The other day Dan asked me to run an errand for him. I was glad to do it because it happened to be the kind of errand I like to run: The kind that requires me to drive to a store that is 45 minutes away. The kind that requires leaving the other kids with Dan and taking only the baby along with me. And the best part–the kind that requires driving Dan’s tiny Toyota instead of my monster-sized van.
I really like driving Dan’s car. For one thing, it’s a stick-shift. That’s cool. For another thing, it’s got good speakers so I can blast a “forbidden-with-kids-in-the-car” radio station with the windows down and the wind whipping through my hair. That’s really cool.
So when Dan asked me to him this “favor” the other day, I didn’t hesitate. Within minutes, I was on the road and I was cool. Along the way, I stopped at a local gas station. As I stood outside the car waiting for the tank to fill, I leaned against the pump and enjoyed the moment. I was by myself (Okay, so Raphael was in the backseat, but he was asleep anyway). It was a beautiful sunny day. The sun warmed my shoulders as I stood outside the car–my tiny car–and took in the scenery. I glanced around the crowded station and with a bit of satisfaction I thought to myself that nobody there had any idea that I was a mother of seven. Ha! Freedom from the stares, the questions, the assumptions. I was just a regular person. A cool person even.
But then I noticed that someone was staring at me. In fact, a whole group of teenaged boys continually glanced in my direction but then averted their eyes when I looked back. Hmmmm, I thought. Could it be? Could I be so cool without my throng of kids, that even these young men were taking notice of me? Hmmmm
It wasn’t until I had finished pumping the gas and was opening the car door that I realized the real reason for the stares. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the car window and was rudely reminded of the fact that I was wearing my husband’s sunglasses. I had been unable to find mine and had grabbed his from the glove box instead.
You might think this sounds like no big deal, but then you don’t know what these sunglasses look like. Dan wears Ray Bans. You know, cop-style glasses with large dark lenses and wrap-around-the-ear metal frames. They look good on him, but on me they are just a wee bit masculine. And a mite large. By this I mean that they cover about 75% of my face.
I stared at my reflection in horror. I looked like Michael Jackson. No, more like a caricatured cop. An exaggerated Erik Estrada. Now I like CHiPs every bit as much as the next 70s child, but this was not a cool look for me. Not cool at all.
But I mourned my coolness only briefly. Then I leapt into the driver’s seat, turned up the radio, and laughed into the hair-whipping wind.