So I am walking down the street in Boston and I find myself in the middle of a group of young, blonde women, in their late teens or early twenties. They are beautiful, these young women, with long legs and silky golden tresses. I am thinking that when I was their age, theirs was considered the pinnacle of female beauty: the willowy Scandinavian, the blonde bombshell. And I am thinking how wonderful it is that our culture has evolved to embrace beauty in so many more colors and cultures and varieties.
Still, I'm thinking, these blonde babes are undeniably gorgeous. It's the first truly warm day of spring and they are wearing shorts, and sandals, and crop tops. And I'm thinking about the story that the Boston Globe ran a few days ago about fashion trends for spring. Fashion is a realm in which I am inept, but aspirational; so I read that article start to finish (easy to do; there were lots of pictures and not many words).
Some of the fashion tips in that article: wear something pink. I'm thinking I can do that; I have a few pink things. Floral prints: check. Pastel colors: a little iffy with my complexion, but I can manage. And then I read about how the hottest thing for spring is the return of the crop top, and I am thinking: absolutely not, no way, out of the question.
But these gorgeous blonde creatures are absolutely rocking their crop tops, and I am wondering: why is this such a categorical impossibility in my mind? Mind you, I am neither young, nor blonde, nor gorgeous; but frankly, I couldn't care less. I happily wear shorts and expose my middle-aged legs; and I wear sleeveless tops, exposing my middle-aged arms; and occasionally I wear something with a plunging neckline and expose my middle-aged decolletage. But expose my abdomen? Never. Not in a million years. And I am thinking: why not?
The girls are speaking a Germanic language, but I'm thinking it's not German, and I'm puzzling over what it is. Swedish? Danish? Norwegian? I know it's not Finnish, which is not Germanic. In fact, Finnish is not even Indo-European.
Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language; and I'm thinking that some historical linguist once hypothesized that it might be related to Japanese. And I'm thinking how strange it is to think of Finnish being related to Japanese, since the Finns don't look at all like the Japanese. But I'm thinking: what do they look like, the Finns? Finland is kind of snuggled in between Sweden and Russia. So do the Finns look like these blonde goddesses? Or do they look more Russian?
And I am thinking that there are so very many ways to look Russian. There's that high-cheekboned, Georgian aesthetic, like Joseph Stalin, or my daughters' old piano teacher. And then there's the Northern European look, like Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago. Surely Julie Christie wasn't really Russian...Perhaps her character was supposed to be from the northwestern part of the Russian empire, just across the border from Finland? That's what I'm thinking.
And Omar Sharif: he was Egyptian, and he looked it. Where was his Doctor Zhivago character supposed to be from? I'm thinking the Kazakh border, maybe?
Here's what I'm NOT thinking: that the sidewalks have heaved and buckled a bit this past nasty winter, and they're no longer predictably flat. And so my foot catches on a break in the concrete and I do a flying faceplant, right onto the pavement.
"Oh, my God! Are you OK?" one of the blondes exclaims, in perfect, un-accented English. And I am thinking: does she have an American accent in the non-Finnish language in which she was just chatting?
"Yes, I'm really fine, thanks very much," I answer, as i get up and brush myself off. I'm a little scraped up and bloodied, so I search around in my pocketbook for some band-aids. But i find none. So I duck into CVS and buy some, a big box:
And I'm thinking how when my kids were younger I used to carry band-aids around all the time, as a matter of course; and I'm thinking what a good idea that was, and how I probably ended up using more of the band-aids on myself than on my kids.
And I'm thinking that now I really understand why I would not in a million years consider wearing a midi shirt. It's because a midi shirt would leave that much more exposed skin to scrape and bloody the next time I take a spill. And who really wants a scabby abdomen?
So I tuck a big bunch of bandaids into my purse, to have on hand next time I trip. Because it's just a matter of time before this happens again. After all, I have a lot on my mind.