Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lesson #31: Never take beauty at face value.

When I was a little girl, my mother was the epitome of beauty. Everyone talked about how beautiful she was. Her beauty was simple, and for a time it was appropriate. She was a hippy child: She wore her dark hair in two long braids and never wore makeup -- no mascara, no foundation or powder, no lipstick.

One of those funny-the-things-you-remember memories of my girlhood is my mom's bottle of Oil of Olay sitting on the bathroom sink. It sat there throughout all the years I grew up. In my head, that bottle was the secret to my mom's beauty. All of the other girls' moms wore makeup. By sixth grade most of my friends wore makeup. But people commented on how beautiful my mother was, and she needed none of the equipment or supplies the other mothers used, so I assumed her secret was that bottle of Oil of Olay.

As a teen I came to love heavy eyeliner and mascara, but as an adult, I am a makeup minimalist. From my grandmother I learned to always carry a tube of lipstick in my purse -- to her, the tube is necessary to refresh the face of a lovely lady. To me, it reminds me that I'm a woman and I haul around all the crap a woman should haul around in her bag. Of course, since I never remember to wear lipstick, I've managed to haul around the same tube for the last decade or so.

And because my mother did it, I bought a bottle of Olay and put it on my bathroom counter. I used it religiously, believing that the moisturizer was helping my face to keep a youthful glow and a beautiful countenance, just like my mother's.

My mom came to visit me a few months ago. At one point she disappeared, and after a while I found her giggling in my bathroom. She was holding the bottle of Olay. "Do you use this?" she asked.

I nodded. "Sure. I use it because it's what you used."

She gave me a quizzical look. "Me? I would never buy something bourgeois like this! I was laughing at the fact that you would."

"Yeah, huh!" I countered. "You always had a bottle of Olay in the bathroom! I distinctly remember that!"

Mom giggled harder. "Oh that!" she said. "That was a free bottle they sent me in the mail. I never used it. That's why it sat there!"

I was tempted to toss that bottle of Olay after that. But something compelled me to keep it. All these years I thought the secret to my mother's beauty was in that bottle, and if I would just use it, I might be beautiful too. It was tough to learn that bottle was empty, a shell of beauty, but really, it's quite funny if you think about it. The secret was in the bottle after all: Like hers, my bottle now sits on the counter unused, a reminder that I don't need expensive creams and fragrances and formulas to be beautiful. I am my mother's daughter, after all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lesson #30: Beware of usurpers in bulldogs' clothing

Husband acquired a new puppy last November. Squambolina (don't ask), is a quirky, intelligent Olde English Bulldogge, a squat little gargoyle with a remarkably advanced sense of humor. She talks like a human: If you aren't paying attention, she'll yell at you. If you don't give her what she wants, she'll whine or cry like a dolphin. And if everyone else in the room is talking, she'll start gabbing with the rest of us.

Her smarts are what get me. She knows how hard she can play with each of us -- she's delicate with the toddler, a little rougher with Son#3, and she doesn't play with me hardly at all. She knows my lap is only allowed on special occasions (I'm just not an animal person, unfortunately).

She also knows she's Husband's dog. She sleeps at the foot of his bed. She follows him around from the moment he walks in the door. And she watches how Wife and I treat him, and remarkably tries to mimic us. Case in point: A few days ago, Husband complained about his aching feet. He was sitting in his recliner with his legs up, Squambo on his lap. I was standing over him, and in a rare moment of compassion on my part, I reached down and started massaging his feet (Husband will say or do just about anything to get someone to rub his feet -- doesn't matter who you are, either). I was allowed to do this for about 10 seconds before Squambo laid her 40 pounds of squatty dogness on the foot of the chair, pushing Husband's feet out of my reach. Then she started licking and petting his feet, herself. "Looks like Squambo showed me who gets to rub your feet," I said, and we laughed at her brazenness.

A couple nights later, Husband was laying on the floor and wrestling with the toddler. Baby Frog kept tilting Daddy's head back with his hand and planting big wet kisses on his face. After Baby Frog moved away, Squambo came over, tilted Husband's head back with her paw and licked his face. It was cute, of course, if not a little creepy at how quickly she learned the behavior just by watching the toddler do it a few times.

Yesterday, we realized that Squambo isn't just an innocent puppy dog with quick learning skills and territory issues with Husband. She's a gen-u-wine usurper. A couple of days ago, Wife became upset when she realized she had lost her wedding ring. At some point during the day, it had slipped off her finger. She spent a few hours searching for it, and went to bed dejected.

The next day, as Wife and I were getting ready for work, I heard yelling in their bedroom and rushed to see what had happened. Husband and Wife were laughing, yelling, almost in tears, and there sat Squambo on the bed, looking as smug as any mistress. "What happened?" I asked breathlessly.

Wife showed me her wedding ring.

"Where'd you find it?" I asked?

"On squambo's toe!" Hubby exclaimed.

At some point, our innocent, precious little bulldog found Wife's ring, and managed to fit it onto one of her toes. It was somewhat scuffed -- from being walked around on by the dog, we assume. We have no idea how long she'd had it, how long she'd been wearing it, or even how she got it on her foot.

What we do know is that we need to watch out for that little hussie. Who knows what she'll do next!?!

PS. The picture is not Squambo, but it looks remarkably a lot like her! I pulled the pic off of a "dogs for sale" site here.