Not A Perfect Fit
by Jane A. Schmidt
Genre: Heartwarming Humorous Short Stories
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I find it amusing that while I’ve stopped wearing makeup, my granddaughter, Helena, has started wearing it. This recent discovery was one of those “aha” moments people talk about. I didn’t quite do a head slap when I asked Helena what she wanted for her fourteenth birthday and she replied, “Makeup,” but I did a quick head turn. She was sitting in the passenger seat, and I was driving. I had to look quickly, because I thought for a moment that she’d be in the backseat of the car, securely seat-belted down, with her sippy cup. But there she was, in the front seat, long hair and long legs, asking me for makeup as her birthday gift.
I admit I’ll still grab my wand of mascara if I’m going out in the evening or on a date. I’m addicted to my all-natural lip gloss, and my magic face cream is like my new best friend. But I haven’t used makeup—as in, eye shadow, rouge (do they still call it that?), eyeliner, and face frosting—for a long time now. Did I get older and stop caring what I look like anymore, or have my eyes just gotten so weak that I can’t see my own reflection in the mirror? Either way, my makeup drawer nowadays is slim pickings. And I like it that way. Less mess, less money spent, and faster out of the house in the morning.
Helena has gone from the “I don’t want to shower and wash my hair” phase to the “I can’t stop looking at myself in the mirror” phase, running her hands through her long hair in that way kids do, fast and snappy. As for me, living off-grid for four years without a mirror or bathroom worked wonders for my philosophy that we are a way-too-clean society. I never did understand showering in the morning; if you wash the day’s residue off at night, how do you become dirty by morning? But seeing Helena on her birthday, absolutely beautiful and well groomed, I made a note to myself, and it said, “Remember, Jane, take the time to look in the mirror.”
Which I did—and yelped. When Helena asked, “What’s wrong, Grandma?” I could only reply, “I just saw my reflection.” It’s gotten that bad. I tried running my hands through my hair but my fingers got stuck, and instead of fluffing up my hair, I merely distributed the oil a bit and matted it down.
When we got in the checkout lane, I looked over Helena’s purchases carefully. One was packaged in a pink plastic space shuttle container. I am still clueless as to what was in it. The eye shadow was easy to figure out, though, as were the lip gloss and nail polish.
As part of Helena’s birthday celebration, we went for pedicures. Now that is something I still relish. I am a foot freak of the best kind. “I brake for foot rubs” could be my personal bumper sticker. Helena chose silver nail polish; I went with the hot pink. I loved when they sandblasted the dry skin off the soles of my feet (safety goggles would have been helpful). Helena, however, quickly held up her hand for the young man to stop, pleading too ticklish. She had him paint a nifty flower on each of her big toes. I asked for a swirl on mine. Her flower turned out fantastic. My swirl looked like a snail with paint on its butt had walked across my big toe. I asked to have it painted over.
Right about then I saw a sign reading, “Eyebrow Waxing $10.” When I pointed it out, Helena told me her mom had just had hers done, so I thought I’d give it a try. Only after our toenails were dry and we were walking back to the tiny, barren room where they did the eyebrow waxing did Helena confide in me, “It’s really painful, Grandma.” I’d guessed it might be. I mean, why was the room hidden in the back of the building? Obviously so other customers wouldn’t hear the thrashing and yelling.
I started to tell the tiny torture lady that I was fifty-seven and had never had my eyebrows waxed when she shoved the top of my chair down, and I gulped as I tilted back into a prone position, blinded by an enormous spotlight.
“Oh, very bad. Very bad. Oh, very bad!” she exclaimed.
I tried lifting my head to give Helena my “What the heck?” look, but that tiny claw, I mean hand, shot right out and held me firmly down. I felt something warm, no hot, and Noooo! Oh, that was brutal! And before I could say anything . . .warm, hot and ohhhh again. And again. And again. The whole time the pint-sized, could-be-a-perfect-prison-torture-guard kept saying, “Very bad, very bad,” over and over again.
Soon she pushed my chair into an upright position and handed me a mirror. I involuntarily shrieked upon seeing the two angry, “very bad” welts over my watering eyes. “They look great, Grandma!” Helena said. “Wanna go go-karting?”
And off we went, Helena looking young and simply gorgeous, me looking old and dazed.
I couldn’t help but think that all the makeup in China wouldn’t make my eyes look any better for days . . . maybe even years. Good thing I’ve stopped wearing the stuff.
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1. When did you make the move from the city to rural Wisconsin? Why?
I moved to the Driftless area of Wisconsin after the hype of the millennium in 2000. I spent a lot of time driving in the country when my daughter was small. I'd see an old cabin or a house that was falling apart and I'd think, if only I could buy that place. My dreams were of land, out-buildings, animals, and a quiet country life. I longed to get out of the city and live closer to the land, where I felt I’d have more room for living.
2. How did moving to rural Wisconsin impact your life?
The impact was huge. I had to start all over. I had no friends here, no job, and after a couple of months I was living off-grid. The learning curve was not only steep but sometimes dangerous. I cooked with a head-lamp on in order to see. The “hot plate” was connected to a propane tank under my cabin. I lived in fear every time I lit a match. I thought I'd blow myself and the cabin up. Every day I learn something new. Like don't use the John Deere mower to blaze a hiking trail through your Amish neighbor’s hay field. Before moving here I spent all my free time getting away. I'd drive to the parks, small country towns, lakes, and rivers. I was camping out every chance I had. Now I live in the kind of areas I was always running too. I can finally slow down and walk!
3. What is your favorite part about living in the country? Is there anything you miss about city life?
I lived in apartments before moving to this area. I love the freedom of living alone, surrounded
by trees and my animal family. Coming from apartment city living to my own home in the country is liberating. I feel I can live-out-loud better here. I miss ethnic restaurants, my family, and the many lakes I lived near when in the Milwaukee area.
4. How does your passion for fitness and wellness influence your stories?
My passion for a life lived outside has influenced my interest in fitness and wellness. I knew from the get-go that I needed to stay fit and healthy to live the life I wanted to. My stories revolve around my life. My passion for fitness and wellness is reflected in them.
5. Why do you think readers connect with your stories?
My stories are real. I talk about everyday happenings that some people would never admit to. Reading about walking through an airport with toilet paper hanging off my rear end or mixing up the words circumcise and circumnavigate allows people to relax and find the humor in their own lives. In the end, we're all just people trying to do the best that we can. Not a Perfect Fit reeks of humanness.