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'Look bad and they will come'

Remember that saying from the classic movie “Field of Dreams” — “Build it and they will come?”Julie McGuire

I am muttering a similar phrase quite a bit these days whenever I’m out of the house without a stitch of makeup on and I unexpectedly run into every friend or person that I have met in my entire life.

I have decided that somewhere in my body I must possess a large, hidden magnet that attracts people only when I am looking my absolute worst. Thus, my new phrase: “Look bad and they will come.”

Today was a perfect day to go out and tackle some much-needed gardening. I threw on my tackiest clothing, put my hair in a hat and ignored my makeup counter. I gave myself a quick once over as I made my way out the door and I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I even paused and asked myself if I dared to greet the outside world this way. Therefore, I had a conversation with myself: “Self, you are looking pretty bad today.”

I answered, of course, which is scary though often it’s the most entertaining conversation I’ve had in weeks: “Yes, apparently, spring vacation cannot come soon enough. You are either very brave or very lazy to walk outside these doors.”

“Look bad and they will come.”

Needless to say, I saw everyone.

I saw my girlfriend, whom I haven’t seen in more than a year, walking her dog. She ran over to talk to me and I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that she looked terrific. Five minutes later another dear friend walked up to me accompanied by her mother who was in town visiting. Of course, I had not seen both of them in ages. The pair of them looked completely pulled together and joyous and it nauseated me.  

I wanted to bury myself in the pile of leaves I was sweeping. But life’s dirty tricks weren’t done with me yet. Another neighbor drove by and stopped to say hello. I hadn’t seen much of her all winter. All I will say is it appears she had a nice, restful holiday unlike myself.  

I then concluded that it was time to pick up whatever dignity I had left and crawl back inside the house. Gardening could wait until I had a facelift.

“Look bad and they will come.”

But this always happens to me. I should be used to it by now. I’m the naughty parent who drives her child to school in pajamas while balancing a coffee cup between my bathrobe and steering wheel. I’ve been waved down by friends in the drop-off lane who want to stop and visit. I pretend I don’t see them. To get out of the parking lot quickly, I push my son out of our moving car with my coffee-free hand. He knows the routine should I suddenly yell, “Jump!”  

I thought I was all alone doing this until one morning when I saw another mother also dressed in her bathrobe with a towel wrapped around her head. I wanted to be her best friend.

But the irony of it all is that I do have occasions where I can clean up pretty good. When this happens, I could look like the queen of the Rose Parade and I wouldn’t see a familiar face for miles.

Why does this happen? On days where my hair, makeup and clothing decide to work together I don’t see a soul! I never see anyone as I’m coming out of the hairdresser, but I always see friends three days before my much-needed appointment!

The other day I was shopping for a birthday card and I was having one of my better days (though of course I saw no one so it can’t be confirmed) when I came across a message in a card that suited my life perfectly: “Smile, it could be worse. Think about what you’ll look like in 10 years.”

I bought it and will present it to myself on my next birthday.

Julie McGuire is a busy Lake Oswego mother of three children, a freelance writer and a monthly columnist for the Lake Oswego Review. When she’s not playing chauffer, she writes a blog, “From the Mudroom,” at fromthemudroom.com.




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