I loathe spiraling into a terrible soup of Mean Girl unkind thoughts and Tuesday afternoon when I was waiting for Beav after school it was a Bad Thought Palooza. I was watching for him and I noticed a woman walking out of the school who was in the Stepford Knolls baby sitting co-op when our kids were small. Marcia Cross’ character on Desperate Housewives character– Brie –reminded me of her because they share the same level of beauty and striving for perfection. I immediately recognized Brie because she had the nerve to look exactly the same as she did the last time I saw her almost ten years ago. Same perfectly styled hair, lithe figure, expensive looking clothing and boots. I wanted to hate her as I looked down at my lap: I was tricked out in an oversized thrift store sweater probably from the Clinton administration, and my Target jeans. My hair was perfectly dirty and thrown into a perfect pony tail. Thank God she didn’t recognize me. (Why would she even see a frumpy middle-aged woman sitting in a blue MINI van?) She was deep in conversation, her jaw was set like it was a difficult subject or she was disagreeing with the other perfectly coifed and attired woman walking with her. They looked well kept but super angry and harried. At that moment, the only thing saving me from complete despair was noticing her HUGE butt. This woman is Pilates Body Skinny except for her ka-thunk-a-thunk. I laughed at myself for being envious because I could shower, style my hair, and put some decent clothes on with the best of them, right? Maybe if I took a little time I wouldn’t find myself drowning in the green soup of envy.
Beav gets in the car, and we exchange our usual pleasantries, he makes a remark about the rap music I had on and I told him I was just curious what it was and it was listed on NPR’s album preview but he was welcome to turn it off I just hadn’t had a chance to do it. Because I was too busy stewing in a deep soup of terrible envy. I’m maneuvering my way out of the parking lot when I notice an immaculate and new Mercedes-Benz SUV moving slowly and carefully towards me. And then I noticed the woman behind the wheel. Of course it was Brie. Because that’s how life was working for me this particular Tuesday afternoon.
The terrible jealousy bubbled up again and I felt my jaw set just like Brie’s. Perfect, I bet her life was perfect and she was completely free of worry outside of her sorority fundraising, dinner at the country club or should they spend spring break at St. Kitts or someplace simple like Aspen. And then I remembered Brie’s husband.
Brie was earning every Kate Spade and Armani in her closet (the size of my bedroom if I recall) because her husband was an even bigger butt than the one she was sporting on her body. He was tall, blonde, and handsome. He was also wildly successful. Too bad he was incapable of fidelity. One night at a party, I was alone–it was Ward’s turn to miss something because of baby sitter issues–Mr. Brie was drunk and alone (Brie had left earlier, upset he was drunk) so it made perfect sense to him we should slip off somewhere. Creepy. I moved away from him, left the party and walked home bathed in shame that something I had done invited his attention. To a small degree, I have carried this shame around with me until Tuesday afternoon when I realized the only thing I had done was show up at a party without my husband. And there wasn’t anything wrong with that. Because I was already in June’s Dark Chamber Of Horrors with the jealousy, I found myself angry at that asshole. Then I was sad for her because I remembered, a few weeks after the party, Brie, me, and other mommies were sitting around the baby pool (Oh My GOD that was a long time ago!) and she announces Mr. Brie is going with a bunch of his buddies to Las Vegas for the weekend, “a boys getaway with a few of his old fraternity friends.”
One of the twelve thousand reasons I didn’t make it as a Stepford Wife was my approach to life has always been Filters Off. I looked Brie dead in the eye, and the memory of her slippery husband trying to corner me at a party as the reality of what she was announcing filled my imagination. This guy was not going to catch a show, have a big steak dinner, shoot some craps, and tuck it in around midnight. This guy was gonna make Bill Clinton look like Jimmy Carter. “I hope he’s careful and doesn’t bring anything home.” Was my unfiltered by carefully weighed remark to her announcement. It took her a minute to understand what I meant and once she did her reaction was a mix of horror and disbelief because her husband would never behave that way. Ever. I think I countered with a shrugged: “Boys will be boys.” Especially arrogant drunken boys in Vegas. I can’t remember what happened after that, one of my friends probably changed the subject with her eyebrows raised into her hairline to signal I should STFU because everyone knew Brie’s husband was an ass but “we shouldn’t be saying those things out loud.”
Here we are fifteen years later, she drives an $80,000 car, lives in a 6,000 square foot home, and possesses a magnificently ginormous butt. I hope the last decade and a half hasn’t been spent just trying to keep up appearances and making sure he covers his tracks as she looks away. I hope she hasn’t lost her self-respect. Meanwhile, I drive a $10,000 car, live in a 2,000 square foot home, and have ginormous back fat. I’m also lucky to be loaded in the self-respect department. I don’t have a lot of money in the bank but I do have buckets of self-respect. Realizing this might be what her life is missing, I wanted to turn the car around and make sure this wasn’t true.
I felt terrible I had discounted everything I have: a couple of good sons and a partner who would never dream of behaving like Mr. Brie. I wanted to stand in front of her in my oversized 1990’s Bill Cosby sweater and dirty hair and ask her if she was happy. How terrible to sell out like that: for a car/house/lifestyle when by now she had probably figured out the kind of person she was married to. She didn’t deserve to have the dark cloud of my jealousy put all over her. Brie deserved to have only good thoughts cast in her direction. Because really? Her life wasn’t easy. And then, after I found out if she was happy or not, I wanted to add, “hey, I’m sorry for the mean thoughts I was harboring and really those jeans don’t make your butt look that big.”
Ok, maybe just a little.