When setting off on an adventure into uncharted waters, it’s good to have a compass, a sack of food, and some good drugs. However, the most important thing to have, are travel companions who can help you figure out how to use your compass, and who you can share your food and drugs with.
I’m very proud and lucky to know two extremely smart and homesteading-savvy women–without their help, guidance, and merciless teasing, I would probably be floating on a barge of cat hair and kleenex, somewhere north of the Pacific.
One day, Julie and I took a trip to the beach. The plan was to meet at her house, and she would drive us there. By the time I showed up at her house, I’d lost a flip-flop along the way, spilled gatorade in my lap, and my sunscreen exploded on the train, covering everything in my beach bag with oily goop. Meanwhile, Julie had both of her beach bags packed neatly and efficiently, according to logical ease of access. She was also dressed appropriately for the beach, and had packed extra layers, for when it gets cold.
“Drat, I forgot to bring something warm for later,” I said, knowing I’d forgotten something.
“Do you wanna borrow an extra hoodie, mama?” Asked Julie.
‘Sure, that’d be great,” I said, fishing out some soggy store receipts from my bag.
“Here you go. Just please don’t wipe boogers on it, okay?”
“Of course. And thank you.”
Speaking of appropriate clothing–Julie is also one of the most smartly dressed people you’ll ever meet. She is, in fact, my style hero. No matter what the occasion, or weather, she always has the right thing on, and the right things packed in anticipation of weather changes. Generally, she’ll wear nice slacks, librarian shoes, and knit sweaters that fit her perfectly BECAUSE SHE KNITTED THEM HERSELF. Julie believes that one should always be smartly dressed in public, as it raises society to a more respectable level. Through her guidance, and gentle ribbing, I too, have stopped wearing overly squishy things in public. I put together an outfit. Then, I check my outfit for stains, rumples, and hairballs before I leave the house. And I always pack a scarf.
Julie eats her food in neat little bites and doesn’t wolf it down like a barbarian and get big grease stains on her titty.
If you go to Julie’s yuppie house, you’ll be hard pressed to find any dirt whatsoever. (Although she went through a weird stage where she was collecting cat fur in a jar for mysterious reasons.) When her mom comes to visit Julie ritually CLEANS THE BLINDS. This means, no matter how neat Julie is, her mom is clearly in a category beyond.
Julie says she can’t abide by chaos and disorder–she hates housework but makes herself do it because the end result is sanity. And, after my come to jesus moment with cleaning, I have to agree with her: organized, and clean is best.
Adriana is the wizard of all things homesteading related. Really, she should be like a yogi or something, and sit in a shrine doing bong rips while being visited by various spazzers, clumsy acolytes, and greasy barbarians.
“Adriana…I just bought a mini bottle of fernet, and can’t open it. I want to smash it!”
“Get a rubber band and wrap it around the top. And zip up your fly for pete sake.“
”Adriana….How do I put a comforter cover on a comforter?”
“My child. simply turn the comforter inside out. Hold it at the corners. Then shake it down over the comforter.”
“Adriana. How do I organize the lids of my pots and pans so they don’t fall on my head all the time?”
“Young grasshopper. Simply buy a dish rack, and arrange them in there.”
When you crash at Adriana’s house because you got too loaded, she will have clean sheets for you, and a clean towel. And a toothbrush. She won’t hand you something that smells musty, or give you a glass of water with a dried lentil floating in it. If you run out of toilet paper in her bathroom, there is a fresh roll waiting on a shelf, within reaching distance. You won’t have to shuffle to the other side of the bathroom with your chonies down, and dripping pee everywhere. She really thinks of everything. I fucking love that woman.
My Reality Show Starring Me
Me: Guys, I feel like I’m in a reality show right now.
Adriana: You are. It’s called “your life.”
Makeover style shows generally suck. This is because the people doing the makeovers are not your friends, they are entertainers. After the show, when you wobble home in your Jimmy Chu’s and pleated capris, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I look like an asshole” the producers of the show are clinking glasses, smiling into their coke mirrors, and celebrating another successful show.
If you decide to do a home or personal style makeover (and I’ve done both now!) you want to choose people you really trust, and who you can rely on to be completely honest with you. Because let’s face it–you can’t grow into the best person you can be, if you can’t accept honest criticism here and there from your loved ones. Likewise, you aren’t being a good friend when you offer only empty praise and say “That’s awesommmmmme” to every nit-wit thing your friends say or do. You are only keeping them small, and in the dark. We have a duty to each other, as human beings, to gently guide and corral behaviors when necessary. Not everything we do is “awesome” and deserving of praise. I know, in the Bay Area, we tend to discourage shame and shaming. Which is, well, a shame, because people should feel more ashamed. Especially those who wear pajamas in public and walk too slow in the train station. Without shame, what’s to stop us from throwing poop at each other like monkeys, and making whoopee to moving buses? Shame, when used conservatively, is actually quite useful to maintain accountability. Take a moment now, to feel some shame. Let your cheeks get rosy. It’s good for you.
Anyway, In light of the bedroom makeover, and the subsequent clothes shopping makeover, my friends and I created a friendship philosophy around being truly honest with each other about shit, and it’s come in handy for more than just makeovers–it’s just a good all around way of respecting your loved ones:
THE GENTLE PIMP HAND **
This philosophy of the gentle pimp hand, follows a five finger approach. When embarking on any kind of make-over expedition, road trip, or other deeply personal endeavor with someone, consider each finger of the gentle pimp hand, before deciding who to take with you on your journey.
Does this person love you? Do you even know what love is? Are you a rock or an island? I can’t answer that for you. But if thou have a slightest doubt then don’t choose this person for your make-over.
“They are not my friends. They’re like my co-workers and our job is being, like… popular and shit.”
-Winona Ryder from the movie Heathers.
There are “friends” and there are Friends. Some people you hang out with because they are fun, or help you get laid because they are attractive. Or because they have access to the best drugs. Other people, you trust with your life. They’ve seen you vomiting in your purse and falling down from heartbreak, and they still embraced you. You’ve confessed things they have not repeated on Facebook. They check in on you when you’re down, or sick.
Here’s how Adriana lays it out.
“If your friend has spinach in her teeth, you’re doing her no favors by remaining quiet about it. You are only embarrassing her further. Yes, it will be embarrassing when you tell her, but think how embarrassing it could be if you DON’T. “
So, if your friend squeezes into a tube top and resembles a keilbasa, there is a way to tell her that will still allow her to retain her dignity and prevent her from buying the tube top. Remember: your friend’s unflattering clothing choices are like spinach in her teeth.
Nothing should be taken too seriously. ESPECIALLY not makeovers. Your friends should be able to tease you and you should also be able to make fun of yourself. Like the time I went clothes shopping with Adriana and Julie:
Humor is such an undervalued, but necessary part of the makeover process. Please remember that you’re supposed to be having fun. No matter what you’re doing.
Once you’ve found your one or two friends who you know have your best interest at heart, and who aren’t trying to make you into someone you’re NOT and who only wish to see you rocking what you got THEN YOU MUST OBEY THEM.
Giving up control is hard for many people. At first it will be weird and you’ll want to fight them. Eventually, you just submit to their gentle pimp hand. That actually makes it easy—if you can’t submit, then perhaps one of the fingers is still missing from the pimp hand. Time to have a sandwich, and re-examine.
Here’s an example of the gentle pimp hand in motion :
Prior to going clothes shopping with me for the first time, Adriana gave Julie a pre-game pep talk, because Julie was feeling a little nervous about the possibility of having to tell me something I picked out doesn’t look good, and hurting my feelings. We women care much about hurting feelings. Maybe a little too much.
“Okay Julie. Here’s the deal. At some point in time, while shopping, Arlene will probably try on something way too small and do her best to convince you that it’s sexy. Your job is to gently, but directly let her know that it does not fit her. Guide her to more appropriately sized clothing. You can do it. Keep your pimp hand strong!”
Sure enough, I found a clingy pencil skirt that day at H&M that made my jelly jiggle.
“Wow, look at my ass in this thing!” I said, twerking and spanking myself. “Amazing! This is hot!”
Julie was quiet for a moment. She cleared her throat. “Don’t you think it’s a little, well, er….small?” She asked.
“Yeah, sure, it’s tight. But it’s tight HOT.”
“I don’t think it’s the right size for you.”
“Aw come on,” I said, waggling my booty. “You know you want some of this, huh, HUH?”
“You have a fantastic ass, mama. I just think it would look better in a skirt that actually fit you.
Then I stopped. I noticed the elastic on the skirt was, in fact, digging into my vital organs. And I had a little difficulty walking. Well, okay, a lot.
“You can still find a hot skirt, but in your size.”
“Awright.” I grumbled. “You are right.”
I am lucky, and blessed, as I said, to know people who I trust enough to help scrub the mystery stains from my walls. To help purge the torn flannels and half-stuffed railroad hobos from my closet. To bring with me into the dressing room while I try on endless bras. Were it not for my friends and their gentle pimp hands, I might still be safety pinning my pants, and mopping my floors by skating around the kitchen on clorox wipes.
And on this note, I’m going to turn over the next post–for the most part! to Adriana and Julie. They will help me tell the story of the Great Birthday Bedroom Makeover–one of the best, and joyfully humiliating days of my life.
**SENSITIVITY NOTE: I understand the violence, and abuse that real pimps inflict. I do not mean to make light of this abuse. However, I am re-claiming this word. It’s okay if women (and men) who love each other, are each others gentle pimps in a tough love friendship. Please realize that, though the pimp hand is often firm, and sometimes even stings, it is NEVER abusive. If you feel humiliated or wounded by your friend pimps, then go to a safe place and hide. Then, find some new friends.