Recently I had a lively discussion with a girlfriend about our pregnancies (20+ years ago). She reminisced dreamily about the “new life growing inside of her” and how she’ll always remember how protective and maternal she felt while she and Hubs, who constantly assured her she never looked more beautiful, would sit for hours rubbing her swollen belly and cooing baby-talk to the unborn but obviously most amazing child ever created.
My pregnancy sucked. I gained roughly the body weight of an entire 6th grader, I had teenage acne at 33, everything but brownies made me puke, and I waddled like an overstuffed Christmas goose. I did not “glow,” and Hubs never once told me I looked beautiful (which was fair, because I was fat, not stupid, and I would’ve known he was lying, instantly vaporizing all future credibility about how I looked at any given moment).
Suffice it to say that my fantasy of pregnancy didn’t pass The Reality Test. Which got me to thinking how many things are better left to our imaginations. The “Great Ideas” that don’t always play out exactly the way we pictured it in our heads. Here are my Top 10:
1. Big dogs. Big dogs have power, presence, and through-the-roof cool factor. Big dogs also shed the equivalent of a small goat pretty much daily and love to sleep in the people bed, banishing you to the outer edges of the mattress, inhaling dog hair with every breath. Their poops are the size of small cats and can cause nasty, prolonged neighbor wars if Fido decides the grass is greener across the street. Unsupervised, they’ll polish off the entire Christmas ham while you’re pouring the wine, and the vet bills could send your firstborn to Yale for a year.
2. Stilettos. Mutually agreed by both sexes to make the female leg look longer and sexier. For the uninitiated, they can also cause unsexy and embarrassing face plants, ankle sprains, and heels snapped off in street grates.
3. Being broke and in love. I heard a couple sigh and wistfully remember “the good old days” when they were first married and ate cold pizza every night while sitting on the floor because they were so broke, and wasn’t it wonderful? Horse hooey. Being broke is neither romantic nor fun. Ask any broke person. It sucks. Missing the intensity and wonder of new love? Understandable. Missing not being able to pay your bills? Yeah, no.
4. Jogging. Whenever I see sneaker ads for fabulously fit women jogging down a gorgeous, tree-lined path, I develop a sudden urge to lace up and hit the pavement. Then I remember that she is a 22-year-old model, with all her body parts firmly in place, while I’m a 57-year-old grandmother, whose jogging reality includes underarms flapping like undies on a clothes line, ass bouncing like my boobs used to before gravity made them flying beagle ears, and thighs are counting my steps by slamming together with each stride. No. Just no.
5. Expensive new cars. It’s beautiful, it smells good, the seats are heated, and the dashboard is lit up like a 747. And it’s only $450 a month. You could do it. But in 6 months, the back seat will be the world’s largest Crayola box with enough spilled Goldfish to feed your kids for 2 days, your Great Dane will have chosen the passenger seat to hawk up the family gerbil, and the trunk will be a laundry basket for muddy soccer uniforms for kids you don’t even know. And you’ll still be paying $450 a month.
6. FSBO. “For Sale By Owner.” How hard can it be? Why pay a realtor $30,000 to just to walk some strangers through your master bedroom? Stick a sign out in the yard and sell it yourself. Yes, this has worked for some people. We got a steady stream of lookie-loos (“Oh, I’ve always wanted to see the inside of this house!” Now you have. Get out), unqualified buyers (“Gee, we’ve always wanted a house like this, but we can’t afford it yet.” Then why are you here??), entire families (with dogs and kids) with ridiculous offers that could only presume we must be in foreclosure (we weren’t).
7. Camping. Tried it. Hated it. Strap two day’s worth of living gear onto your back, hike into the woods, ignoring the bugs and avoiding the poison oak, sleep on the ground, eat dinner off a stick, and bathe in freezing cold water. I know our ancestors used to do this all the time. Then they invented hotels.
8. Sex every night. Great when you’re young, newly in love, and living on adrenaline. Years later, sleep becomes a more precious commodity than sex. Occasional, but still great, sex keeps the marriage tingling, while “Get off me” (uttered by either party) quickly assures the required eight hours of sleep that will get us through the next work day.
9. Total honesty. I’m not advocating lying. But as we get older, we learn that total, unqualified honesty can tank a relationship faster than you can say “Yes, in fact, I am attracted to your sister.” If I ask, “Do you like my new haircut?” (noting I can’t glue it back on if you say “Not particularly”), a simple “Yes” is appropriate. And the timeless classic “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?” is ALWAYS answered with “That’s not possible.” Sometimes you just need to tell me what I want to hear.
10. Winning the lottery. We’ve all thought about it. And maybe winning a cool million would be fabulous. But who the hell needs $420 million?? Your life would never be your own, and anyone you don’t share it with now hates you. Except the tax man. He loves you. Forever. There’s got to be an better way.
Some fantasies are great realities. Others become epic fails, but make great stories around the dinner table for our kids. In the meantime, do these jeans make my butt look fat?