Last Word: Friends Say The Darndest Things

When I was 12, my best childhood friend told me that I had the biggest butt of all the sixth-graders at Kennedy Elementary School.

While I admittedly had some extra square footage in the basement as a prepubescent, and could probably fit a pool table on it even now, there were at least a couple of other people more deserving of the award, even if I did qualify for honorable mention.

In high school, a different friend cleverly modified the words to the old Hollies song “Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress” and instead sang the words “Short, Fat Woman in a Black Dress” to me as we were getting ready to go out one night.

To be fair, after telling her to go casual, I broke out a dress I could’ve worn to the Oscars, hoping to one-up her with a “Oh, this old thing? I found it in the back of my closet.”

Even though I probably deserved it, some 30-odd years later the refrain still plays in my head every time I pull on a black dress or if I hear the song on the radio.

I can’t help but wonder why my menopausal memory loss, which has been so efficient in ensuring that I routinely forget most appointments along with anything vital at the grocery store, hasn’t seen fit to erase a snarky comment made before I was old enough to vote.

Regardless, I’ve since earned the right to vote and, according to a long-time friend, my hair has too.

While out to dinner recently, she looked at me over the bread basket before bluntly declaring, “Your hair is so — adult.”

Confused, I asked what she meant.

“Well, you know,” she said, “before your hair was kind of messy. And now it’s… adult.”

This same person told me once, without preamble, that I smelled like bologna and on a different occasion asked me, across a room full of people, if I was wearing a bra, because, either way, it didn’t look like it.

Immediately following, I purchased some padded bras, and after giving the “adult” hair some thought, I’ve concluded that it’s probably not a bad thing that my messy tresses have now earned the right to enlist in the military, legally buy alcohol and perhaps apply for a mortgage.

Still, based on her comment, it’s hard to know if prior to my last salon appointment, I was channeling Medusa, or that my latest haircut makes me look like Betty White.

I’ve learned that friends aren’t the only ones happy to provide uninvited feedback; family members are just as, if not more, willing to offer up their unfiltered thoughts.

Not long ago, my dad studied me before telling me that as I’ve aged, I look more and more like his deceased aunts.

I’m not really sure how to take this, considering that the only picture I’ve ever seen of them is a grainy, black-and-white photo of a group of hostile, Czechoslovakian women, with furrowed brows and rough, square-jawlines. Outside of the hostile, furrow-browed, square-jaw part, I just don’t see the resemblance.

I’ve doled out plenty of my own foot-in-mouth observations, too.

In middle school, I earnestly told my best friend that the only reason she liked the Eurhythmics’ song “Sweet Dreams” was because she just wasn’t smart enough to appreciate better music.

And my mom likes to remind me of the time that as a kid I barged into her room while she was getting dressed and proclaimed, “Wow. You need to lose weight.”

I like to believe that I’ve come a long way since then and make an effort to think about what I say before it leaves my lips, just in case someone isn’t actually interested in knowing my opinion on their pants-size or that I completely disdain their taste in ’80s music.

I also do my best to understand that, like me, people sometimes say stupid stuff without realizing that telling someone that they smell like sandwich meat might not be considered a compliment.

As far as my hair is concerned, I don’t mind that it’s matured. With any luck, now that it’s an adult, maybe it’ll help pay some bills.

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