“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds” — Winston Churchill
Oh Winnie (we’re on informal terms), I am with you pal. Accepting that we are all so imperfect (even you Win – you had a weirdly shaped head and drank more than your fair share of alcohol – I’m just sayin’…and what about that temper, hmm?), able to choose the road less traveled with the right intention and the wrong shoes, discovering once lost that we’ve reached a dead-end (while walking without a compass – I still don’t know how to use one, but some people find them handy). Striving, reaching, folding inward…reflecting upon the answers to questions with a million possible choices. Perhaps we are lucky enough to find a perfect moment in between all the others, and arguably that’s pretty damn good. We all know that nothing holds up under intense scrutiny – a perfect rose, an exquisite smile – if gazed upon for too long morphs into something that is slightly wanting (and occasionally a little weird-looking).
I accepted this reality a long time ago – and yet, I’m still searching. And I’m an idiot. I have been on a quest for the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect cosmetic blush, the perfect pen for decades (decades, I tell you). Straight jeans, boyfriend jeans, jeans with spandex so I can look thin and not breathe, dark jeans, bleached jeans, expensively ripped jeans, bootcut jeans. I have a long torso and short legs (imagine trying to dress a fireplug), and still wonder if all jeans require that there be a gap at the waist that permits you to catch a lovely breeze while you’re walking. A pair of jeans that are well-worn and soft, comfortable to a fault that don’t provide the opportunity for me to end up with a self-inflicted and seriously painful wedgie. Jeans that will close without holding my breath and a zipper that moves easily without the need to lie down on the bed to ease its movement.
I’ve just about given up on this one – I buy ’em bigger these days, because I just can’t abide by things that hug me so tightly I begin to feel light-headed. How do I look? Probably like a representative from Munchkinland who didn’t make it into costume in time. I am completely aware that Vogue isn’t calling anytime soon.
Make-up is just one big come-on and I fall every time. Each color is “wonderful for any skin tone”, “gives you that natural flush”, “just apply on the apples of your cheeks and you will look instantly refreshed”. No I won’t. I look like a frightening marionette or my application is so light that people ask after my health. “Coral” looks like I’ve got navel oranges affixed to my cheeks; pink as if I’ve strategically stuck on cotton candy so I can grab a taste throughout the day. Brown? Don’t ask. If I pinch my cheeks (as some fashion editors recommend) I hurt myself and am left with two welts. So why am I still bothering? Hope my friend, hope. It’s stronger than reality.
Which brings us to my obsession with pens. Those who remember me from my work days know that my preference was always to use a fountain pen. Italic nib, so I could write pseudo-calligraphy and remain questionably legible. I wanted a pen that would float along the page, no sound of scratching, ink flowing evenly and with the sort of fluidity that the end result would almost have to be equally flowing and beautiful. I also thought it would improve my illegibility, transforming it into magnificent penmanship. Cheap pens, expensive pens, I have committed to so many, only to discover that I am fickle and that my expectation keeps changing. I really understand that there may not be a connection between the loveliness of a pen and the words that I write (a bitter, bitter pill to swallow – “I coulda been a contender”). But I believe there is some writing instrument out there that is going to be close to transformative. David (davidkanigan.com) wrote of the “Perfect Pen” yesterday and I felt my heart begin to race. Could it really be? And it’s available at Office Depot? No specialty store? No secret password to gain egress to some high-end pen shop? You know where I’m heading today.
And yet I know that I will like the pen. I will not love it, for it is not a fountain pen – but perhaps it will inspire sentences that leave you breathless, wondering with awe how I could even conjure such flights of fancy and delight. I think I’ll wear my two-sizes-too-big-jeans over there and just keep hitching them up (true I probably walk like a short Walter Brennan but people give me a wide berth) and mix the corals, pinks and browns together before lightly dusting them on my cheeks. It may seem that my face needs a good washing after that, but what the hell. Totally unkempt woman walking into Office Depot in search of perfection. No one will believe it.