Do you remember the scene in “Bridget Jones’ Diary” where she and Daniel Cleaver arrive at the lovely country inn for their mini-break weekend, having driven to the inn via sassy convertible? And Bridget gamely stands there in her Jackie O sunglasses and cute little outfit, with her hair blown all to hell in a giant ratty bouffant from the drive? I hope you do, because friends, that is me.
I am SO the girl who takes an extra 20 minutes to make sure her outfit is perfect and then promptly sits in gum, or the girl who dashes for a cab in heels, hoping for a Holly Golightly-Carrie Bradshaw effect but managing instead to trip on a pothole and grab onto the cab’s trunk in an effort to break the fall. Or the girl who forever misjudges what look is appropriate for what gatherings, and shows up for beers with Big Investment Bank co-workers in a stupid t-shirt and smoky eye makeup (which, by the end of the night is inevitably smeared from eye to cheek to hairline) instead of smart twin-set separates and a manicure.
I am the girl who fell over the subway turnstile and had to limp home, bleeding, and I am the girl who wore sneakers and bad jeans to a chic gay dance club . I am the girl who cannot get her hair straight and who ended up with a giant scab on her nose after hearing that toothpaste can dry up blemishes (it dried up the teeny tiny zit, and left a huge chemical burn on my skin in return). I am the girl who has a bug fly into her eye on a date AND GET STUCK THERE, and I am the girl whose pants are always falling down and whose bra-strap keeps slipping down her arm.
In short, I am Bridget.
I would love to be able to wear all white and have a bouncy ponytail, but the second I pull on my white pants I have a tendency to brush up against something a) dirty, b) greasy, and c) unidentifiable.
I’m sure I’ve covered this at some point on this site, but I am always, ALWAYS almost pulled-together, but never all the way there. And one of the reasons I love my friend BritGirl so much is because she is right there next to me, almost pulled together but feeling Just One Smart Pair of Shoes away from it. She always looks great to me, but at the same time, is the one person who can understand the belittling experience of walking into the Ralph Lauren store on 72nd Street on a hot summer day, (“Oh, this is a high end store. Perhaps you might want to browse across the street at Ralph Lauren SPORT.” Otherwise known as the Get Thee Back To Brooklyn store, where the sizes are rumored to go above 2, perhaps even as high at 8.) But I digress.
Our friend Pastry is recently engaged. And Pastry, while not necessarily always pulled together, is a beautiful Poreless Wonder. She has perfect skin and a perfect body and a perfect tan and a perfect fiancé and is just perfect perfect PERFECT. She just got engaged (with a perfect engagement story) and is planning her perfect wedding and on Saturday BritGirl took her to try on dresses for the first time. And, because she is perfect, the very first dress she put on was The Dress, and choirs of angels sang out, babies clapped, flowers bloomed and she looked gorgeous and, well…perfect.
Pastry is one of my best friends and I love her dearly. I really, really do. But I look at myself – unshaved legs and zits and bad hair and WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE, and then I look at her: smooth skin, lovely face, blond hair, perfect body, generous in-laws-to-be, sunshine and butterflies and ice cream cones. It’s hard. I mean, the girl is PERFECT -- she met her fiancé on a blind date and his parents basically send them bags of money in the mail and they have said they’ll give them a DOWN PAYMENT as a wedding gift and she is always cute and perky and everyone loves her and wants to help her and take care of her. It’s like a ray of sunshine just follows Pastry around, wherever she goes. And the last thing I want is for that sun to stop shining on her, I swear. I just want a little for myself, sometimes. Okay, all the time.
But I had a point, once upon a time. Which is that perfect isn’t always so perfect.
BritGirl and I had breakfast yesterday morning, fresh off a weekend of feeling fat, blemished and bitter. (She had shown up at my store on Saturday after looking at dresses with Pastry, frappaccino in hand. “I felt like a whale, so I got the most fattening drink I could find and came straight here,” she said. “Good girl” I told her. BritGirl is, by the way, a gorgeous size zero pixie waif with adorable hair and a sassy British accent, but I can commiserate with the Whale Tendencies.) We ate croissants with ham and cheese and sat in the little park near my apartment, watching all the perfect Brooklyn mommies with their Bugaboo strollers. “I hate her,” I told BritGirl, eying the glowing mother with funky pigtails and a peasant skirt. “Good. I hate her,” BritGirl answered, pointing with the remains of her croissant to the mother nursing with one arm, talking on her cell phone with the other. “I hate everyone,” I sighed. “I wish I lived somewhere full of poor, infertile people with bad taste and cheap shoes.” BritGirl nodded. “Let’s spend money,” she offered encouragingly. “Maybe expensive t-shirts are what we need.”
It turns out that expensive t-shirts are not what we needed, as they show the fat roll above our jeans just as much as the cheap tops do. It also turns out that expensive t-shirts are still being sold exclusively by skinny whores with bad manners in overprices boutiques. But there was a happy ending to our morning. After a delicious breakfast and some significant gossip, we came to the heart of the matter: we are not perfect; we are better. We fight with our husbands and get pimples and blisters and clothes never fit us right and we are frustrated with our careers and have no idea what we are doing and we drink too much and exercise too little, but WHO CARES because we are fun and young and interesting.
Then we went and bought new sandals.
I swear that I am not a shallow person. New shoes are not the panacea to all my ills -- if only life were so simple. But time with a good friend heals like nothing else, and I came home from my morning with BritGirl feeling happy and secure, despite the mess that I may be most days. The truth is that the last six weeks have been really stressful for me and I’ve had a rough summer so far. You can look at me and see it written all over my face. But after hanging out with BritGirl, I felt a little more convinced that my flaws are more than that in the eyes of people who care about me. Which is when I decided to put on my stretchy pants and watch A&E’s “Pride & Prejudice” miniseries. Also known as the MOST BESTEST THING EVER.
Two hours later I was back on the phone with BritGirl. “I know! I totally know!” I was saying to her. “I would never want to be Jane!” “We are Elizabeth!” she yelled back. “Pastry is Jane and it’s okay because she’s our friend but you and me are Elizabeth!” I slurped my margarita, nodding at the phone. “Elizabeth is the sexy one anyway,” I said. “Plus, she’s brunette!” BritGirl yelled back at me, “I know! I KNOW! We’re fabulous! Even with fat rolls that hang over our jeans!” “I love our fat rolls,” I told her. “Flat bellies are stupid and ordinary. We’re sexy and so are our rolls.” “Huzzah!” she said. I slurped my agreement.
Which is why it’s so important to have friends who understand that a) you can wear a size 6 and still feel like a whale, b) a good fattening breakfast cures nearly all, and c) all that really matters is to find people who like us, just as we are.