanted to write about today. I’d rather write about socks, and about tormenting my daughter (not with images of bodies in bathrooms).
I was freezing today and had to put on my lovely, stripey snowboarding socks under my jeans. They are very warm and go up to my knees. Pink and blue and toasty. Then I had to run a quick errand, so I shoved my feet into a pair of blue suede sneakers. Nobody could really see the socks, so no big deal. It wasn’t a fashion statement; I was just staying warm. But when Lizzie came home, I felt devilish (I really love to see that alarmed look on her face and to hear her say, firmly, “No, Mom.”). I rolled up the bottoms of my jeans a couple of inches to show off the socks, as though that was how I wore my outfit for the day. When she noticed, she came out of her chair: “Mom? Seriously? Seriously? You’re not serious about those, right?”
When I first started being more interested in style and fashion and looking my best, Lizzie thought it was “ridiculous.” She ridiculed my clothing choices. Then she started borrowing my clothes. Now, more often than not when I come home with a new purchase, she mocks me. The black high-top converse with the hidden wedge heel? Months of ridicule. The soft leather vest with fleece on the inside? Eye-roll. The bright red lipstick? “Just, no.” But with each of those items, a week or two later she comes into my room wearing them, with a hopeful expression, mutely asking me if she may borrow them and quite clearly hoping that I will not say “I told you so.” (Which, of course, I always do.)
So I’m wondering when she’ll appear in the kitchen, ready for school, wearing my wonderful and warm stripey socks with my kicky blue sneakers. When she does, I’m taking a picture. And I will mock her, publicly, on this blog. Wait for it.
To bring this all in a full circle, back to anxiety (because otherwise my thesis paragraph does not effectively prepare readers for what is in the rest of the essay and I will get a poor grade): I used to have major anxiety about what I wore to school. When I lived in Virginia in middle school and high school (rural and several years behind the fashion trends) my mother would sometimes come home from her frequent visits to NY with awesome new clothes. And I’m not sure why, but she often brought me unusual, fun and wacky socks. One pair I remember, in particular, were divided in half, vertically, with one half navy blue and the other half brown. I never had the courage to wear them, but I loved them a lot.
You know, maybe I will wear those snowboard socks with the blue suede sneakers and my jeans rolled up just to prove that I can. And to say “fuck you” to that mean girl in eighth grade, in Virginia, who stopped me at my locker to ask why I got my hair cut a certain way (curled in towards my face rather than feathered back in the classic eighties style like every single other girl in my school). I shouldn’t have explained myself, but I was too young to know that. I told her, “I like it this way, and it’s different from how everyone else has their hair.” And she said (the little brat), “Well, maybe we all have our hair cut this way because it actually looks good. You should try it.”
I am no longer anxious about wearing wacky socks, or afraid of getting new haircuts. So that is progress, even if it took me several decades. On the down side, I still worry about corpses in bathrooms. But we can’t conquer all our fears at once, now, can we?
PS: I just realized why my mom kept bringing me socks! Oh my gosh: remember knickers? They were usually of corduroy, buttoned just below the knee, and were worn with argyle or other funky socks? They lasted about six months, and I only ever knew one girl who wore them, and that was after we moved to Connecticut where kids were a bit more adventurous. I still admire her courage. Mom kept offering to buy me a pair of knickers to wear with my fun socks, in Virginia. But there was no way in hell that was going to happen. Can you imagine what that mean locker girl would have said?
PPS: I’m meeting a friend for a margarita and it is cold and rainy/snowy out. So I am going to wear the socks and sneakers and rolled up jeans. Yay.