Third grade was a good year. I had a teacher I adored, friends weren’t sassy, my hair had not yet been attacked by an at home perm and math was still easy.
Ah, the joys of being 8.
It was also the year my parents tried to instill a life of proper living into their youngest daughter. That’s me, by the way. I’m the youngest of 4 girls. Mom and Dad won’t admit it, but I’m pretty sure they wanted me to be a boy. My two blue baby blankets (say that 10 times fast) might have revealed that hidden secret.
Surprise! It’s another girl!
To which I say, “You’re welcome!”
But back to the proper living thing.
We were on the east coast visiting my sister. It was my first time in an airplane. I even got one of those fancy TWA wings for my first flight. Do you remember those? Mom dressed me in a skirt and shirt straight out of 1990. It matched my older sister’s outfit, of course, because it’s cool for a 5th grader and a 3rd grader to match (not anymore, friends. Not anymore). Dad even wore jeans we dubbed, “cool jeans.” Think – nice farmer meets stone washed city boy – jeans.
That was the only time I saw dad in that get- up.
We made many stops on our journey. One of our stops was a restaurant that couldn’t have been fancy (I remember taking home the napkins and a coloring sheet left at my seat) but it felt important then, especially since I was learning proper etiquette techniques.
“Place your napkin on your lap, Leslie.”
“Feet don’t belong on the table, Leslie.”
We all laughed. It was a great memory. Here’s the thing I remember most about that meal and about that trip. It didn’t matter that we were in this cool city, staying at a fancy hotel and eating at restaurants that didn’t include the word tavern in them. What mattered is that I was with family I loved and I was able to be myself. I didn’t have to act fancy, which is good, because acting fancy doesn’t work well with me.
Here’s another example of fancy meets Leslie. Let’s go back to last weekend for this one.
I was attending a beautiful bridal shower for a dear friend. It was similar to one my mother would host, full of china settings and dainty food. If you didn’t know me (and many in the room didn’t) one might even find me fancy.
Until I used tongs to pick up grapes off the brunch buffet and watched said grapes plop into my coffee mug below.
I kept the grapes in my coffee because it seemed less than proper to dig them out. That was a good idea, until my coffee was gone and I found two purple grapes starring me in the face.
Yes, I ate them. No, no one knew. Until now, of course, since I’m sharing this story with you fine folks.
Life is one big Saturday Night Live skit, isn’t it? Think about it. Think about the proper situations you find yourself in. Business meetings, holiday gatherings, church and work, it’s all a chance for flawed people to get together and show their best side.
But the real best side, I’m willing to bet, is what takes place after the event, when your stomach is full and your face hurts from laughing. When you go home, put on those sweatpants and get cozy with the ones you love. When you let down your guard and allow people to see your true self. That’s when life gets good.
My parents tried to teach me how to be proper and I’ve even attempted to act that way at times. But they know this Thanksgiving, all of my sisters (none of us ended up being boys) will walk into their home and be loud, (we can’t help it) drink too much wine, (obviously) and probably get into an argument. We aren’t perfect but we do love each other. And I’d rather be with flawed humans any day, that those who act like someone they’re not.
Cause friends, let’s face it. We’re all just two purple grapes away from showing our true self.
This Thanksgiving, let your guard down, unbutton your pants, put your feet up and spend time with good people who love you for you, and not the fancy you pretend to be.