Monday, March 15, 2010
"Washes and razors for foo-foos—for me freckles and a bristling beard." Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass—Song of Myself
As a former journalist, I learned how to slip into and weave through nearly any social situation with relative comfort. After all, that is a skill that a confident writer has: the ability to adapt in any situation in order to gain information from a wide pool of sources. This finesse afforded me the chance to turn down G. Gordon Liddy's offer to have a drink after an interview, to quiz Fabio about his sex life in a very public setting, to ask probing questions of an alleged murderess who confessed to the crime but escaped a first-degree conviction due to multiple personalities. All took place with relative ease.
But I met my match this weekend in a small retail shop that clearly was beyond my comfort level.
Sweet and Sassy.
Sweet and Sassy is a salon and spa franchise geared toward pre-teen girls and their much younger sisters. It is glitter and nail polish. It is pedicures and curls and feather boas. It is fishnet tutus and neon hair extensions and a pink limousine and a catwalk that unfurls from beyond a curtain of silver beads. It is Barbie's Dream World in person.
It is everything counter to my life and my views.
But Kendall was invited to a party, and she desperately pined to go. Thus, I caved and agreed to take her—with great trepidation, indeed.
After I entered the shop, I cannot even say my comfort level was low, for I had no comfort level whatsoever. I had a discomfort level.
I watched as my baby, who’s nearly 5, slipped into a kid’s version of a diva dress. Soon, an over-enthusiastic stylist swept her mid-back blonde mane into an up-do, sprayed it with glitter. Another spread blue shadow across her lids, painted her face with pink, and dolled her pouty lips with colored gloss. Yet another coated her nails in a rainbow of enamel. She was almost like the lion in the Wizard of Oz.
Now a manufactured package, Kendall hesitantly made it halfway down the narrow walkway. Paparazzi moms called: "Work it, girl." Camera rolled, eyelashes batted.
Standing in the shop and watching this emerge , I felt rather dizzy, as if nausea silently crept up my spine and crippled me into a vacuum of discomposure and disbelief. And then, to make it even more pleasurable, Grace asked me if she could try on every version of fake clip-on hair that sprouted from the sides of each display. It was a moment of heavy sighs.
My girls are not foo-foo. Are they?
After the two-hour facade passed, I could not hustle out of there any faster. That night, the glitter and gore washed down the drain, but she proclaimed that she wanted to return, she wanted her own glittery spray, her own sequined shoes of glam. And after bath time, they both wanted their hair ironed and styled.
Gone are the days of footed pajamas. Gone are the days of sippy cups and simple barrettes. Gone are the days of toddler smell. Oh, how I ache for them to remain, perhaps more than their own longing to be Big Girls.
Whitman can keep the bristling beard. All I want is the innocence of untouched freckles.