Saturday, May 30, 2009

Streetcorner Symphony

Me: 1991.

"We should just dress you up and put you on a street corner."

Not exactly the positive message a mother would normally want to send to her three-year-old daughter.

When I went to school with my mother on Friday, we were on the way home when we somehow got onto the subject of this oh-so-special former mantra of Momma's. I told her that everyone I had ever told that she used to say this, thought it was horrible.

"Child prostitution is no joke, Mom."

"Well, that's what you looked like! Okay, what would you say if your little three-year-old daughter insisted on wearing a leopard print skirt and a shirt with different patches of animal print in different colors with red high heels?"

(I do remember the shirt she was talking about and it was AWESOME. As for the heels, they were a gift and I loved them dearly.)

She said I used to ask for these very ostentatious outfits and say that "But Mommy, I need them!" (Which totally sounds like me.) And in return, she would buy them with the caveat that I could not leave the house in them.

"I was worried about you! Who knows what kind of attention you might have gotten, what kind of people might have taken your picture. You were exactly the type that all those child sex perverts liked..."

"So you made tasteless comments?"

"[As if I'd never spoken] I always said, 'She's the one I'm going to have to worry about...' You know, with men."

"...uh huh."

"But I was so proud. You turned into such a prim and proper young woman."

"I guess..."

"I was so worried, Elizabeth. [at this point she looked deep into my eyes] I thought I was going to have to worry about you going around half-dressed, flashing people and things."

A little background on what I was like as a child: I liked attention. A lot. I had long hair full of bouncing ringlets, and was ADORABLE. All the old ladies at church used to tell me so. I was in dance, had a sparkling personality, and was more than a little precocious. I LOVED attention. So, I can see why my mom might have been worried.

"Well, I'm not going to lie to you, Mom...I just might have. Fortunately for you, I turned out to be fat."


And that's how the conversation ended. Just as offensively as it began. Seriously, though, I've never actually thought about what I would be like if my self esteem hadn't been shot to hell at such an early age and I hadn't become so introverted and neurotic.

And she is right (those words leave a bitter taste in my mouth), I probably would have been a little too outgoing for my own good.

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