Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mate Bait

. . . I’m not anymore. And I am coming to accept it. To tell you the truth, it’s not as if I ever was all that much of a catch. I was never the type of girl that guys cross a room to meet, or beg my roommate for my name and number, etc. I was the girl next door, the one you “had to get to know.” I grew on you.

But anyway. I got sick of waiting for my hair to grow out last week and went and got a perm. Yes, people do still get perms, at least according to my stylist. I haven’t had one in probably twenty years. I’ve been sick. I didn’t care that much. I was up for taking a chance. So I did it.

Yikes! Looks like I stuck my finger in a socket.

The funny thing is that it brought back memories of all the bad perms and haircuts I’ve had over the years, and all the crying I’ve done after each one. This time I didn’t cry—well, maybe a little, but it was more because I had a doctor's appointment that day (right after the perm), and the doctor wasn't helpful and I felt that the bad hair was just adding insult to injury. It wasn’t so much that I cared what people were going to think and that I was afraid to go out in public. I discovered that I didn’t care anymore. Sure, I look like Carrot Top or Bozo the Clown. But I’m sick. I feel sick. I act sick. I look sick. How does having bad hair change anything? It just doesn’t matter anymore.

But as I think about it, I see that it’s not just that I’m sick. It’s also that I am getting old. I turn 37 next month. !!!!!! That’s officially “pushing forty,” isn’t it? And I realize suddenly that I am not mate bait anymore. As in: no one cares how I look. How I look has no effect whatsoever on what people think of me anymore. I’m just a “lady in the ward.” People know me because of my calling, because of my kids, possibly (dream on) because of my writing. But no one cares how I look.

This is freeing. And also a little sad. I somehow missed out on the phase in which I am hot and feel hot. (Isn’t everyone entitled to at least a few years of that? A month? A couple of days?) I kept planning to lose weight, find the right haircut, etc., and I never really got there and now it’s gone. I can daydream about what it must feel like, but I’m realizing now that I’ll never experience it. Aaah, sigh. It wasn’t important. But would have been nice. (I have, however, lost the weight. I am in a size six now. I am svelte! But I don't even care now because for me it is a symbol of not feeling well.)

Meanwhile, I am less afraid to look people in the eye anymore. So I’m middle-aged with a bad perm. Also dark circles under my eyes. But I’m alive. My life is good. I can do an awful lot considering how I feel. I’m actually quite happy. What does it matter? It’s kind of nice to move from caring to not caring, from worrying to just being. I’ll take it. I don’t mind getting older—I’m only just now beginning to feel like a grownup. It’s a good life.

While I was at the doctor’s office, I picked up a magazine (Salt Lake City) and found a feature on local bands. And there in the picture was my first crush, the guy I adored—and was sure I would eventually marry--at age 14. He didn’t look any older. I figure he must be 40 or so, but he looks like an overgrown teenager. Still playing Mr. Cool with his little band. That was pretty bizarre. I wondered what it would be like to run into him at the mall or something—would I be embarrassed about how I turned out? I look pretty much like your typical Mormon housewife. Is that bad? Well, I’d like to think he would look at me and think, “Wow!” But I’m pretty OK with thinking that he’d probably say to himself, “Well, she turned out just like her mother.” That’s not a bad place to be. I like my mom and am pretty proud of how her life turned out (and the huge turnout at her funeral tells me she had a big impact on the world, housewife and all).

It’s nice to know that I wouldn’t trade my life for a cooler, posher, chic-er life. It’s nice to know that I like who I am, perm or not.

In other news, I’m told Dialogue will publish two more poems of mine. And, even more exciting, I got a package in the mail from my friend Mark a couple of days ago, and inside it was . . . a chapbook of MY POETRY!!!!!!! The guy went and printed up a booklet of the poems he could find of mine online. All stitched up with a cover and a picture and everything. I love it! It’s so cool to hold it and flip through it! I can’t imagine that anyone else would ever care, but it’s got me dreaming . . . could I ever produce a book? Maybe? Someday?

I suppose I’d have to get my brain back first. But I will. I will heal; I know it. I am thinking healthy, faithful thoughts. Meanwhile, Mark made my day. What a guy.

And here, because I claim not to care, is the Hair. (It needs a capital letter because at this point it would probably require its own plane ticket.)


Mark B. said...


As much as one married Mormon can say this to another married Mormon without getting punched in the nose or hauled into the Bishop's office, in the most loving-yet-platonic way possible, I think it's important to point out that I have always thought you were hot.

Plus, I'm glad you liked the book and that it brightened your day.

Jennifer B. said...

Darlene, you are all the more HOT because you think you aren't.

P.S. Hair is a pain. I used to think someday I would figure out what to do with it. My hair is completely different now after several pregnancies and is more baffling then ever!

Darlene said...

In the most desperate, never-gets-such-nice-compliments-except-from-hubby-who-has-to-say-so-anyway way, I say Thanks! Coming from such a young guy as you, that means something. (wink)

How is your hair changing, Jen? I can't believe it isn't still luxurious and long and dazzling.

By the way, I have added two paragraphs to this post, so you might want to look back.

Roger said...

You said, "except-from-hubby-who-has-to-say-so-anyway". Guess what? Your hubby already thought so and that is one reason why he wanted to be your hubby! By the way, I still think you are HOT - even with permed Hair.

Justine said...

Darlene, you look beautiful!!!! And you make that perm look good! Just embrace it, honey! I think you're one hot mama.

texasgal said...

Shut up Darlene, you look fantastic. I love the perm! It makes you look "alive"! And you have a million-mega watt smile and nice teeth and kind, wise, eyes. You are far from a disaster in the looks department.

You're just not used to yonder perm, but soon it will become your signature hairstyle and people will start imitating it, hee hee.

I don't believe that there is an age when people stop being "hot". I know three women in their 50's who outshine thier college-age daughters with ease. Although the daughters are beautiful, they need another 30 years on them to look as dazzling as their mothers.

Congrats on the hair, & get well.

Jennifer B. said...

No way! The old flame is still in a band? Interesting.(Would that be M?)

You are so nice! My hair got frizzy and wavy--very curly actually, but not in a normal way. It's crazy curly underneath in the back; but on top in the front it's still mostly straight. I decided I wanted to start wearing it short, but it just gets BIG! So, it's still long, and I still avoid spending much time on it, but I'm learning how to tame it with hair product. Weird.

Maralise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darlene said...

Hey, thanks everyone. I guess I should do this more often . . . write some poor, pity-me post that begs to be contradicted. What an ego rush! You are all kind.

Texasgal, do I know you? Whether I do or not, welcome! I'm glad you stopped by. (You can stop by and say nice things about moi anytime.)

Roger, your opinion DOES count, more than anyone else's. Don't ever forget that! I adore you, sweetheart. You're the best.

Anonymous said...


After reading your post, I expected the worst regarding your hair. But based on what I see in the photo, I honestly think you look fabulous.

Dave Y.

Cheri said...


Never mind about the hair! (though I wholeheartedly agree with everything texasgal said)--but I was inspired by your attitude: loving your "just a Mormon mom" life, accepting and rejoicing in who you are right now. Plus your a great writer, weaving everything together effortlessly.

love ya,
Cheri Schulzke

Darlene said...

Thanks, guys. I'll fish for compliments more often after this . . .