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January 14th, 2000
The Ego Has Landed.


Yes, the Ego has landed. Truthfully, the ego in question being my own defective, "clinging to the early 80's" ego, it didn't exactly land. What it really did was explode midair, somersault down in a fiery ball of flames, and then perform a crashing nosedive into my vanity. Boom!

Up until tonight, I liked to think I was still a pretty hip chick. I thought this because thinking was clearly the only portion of my life I still had a blue-knuckled grasp on. Yes, there were the occasional days I found myself weaving through traffic on my predestined work route in a coffee-deprived haze as I absentmindedly plucked my eyebrows in the rearview, but the rest of the time I really did strive to kick the gray matter into gear.

I honestly believed I was a happening kind of gal until something transpired this evening that left me reeling on the jagged edge of middle-aged panic. It was tonight that reality snuck up, gave me a solid punch in the nose and made it abundantly clear that I haven't been "thinking" that I was hip at all. I have merely been fantasizing it.

I was forced to revisit my youth a few hours ago. Well, I didn't visit so much as I was abducted by my adolescence and drug kicking and screaming though the dank memories of my formative years. There I went. Shrieking past the missed Proms, the part time gigs at McDonalds and my first training
bra, until I landed with a thud right back in that glue eating center ring of the circus known as childhood.

We had a visit from my niece today. I was seven when my niece was born and, as I prepared for her arrival this week, I delighted myself with recollections of our relationship as children. I fondly remembered shoving her down in the hallway at my family home because she was smaller, making faces at her until she burst into tears and hiding her toys which always
resulted in hours of way-cool agonized hiccuping fits on her part. Being a seven year old aunt was neat. I was just enough ahead of her in genetic fortifying that there could be no denying that I was the queen. She knew her place then. I was better, I was older. I reveled in my simple minded superiority.

Well, it had been almost eighteen years since I'd seen this childhood victim of mine. She's popped into town for a visit with her honey and, after meeting with them at dinner, I've got to be honest; I don't feel that superior anymore.

Gone are her days of teething rings and bottles and in is the era of chic clothes, expensive perfume and that carelessly coifed hair that, when I attempt it, always leaves me looking like I've just emerged from an overactive wind tunnel. My mother even added insult to injury by delightedly announcing, "Doesn't she look great! You know, she's not even wearing
make-up!"

This to the woman who spends an hour in the bathroom every morning with a putty knife, caulking gun and my best friend MaryKay.

So, what's the big deal, you say? She looked great. Woopdie-do, right? Well, let's just tally up the many hits my demolished ego encountered:

Not only beautiful, she is smart. In fact she's a firewoman in Florida and is studying to be a paramedic.

She was featured as Miss June in the "Firewomen of Florida" 1999 calendar last year.

She has tremendous fashion sense. Black shirt, black jeans, black boots. That perfect "Oh, what? This old thing?" outfit. My clothes never say that. It's more of an "Oh my God! Why are you wearing that old thing?" kind of ensemble for me when I try to pull it off.

And the boyfriend. Former snowboard instructor, fellow firefighter, cute as a button and GQ right down to the darling little gem pinched into his earlobe. And he was funny, too. Damn it. I hate it when other people are funny.

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. After all, I'm a young thirty-something. It's not like I need to start listening for dirges over my shoulder.

Dear God, I have to save my ego! I've got to salvage whatever I can of it's crippled and smoldering self!

You know, I did smother that flash-fire on my stove with a frying pan lid the other day. I even singed some arm hair and fried about an inch off my bangs in the process. And about two weeks ago I knocked a jelly bean lodged in my son's throat out with so much force it split the window screen and toppled
the cat off the porch railing. I think that equalizes me in the
firefighting/paramendic area. I don't get paid for this shit, either. That ups me one more.

I've never been a calendar girl, though. I imagine if I was, I'd be some clever "before" shot in the ad section on the back. Right underneath the price sticker. Wait. I did one time have a picture featured of me in my daughter's Elementary School calendar. It was the time I helped decorate for the Valentine's dance and passed out after blowing up eight hundred balloons
in a record three hours. There was a nice little shot of me being loaded into the ambulance. It may not be an entire month dedicated to just me, but if you look really closely at the photo where they were setting up the band tables, and then just out the window and to the far right of the parking lot,
you can make out the last two feet of my gurney as they wheeled me away for oxygen. I'm going to take what I can get on this. Not exactly a Miss June, but Mrs. Balloon will have to do.

I have fashion sense. Clearly my sense has been downing Prozac and dipping heavily into the hallucinogens, but I know sense when I see it. Sweat pants are functional. They really are. I actually managed to shine my floors the other day by strapping a few sponges to my ass and scooching around as I
collected MatchBox cars from beneath my kitchen table. And my sweats all match! Things are beginning to look a little brighter here.

The man. I'm thinking, just give me a second. Well, mine was never a buff snowboard instructor, but....wait. So mine never did anything as clearly heroic as firefighting but he once.... shoot.

I have a man, too.

Now that I've taken a little time to reflect on this, I'm beginning to think I was over exaggerating just a smidgen. And, if you really want to get down to brass tacks, I'm a Mom of four kids. Firefighting be damned, there is nothing more frightening and heroic than that.

Thanks for listening to me vent. I feel much better. In fact, I think I'm going to go see my niece tomorrow and shove her down in the hallway.

   

Unless otherwise specified, all material
Copyright 1999 by
Marijke Hildreth

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