Why I’m So Hot

I can feel his eyes on me as I dress and move towards the door.

“I thought for sure you’d do it today,” he says through sleepy whispers.

My gaze drops to the floor and I sigh, “Not today; maybe next week. I’m just not ready.”

He mumbles something and rolls over, not wanting to press the issue. How can I explain this to him in a way that he’ll understand?

I can tell by his reaction he thinks I’m a certifiable basket-case; a nut; a kook.

But he’s called me on it, and he’s right.

I’ve developed a phobia of sorts.

I just can’t bring myself to wear shorts this summer.

And today? We hit the 100-degree plus mark.

They taunt me from the drawer with their short legs and breezy leg openings. In their neatly organized piles sorted by color and fabric, they promise summer fun and cuteness.

One pair even has pleats that I carefully ironed last fall before putting them away for the last time.

But was it the last time for the season, or the last time at all?

I’ve always been a shorts-in-the-summer kind of gal, always made sure that I had all the basics covered: a white pair, a dressier pair, denim, khaki, and maybe a crazy plaid pair. Funky cut-offs for the beach; snazzy linen for brunch.

But plans like that were made with legs that I haven’t seen in a few years.

Not the legs I’m hobbling around on these days.

Lately I’ve become rather fond of knee-length short-type things (Bermudas?), skirts that end at the knee, and capri pants. All of those styles that cover that back part of the leg. You know, the longest part.

My ankles are rather nice, thank you very much.

As I get closer to that looming 50th birthday in a few years, I find that even though I’m comfortable with myself, I’m not so comfortable subjecting other people to the horrors that age is bestowing on me.

While my legs have always been pale, now that paleness is accentuated with purplish veins like the doodles of a distracted middle school girl.

In purple Sharpie pen.

Knees are never really sexy, but mine are now encased in baggy skin. Where exactly did the fat under there go?

It quite possibly migrated north and stopped for a layover on the shores of my belly button.

That explains a lot.

And don’t even start on the exercise thing. I suppose that exercise alone would transform my legs, make them shorts-worthy in no time. Or possibly make the veins even veiny-er.

If I were willing to commit to it.

I even went shopping, determined to find the pair of shorts that I could actually wear with confidence this summer.

If I thought my legs looked horrid at home, they looked like abstract art under the tragic fun-house lights in the dressing room at Kohl’s.

Do they do that on purpose? Is there a hidden camera show I’m not aware of that taunts middle-aged women with cute clothes, then lures them into a room with hideous lighting and crazy mirrors?

If there is, I was a contestant.

This battle isn’t over, but for now?

Shorts:   1
Sherri:   0

Who Moved my Cheese?

As I pull into the parking lot, my nerves are frayed; I feel like I can barely breathe. They say to admit you have a problem is the first step, but they never say just how big a step it will be. The building looms ahead with welcoming lights on and the blurred conversation inside sounds lively.

I can do this.

Just as I enter, the leader is calling everyone to attention and they take their seats. I dodge quickly into a seat near the door, averting my eyes from those near me so I won’t be dragged into an unwelcome conversation.

“I see we have some newcomers this evening,” the leader announces. I think I may throw up. “Each of you please stand and tell us a bit about why you are here.”

One after the other, several other participants stand and blather on about why they are here. Their reasons seem important to them, but pale in comparison to mine.

“Miss? I believe it’s your turn now,” says the scraggy old lady to my right. She probably thinks anyone under the age of 65 qualifies as a “Miss”.

I clear my throat, still unsure about whether words will come out or vomit.

“My name is Sherri, and I have cellulite.”

I hear several gasps and hushed conversations, until the leader calls for quiet. “Continue,” he says softly.

“Well, I know there are others here that have problems too, but this is a huge deal to me! I have always been thin and have never had a weight problem. Then, in my 40’s, I began to notice in the bright sunlight that I have cottage cheese deposits on my thighs! My thin thighs! This makes NO sense to me at all, and I think there must be some mistake. It never should have turned out this way.”

“Tell me,” the leader asks, “do you eat lots of healthy foods? Do you exercise regularly? Does ice cream sound good right now?”

That was a cheap shot. But it does sound good.

“Well…,” I stammer. “I do enjoy lots of different kinds of foods. And I have been known to use the treadmill now and then. Oh, and I jogged just yesterday!”

That sounded like a rather mediocre attempt at an answer.

“I think we can help. There is a 12-step program for cellulite, but it’s going to be hard. You may need a lot of help, especially when summer returns and you start eyeing the short shorts again.”

“I’ll do anything! I just want it gone!”

An eerie silence fills the room. Other participants are looking at each other with uncomfortable expressions. The old lady next to me takes my hand gently.

“Oh Sweetie, it will never be gone. It’s a little gift of middle-age, along with a pot belly and excess facial hair. All you can hope for it to keep it from ruining your life, and the life of those around you.”

“But what about the 12-steps?! I will follow them, I promise! I want the legs back that I had in my 30’s, when I didn’t realize what I had!”

I feel light-headed. This isn’t the outcome I had hoped for at all. The leader approaches me and kneels in the aisle to speak quietly to me.

“The first step was admitting you have a problem. The other 11 steps involve covering, disguising, or altering the appearance of the cellulite. These can be time-consuming (like #3, using self-tanner) and life-changing (like #5, giving up shorts). But never give up in your quest to complete the program. Your friends and family will thank you for it. Really.”

I quickly stood up from my chair, and started briskly walking out of the building. As I neared the door, I stopped and turned to face the stunned group of people, mouths open in shock.

“I refuse to accept this as my fate! I should be enjoying the warm weather, wearing shorts and short dresses! You will see; I will find a way to get rid of this horrible badge of middle-age.”

I retreat to my car, feeling defeated and sad. And suddenly wanting an ice cream.

It’s almost fall anyway. I’ll be back in jeans soon enough (step #10).

This post is linked up to Word Up, YO!, which is masterminded by KLZ, Natalie, and Liz; The Word of the Week is:

Mediocre

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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??

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……