Short Story

I need some new shorts.  Nothing fancy. Just regular, everyday, plain vanilla shorts.

The problem is, they don’t exist anymore.  At least, not for me.

I went shopping the other day after realizing that my supply of acceptable shorts was, well, in short supply.  I grabbed the first pair from the shelf that looked cute normal and headed for the fitting room.  I was feeling pretty smug….do a quick try-on, go back to the shelf to get several more colors and be done.  This was easy!

Then I tried them on.  And turned around in the dressing room.

When did shorts get SO SHORT?  Or did my legs just get longer?  I understand the basic idea that shorts are supposed to be shorter than pants (duh), but a 2-inch inseam on my 40-something legs isn’t doing anyone any favors.  I think these should be called briefs.  So I headed back out to the shelf to search for some longer shorts.

Sort-of shorts, I guess I would call them.  The five-inch inseam looks long enough, so back to the dressing room I go.  There was a point in my life that I would have called these shorts “Mom Shorts”.  This was years ago, when the Mom living in my house wasn’t me.  Back when I would buy a pair of shorts and my father would say “What happened to the rest of the fabric?”.  But back then I hadn’t been blessed by the Cellulite Queen or the Spider Vein Fairy, or caught Baggy Knee Disease.  I had no idea what was coming.

But now five inches seems short too.  I go back to the shelf a third time, now finding some cute Bermudas.  I KNOW these are in style, I see them everywhere!  On fashionable people!  And, they are still classified as shorts (hence the name, Bermuda Shorts).  These may be the answer to my summer wardrobe….long enough to cover the Things Nobody Wants to See, yet short enough to qualify as shorts.

And then I tried them on.  Did you know that Bermuda shorts end above the knee….and just far enough above that they don’t hide Baggy Knee Disease?  I wasn’t aware.

If they get any longer, they aren’t shorts anymore, which then means that I’m not keeping cool when the temps climb.  So now I am back to the original problem that sent me shopping in the first place:  What do I wear this summer?

I briefly thought about stocking up on new sundresses, until I held one up and looked in the mirror.  When did sundresses get SO SHORT??

To an Old Friend

Dear Body,

I am writing to let you know that you are letting me down.  You are not holding up your end of this bargain we entered into almost 46 years ago.  I am not one to shame and to blame, but here are the facts as I see them.

The skin that miraculously stretched (and then stretched some more) to accommodate baby #1 and baby #2 has decided that it will stretch no more.  Now it has decided to sag, especially around my knees.  Not that knees are very beautiful in the first place, but they are especially eye-catching when they have saggy skin on top of them.  And not in a good way.

Fine print on the television screen no longer appears as letters or numbers, but rather a squiggly, white blob.  I can squint and maybe make out a few words, but squinting contributes to other problems (see below).  A bigger television set would mean completely replacing the entertainment center….$$$$$.  I guess I could just wear my glasses, but they make me look old.  OK, look older.

My face has started to resemble a road map.  Actually, I guess it’s more of a topographical map, complete with all of the waterways and valleys.  The area around my eyes has many little rivers and tributaries, which I am sure are made worse by the squinting to make out the fine print on the television set (see above).  The valleys that extend from my nose down towards my chin are referred to by dermatologists as “parentheses”, in an attempt to make them seem more benign.  Some mornings, when I look in the mirror I expect to see a word between them, like my face has turned into an English paper.

The latest curve you have thrown at me is unruly eyebrows.  My hair is naturally wavy, which can be a good thing on top of your head.  Not on your eyebrows.  If I trim them back, I risk bald spots that will need to be filled in with pencil or sharpie pen.  If I leave them alone, they resemble what my hubby calls “Senator eyebrows”.  Look at those old guys next time you watch CNN.  You’ll see what I mean.

I have chronic bursitis/tendonitis in my hips which prevents me from running a marathon.  OK, I didn’t really want to run one anyway, but it’s easier to blame you.

Was it something I did to cause you to rebel? 

I apologize for the brief addiction to Diet Pepsi in the early 80’s, for the late nights and greasy cafeteria food in college, and for the years when I didn’t exercise at all.  I’m sorry for the hours spent by the backyard pool, sizzling myself in baby oil.  Maybe I didn’t appreciate you enough when you weren’t causing me any problems.

Is it too late for us?  Can we move forward together in partnership?  Or will I be fighting you every step of the way going forward?

I would love to be partners again and make this work out.  Speaking of working out, maybe you and I can hit the treadmill this afternoon.  Or get an iced mocha at Starbucks……

Style, or lack of

I checked out a book from the public library the other day, The Grown-up Girl’s Guide to Style, and now my whole summer wardrobe has been called into question. According to the author, Christine Schwab, once I hit my forties I should have given up on anything sleeveless, never wear shorts of any kind (cropped pants should be my new “shorts”), and should only wear a swimsuit when actually swimming. She makes an exception for Katie Couric’s legs and Sheryl Crow’s arms, which doesn’t help me at all! I am now 5 years into making all of these fashion mistakes. Who knew?

What ever happened to dressing for yourself? Being comfortable in the blazing heat of summer? Where I live, in Northern California, we have days as hot as 115 or higher. Even in a air conditioned house, shorts and sleeveless tops stop being fashion statements and become mandatory. Swimsuits are, in name at least, made for swimming. But what about lounging around on the beach, watching the surf but not jumping in it? Hanging around on a friend’s boat? A few years ago, we went on a week-long houseboating trip to Lake Powell. It is safe to say that everyone on that boat wore swimsuits 24/7. According to these style rules, a light long-sleeved shirt and capri pants will be stylish for summer and prevent the general public from losing their lunch.

Now with summer practically around the corner, I am feeling confused. Do I stick with what I am comfortable in, or start to cover up more? If I feel comfortable and my husband isn’t embarrassed, are shorts still an option? Is it really my job to make sure that other people don’t see anything less than a perfect body? I think most of us are critical enough of our own bodies without having to add this new layer of thought.

Legs? Our older legs sport baggy knees that the general public doesn’t want to see, along with spider veins and bruises. Arms? Even the most fit and trim arms get flappy as we get older. If your arms keep waving when your hand has stopped, you know what I mean. I have been lucky enough to have a fast metabolism and a flat belly up to now, but I know from older friends this won’t last much longer.

Summer will come, and sleeveless tops, swimsuits, and shorts will once again come out of hiding at my house….and I don’t plan to let them go just yet! Maybe I am in denial, maybe it’s a bit of a revolt. My best critic is my middle-school daughter. I have absolutely nothing in my closet that she wants to wear, so that MUST mean I am doing something right……