New Jersey Housewife Makeover

As a gay friend of mine recently said, “Every woman should have a housewife.” How true. I am fortunate to have not merely a housewife–but a New Jersey Housewife at that.

Following my separation from a husband of nearly 24 years, I spent four months wearing black, covering all the mirrors in my house and avoiding activities like exercise, socializing, applying make-up, and sunlight. (Luckily, I am a teacher at a Quaker school, so avoiding these activities did not make me stand out from my co-workers.) And so, as I always do when faced with crisis or change, I traveled to New Jersey– land of my birth– to visit my sister. This is the sister who sports a third breast (though much smaller than the other two) from having lived so close to the chemical wasteland that is Elizabeth.

As I pulled into her driveway, my sister’s first words to me were–oops I take that back…Her first words AFTER she said, “I better not see him or I’ll f****ing kill him,” were, “Megan, just because you work at a Quaker School doesn‘t mean you have to look like a Quaker.” (No offense intended here to my Quaker friends–I’m inspired by the Quaker philosophy of simplicity–specifically, no makeup and especially no clothes that flatter the human form. Quakers invented the muumuu–though originally it only came in black.) And thus began the New Jersey Housewife Makeover.

Starting from coloring the crown of my head, (ouch) and continuing on to the French pedicure, the entire make-over took three solid days of work–from 8 am when I was forced to lie out in the sun, taking only a 30 minute lunch break to afternoons of shaving*, waxing and dipilitating (debilitating) to early evenings of finding my “color palette” (is puke considered an actual color?) until well past Desperate Housewives reruns.

*A word about Megan and shaving: Now shaving for me has always been an unpleasant task. I am told my family is descended from the “dark Irish” hence our darker complexion and hair color. I am more inclined to believe that based on the amount of body hair I have, I am actually descended from an Irish Wolfhound. Okay, so I hadn’t shaved in a while. Okay, so the fabric of my black stretch pants hadn’t actually come in contact with skin in 120 days–but I hadn’t caught a cold or had the flu either–the furry pelt I sported successfully kept me warm and sniffle-free.

So, after three days filled with tweezing, bleaching, and tanning, my worst night mare began. The “shopping” experience was brutally painful–trying clothes on, taking my shoes off, then putting them back on as we search for the skirt that makes my ass “look so yummy,” dressing room after dressing room…
“No we don’t buy pants here, we have to go to another store for those.”
“I wouldn’t be caught dead in the shoes they have here, but isn’t that the cutest halter top ever?”

AAAHHH, my shopping experiences of the past 4 months had consisted only of trips to 7-11 to buy Ben and Jerry pints–necessary for maximum viewing pleasure of the hit show “The Biggest Loser.”

The make-over was capped off by a visit to a tattoo parlor (but I ask you, really, is any visit to New Jersey complete without one?) For those of you who as yet are unfamiliar with this ancient, sacred ritual of viewing the human form as a canvas and stabbing the skin with a needle injected with dye, let me tell you: it frigging hurts.

At last, I was deemed “ready.” Ready for what, you might be wondering?…Ready to have my photo taken–(other moms know that when you‘re raising a family, you are the official photo TAKER–memory MAKER and probably the last decent picture someone took of you is in your wedding album.) Okay now, I know I said that shopping was my worst nightmare–I lied, having my picture taken is worse. I said shopping was the worst because in terms of sheer woman hours shopping is endless–like labor for your first child. Having your picture taken is more like having a rectal exam–relatively quick, but painful AND embarrassing.

Okay, so my photo was taken in the garden, on the porch, in the mirror, in the house, right side, left side, full face, face up, face down, (As Mitch Hedberg said, “Looking slightly to the left”) behind the garden, on the trampoline–pensive looks, happy, smiling looks, smiling with teeth showing, smiling with no teeth showing, grinning (And since I interpreted grinning as the same as smiling with no teeth showing, “It’s not the same thing at all!! You can imagine how this was going) smirking (“Look like you know a secret.” “Hey fellas, wanna know my secret???? I hate having my frigging picture taken.”) The endless changing of the outfits–my sister called them “poutfits” because I kept complaining every time I was asked to put on a new one.

3,250 photos later, we found two, yes two, I kid you not, that were acceptable. I’m not photogenic–in my next life I’m coming back as a vampire* so I don’t have to deal with this photo crap again. One of the “acceptable photos” was of me, in the garden, with a “knowing smirk.” The other was an ‘inside the house shot, looking left, donning a pensive, yet knowing grin that showed only my bicuspids’.  Awesome!

*Vampires, typically do not photograph or have reflections in a mirror.

My adventure was deemed a success. I now was the proud owner of blondish, reddish hair with lowlights and highlights (Why both lowlights AND highlights? Couldn’t we just do lowlights and then my regular color would step up and “act” as the highlights? Or else could my hair be reinterpreted as a lowlight counter to applied highlights? Folks, I’m a simple caveman here, help me out. ) My hair was teased up so high it touched the interior roof of my car. I had nail tips (Press On!) with French manicure, matching toes (I did say “stop” when my toenails were next up for nail tips.) A form-fitting outfit that was so tight, I had to unclip my seatbelt any time I wanted to inhale. Now, please do not think me ungrateful. My New Jersey Housewife worked tirelessly for three days to help me attain the status of “okay to be seen in public.” As I loaded my car with the many boxes and bags filled with clothes, cosmetics, razors, shoes and faux tanners, I was also given a special parting gift– a handbook of “rules” for living well in the next chapter of my life: I’ll spare you all the rules, but here are the top three:

1. Imagine that if you leave your house without applying a full face of make-up, you will spontaneously combust (though in NJ speak– it really read “…you will f****in’ blow the f*** up.”

2. Imagine that if you leave your house wearing sneakers, sweat pants or any other item of clothing that includes an elastic waistband, you will … “f***in’ blow the f*** up.”

3. Imagine that if you leave your house without having plucked, shaved or waxed all hair that falls outside “the lady lines” (these were lines my sister had drawn on my body using permanent marker–outlining my bikini, underarm, moustache, and legs–including upper thigh areas) “you will…” Well, you get the idea.

I was on my way…

…Next up…Match.justshootmeplease or “Rejected by the Guy in the Beanie” or “Just How Many is a Few Extra Pounds?”