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MORE secrets from The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual



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dumpFace it, it’s no fun, and we’ve all been there… unless you’re one of those who’s married your elementary school sweetheart and have no experience whatsoever with the words:

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

…which everyone (except you) knows actually mean: “It’s not you, I’m an asshole.”

There are a zillion different scenarios, which I won’t delve into here. For instance, the kind where you see it coming: he’s phoning less and less. Your stomach lurches every time you look at your cell phone and notice all the little green arrows. Huh. Every time you see his number, YOU called HIM.

Bad. Bad sign.

SO…. you start getting a little pissier each time you DO talk. HE doesn’t want to call someone who’s always pissy. Would you? Things spiral downhill from there… yet somehow… when the big fat DUMP comes…

Surprise! (was it me? what did I do? why doesn’t he want to have babies with me? wait – I don’t WANT babies. wait – was it me – wait. WHAT?) All you say, however, is just a quiet, emotionless: “Okay.” Sometimes your back stiffens and you get a little formal, and you might give him two whole words: “That’s fine.” 

The big fat LURCH in your stomach comes up– and sometimes, later, even the contents of your stomach itself.

The point is, he or she doesn’t want you anymore, despite all your brilliant qualities, your sparkling conversation, your cool emoticons, nifty predictive texting, and the Brainbone Awards gleaming on your Facebook Page.

So you’ve eaten three and a half Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch tubs. And the Family Size Bag of Fun-Size Snickers. And the loaf of toast, with Thousand Island dressing dipping sauce, when everything else was gone.

You’ve called in sick, so you could surf the Web all day. You’re struggling to resist e-mailing him, and as you’re trying to distract yourself, you find yourself on WikiHow.com, seeing if you can teach yourself how to pull off a Denial of Service Attack Hack on his web site, or if you would get caught if you learned how to program a Trojan Virus that would wipe him out of existence, or at least write your name over and over on his screensaver.

But you know, from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual that you were handed in the cigarette-smoke filled bathrooms in school that you will not do any of these things.

It’s okay to fantasize epic revenge, of course. In fact, now’s as good a time as any: Here, I’ll help you: 

Go ahead, you can’t be judged by your thoughts, only by your actions; let’s get it out of your system, and then you’ll be free. C’mon, you can do it. You know you want to. Yeah, see? I see you smiling. 

You see him, don’t you? Old, and alone. Your picture, clasped in his bony, fragile hand, his other hand, trembling and thin, raised to his sobbing, thickly creased face. Your young, beautiful face is partially obscured by his many past tears, it is obvious. The room he is in is dark and cold, and an old, tattered blanket rests across his wheelchair. You can just barely hear his voice call your name, in a throaty voice profound with regret – then you hear the nurses behind him, whispering more loudly amongst themselves: “Poor bastard. He’s been like this for years. All he’ll ever say is her name.”

There, now. Don’t you feel better? Now, get over yourself.

NOW:

You WILL:

Stoically behave as if you do not care; it’s not as if anyone can actually HURT a superwoman such as yourself.

You WILL:

Casually toss your hair back, as if moving onto the next dance partner at the waltz, your crinoline waving around you in a graceful cloud.

You WILL:

Gently (so as not to further damage the delicate skin under your eyes) clear those dark smudgy puddles of mascara and tears, and max out your cards at the Esteé Lauder counter so you will look even MORE fabulous. You are allowed to get your eyebrows waxed, perhaps a mani-pedi, but you are NOT allowed for the next four to six months to cut your hair. You are WAY too vulnerable.

You WILL:

Embrace “THE CONCEPTS.”

  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  2. He doesn’t deserve me.
  3. I was too good for him.

You will NOT:

Wander aimlessly through the 7-11, absently muttering “ASShole,” loudly enough to offend innocent passersby.

You will NOT:

Jam your car into Drive, or into Park, hard enough to do enough damage to cost you actual money, because it will most certainly not be said asshole who will be paying for it now, will it?

You will NOT:

Get dolled up and go alone to a fancy bar – or worse, a dive bar – just for the comforts of flirtation or free drinks. Do I really need to explain why THIS is a bad idea?

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

And, this bears repeating, because you WILL be sorely tempted: 
YOU WILL NOT, I repeat, NOT, CUT YOUR HAIR. Maybe – and only if a unanimous decision is approved by your closest friends – consider a color change or highlights, but ONLY IF DONE PROFESSIONALLY. 

YOU WILL:

Recall that as The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual gets scribbled over during your lifetime with jotted notes, footnotes, and Post-Its, it evolves, somehow, into the Not-So-Fucking-Secret-Mutually-Supportive-I’m-Here-For-You-Sister-Woman’s Manual, and you learn:

THE CONCEPTS are actually TRUE.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea. The thing is, those fish are the people who really DO love you: your family, your kids, your friends – your guy friends, too, who come in really handy at a time like this – and your best girlfriends, who are AWESOME, and to whom you CAN mutter “ASShole” as loudly as you like, and they will set up a cheer squad for you, complete with pyramid.

If he’s foolish enough to dump you, he probably DIDN’T deserve you, and you WERE too good for him, so do YOURSELF a favor, and move on – it’s actually the best thing for you, because moving on, having no revenge at all, ironically turns out to be the best revenge of all –

… because men always want what they can’t have.

If you move on, have yourself a good old life, happy with yourself, you just MIGHT haunt them forever as the one that got away.

It won’t bother YOU.

You’ll be too busy fighting the rest of the fish off with a stick.

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Embarrassment? I’m Bulletproof.


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Elizabeth Williams Bushey in concertI’m a grownup. That means I can eat frosting right out of the can if I want to. (Yes, I said the CAN. Is there anyone who still makes homemade frosting? Okay, then, you probably aren’t a parent with a job. And if you ARE a parent with a job, and you still make homemade frosting, and get everything else done you’re supposed to do, then you must be my very nice, but gobmackingly perfect sister. Please forward a package of your frosting in one of your gazillion extra organizing tubs.)

I have a vehicle. I can drive to the mall anytime I please. I’ve got a cell phone, too, complete with a butterfly charm from the Icing at the Galleria. How cool am I? I have a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, and I rock with it. I even perform onstage. With a real wireless headset mike. (Testing. 1, 2, 3…) I am SOOOO AWESOME.

Oh, wait, I forgot – I’m the Dork of the Universe.

I’m someone’s mom.

Please do NOT TALK TO MY FRIENDS, MOM.

Please do NOT KISS ME, MOM.

Please DO NOT EMBARRASS ME, MOM.

Now: I, my own self, am nearly impossible to embarrass, being a rather outspoken, outgoing sort. (Anyone who sings in public doesn’t exactly have a low embarrassment threshold.) But one does have to remember what it’s like to NOT be a grownup.

We were in McDonald’s, happily enjoying our happy meals.

“Mom!” Urgency crept into my daughters’ voices – an alarm so deep I wondered for a moment if an armed gunman had entered the establishment.

I bent my head, the better to hear their agonized whispers.

“Ourfriendfromschooljustwalkedin. PLEASE DON’T EMBARRASS US.”

Okay. I don’t mind being considered a dork by my kids, even though in reality, I’m fairly cool. They’re supposed to think I’m a dork. I’m the one teaching them right from wrong, sending them to bed, etc. If they DID think I was cool, I’d be messing up.

But there I was, sitting quietly in McDonalds – a restaurant I don’t even like all that much – minding my business, not doing any of the things they generally hate, like talking to their teachers, or their friends’ parents, or performing.

I’ll admit my baser instincts got the better of me. C’mon, we all – a little bit – hate it that our kids don’t know how cool we really are, don’t we? Don’t we all wish, deep down in our black hearts, that our kids could have seen just how awesome we really are?

“You would have WANTED to be my friend when I was your age!”

Isn’t that sometimes what you want to shout? “You would have thought I was cool THEN!”

So, more than a little peeved about accusations before actions, I stood up.

“You mean, embarrass you by doing something like… dancing to no music at all?”

I began to dance. Slowly, deliberately… embarrassingly.

“Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, Mom, pleasepleaseplease sit down, I’m begging you!”

“Something like this? Is THIS what you’re afraid I might do? Or maybe…”

“MOM!”

I sat down with a smirk. “Eat your dinner. She didn’t see.” She didn’t. Naturally I was watching. I DO take care not to embarrass them. Whenever possible.

I do recall that feeling when you’re a kid. Grownups realize everyone else in the universe is so wrapped up in themselves that they’re not paying anywhere NEAR the amount of attention you once thought they were. But kids are still the center of their own universes – the heroes of their own movies, and everyone else is a cameo player.

Extreme self-consciousness is so vivid, so much a part of your life, that any hair out of place, any fold in the cloth of your shirt, any label that’s not up-to-the-minute current makes you feel like a pariah.

You know you’re a real grownup when you realize the “pariahs” – the ones who dance to their own music – are who make the world so very, very interesting.

Kids love McDonald’s because it’s predictable; it’s always exactly the same chicken nuggets, precisely four, precisely cookie-cuttered into the same eerie, unnatural shape.

We grow when we peek beyond the predictable, to investigate: who that is dancing around the corner?

Look: no, really. Look.

(photo credit: © 2006 Tom Bushey)

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The Wondrous Vulva Puppet.


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The Wondrous Vulva PuppetThis is The Wondrous Vulva Puppet, brought to my attention by — of all people — my 11-year-old, Heaven help us all.

My first thought: now I’ve seen everything.

My immediate second thought? I haven’t. This tomfoolery is, in all likelihood, merely the tip of a mammoth iceberg of absurdity. I am but a hapless explorer, beginning a trek into a world of goofiness, a cartographer mapping out a journey to the center of silliness.

Armageddon rapidly recedes into the far distant future. Who would rain hellfire onto a universe festooned with such buffoonery?

Daughter: Mom?

Me: (busy, only half-listening): Um?

Daughter: In my Seventeen and my CosmoGirl magazines, they both have sections about … Australia.

Me: (still deeply involved in making the Internet safe for satire) Um-hmm.

Daughter: You know what I mean when I say “Australia,” right?

Me: (still attempting to phone in this conversation) A country inhabited by very outdoorsy, enthusiastic people with charming but difficult-to-mimic-accurately accents?

Daughter: (clearing throat) I mean “down there,” Ma.

Me: (whipping my swivel chair around way too quickly to achieve the cool, casual effect I’m striving for) Really? That’s, um…

Daughter: Anyway, I wanted to show you this page.

Me: (swiveling back to be handed the page you see on the left, and to be flabbergasted into speechlessness.)

Daughter: Are you mad?

Me: No! Of course not. No! Of course not. No! It’s… well… it’s SORT of natural… (Flapping around for the right thing to say, I reach for Old Reliable.) How do YOU feel about it?

Daughter: (who is by far the more mature and calm of this pair in just about all matters) I find it informative, but graphic and disturbing.

(Keen, accurate and precise. All those “omit needless words” I keep writing on her papers are paying off.)

I’m wondering, except for the part of me that would make my mother (but not my grandmother) blush, why exactly this thing has to be a puppet? I mean, as a puppeteer myself, I’m curious about the mechanics of the contraption. Do you stick your hand in, and make the lips move so The Wondrous VP can say things?

To whom?

What would it say?

Would it thank your hormones, as Seventeen Magazine suggests in the May 2008 issue, and I quote: “Dear Estrogen: Thanks for girly hips and breasts, plus strong bones, clear skin, and a better mood.”

Or this missive: “Dear Progesterone: Thanks for keeping periods coming, so I know I’m healthy and maturing into a woman.”

If I were going to write a letter to my hormones, it would read more like this:

“Thanks for turning me into a fried-chocolate eating, temper-tantrum-throwing, moody psychotic as often as Lon Chaney the werewolf has to strap himself into a chair, avoiding the curse of the full moon. REALLY appreciate that. OH: plus, I love that I’m out of the pool on all those 400-degree days. That’s terrific. Almost as fabulous as the bloating, the cramping and the headaches. But one more thing, in all earnestness – I do seriously appreciate you keeping my butt out of unflattering white pants.”

Although I probably should add that I truly am grateful that I don’t have man-hair on my face, or burly arms, or some hormonal disorder (although that thyroid thing that makes you super-thin would be tough to turn down. Wait: is thyroid hormones, or endocrine-something? Or are they the same? I forget. I’m a writer, not a doctor, Captain.)

At any rate, should you, Constant Reader, wish to own a Wondrous Vulva Puppet your very own self, you can! (Seventeen is VERY big on the bang – the exclamation point, my most hated of all punctuation marks!)

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT (the link, anyway):
For only $125, not including shipping and handling, you can have your choice of seven – count ’em seven – colors, featuring Classy Claret (that’s CLASSY Claret, mind you), and your choice of Ravishing Red or Regal Red, in case one red isn’t enough. There’s even one in Gorgeous Gold. And one with silver lips. Oooh, fancy. It’s at a site called Yoni.com (in their “Healing Gifts” section), but be warned: it’s an adult site, with DEFINITELY adult content.

END: ADULT CONTENT

So now you’ve been introduced to The Wondrous Vulva Puppet, and now, like me, you’ll be tormented with the phrase for days: like a song you can’t get out of your head, you’ll be repeating the phrase over and over in your mind: Wondrous Vulva Puppet, Wondrous Vulva Puppet…

Pass it on. Or not.

(photo: Page from Seventeen Magazine, May 2008 )

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