Remember the scene in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere’s Edward compliments Julia Roberts' Vivian with, "I think you are a very bright, very special woman,” and she replies, “The bad stuff is easier to believe”?
I smell what you’re stepping in, whore, because (self-flagellation aside) I’m a pretty spectacular woman myself, with a certain “It” quality. I‘m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me. But damn if I don’t always feel it, until reminded by myself or others.
Walking to the mail kiosk brings waves from several neighborhood directions; I’m trusted with keys and plant life when neighbors are out of town. The staff at the auto dealership I've known and trusted through three new cars throw in freebies and extras and always introduce me all around. That’s a sure-thing-positive sign, being “owned” by your peeps, the folks in your short or long circles who want others to know it. And know you. Lay claim and welcome you into the larger pack.
Like right out of college when having a hot girlfriend helped get me hired at Contempo Casuals in the mall, the hip chick boutique where the uniform most days was black bike shorts or mini tube skirt, a baby doll tunic or oversized long jacket and cowboy boots (god damn, I miss the 90’s). Only the hot girls got hired there and getting in on a hot recommendation made me hot by association (even if I wasn’t recruited out like the truly hot girls to work at the new concept restaurant coming to town called Hooters.)
That same girlfriend invited me along for birthday brunch around the same time. She (like me) lived hand-to-mouth but she (unlike me) had the empirical beauty card and also ran in a circle of other empirically pretty young hipsters with trust funds and convertibles. One dated Robert Plant, one Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes (or was it the same girl?). I silently dreaded the weekend meal, certain I’d wilt in their combined golden glow but went for my good friend and laughed and talked and ate eggs. A day or two after brunch she called. “Everyone is talking about you,” she said. “I got calls from every single girl there about how cool and fun and funny ‘Jodie’ is.” And even two decades later - on the days my pants explode over my waistband or I find another hard white pimple lurking on the edge of my bottom lip - I’m reminded it’s the package, not the packaging.
I like that I'm mostly socially comfortable and breezy in situations that require an opening line or engaging conversation. A friend with an Architectural Digest-worthy loft downtown used to invite me to parties because I could work a room, make friends and jump start an event. The manfriend is bemused (often) at my friendly making ability. He teases about the phone store guy who replaced my cell battery for free, or the wait staff who know me by name or drink and who bring a second dessert, on the house, because they had an extra in the kitchen. Or the time the butcher block young fellow gave me a turkey meatloaf.
Some girls get showered with flowers and diamonds but I get meat. And it makes the bad stuff not so easy to believe.