The Eye of the Beholder


Life is getting back to normal. Bad breath matters again. 

Me and my sister-in-law Gloriosa were sitting at the PJ’s, smiling around at everybody, and talking about how nice it is to be sipping coffee next to people-size people instead of mini-people in Zoom squares.

But credit where it’s due – Zoom got us through. That, and Facebook, and all them viral posts: “What color is this tennis shoe? If it looks gray, you are right-brained. If it looks pink, you are left-brained.”   

We don’t have to worry about that no more, I tell her, as long as our own shoes match.

Everything ain’t completely wonderful though, Gloriosa says. “Bras are back.”

Now, Gloriosa is the bosomy type – to put it mildly – and she went online and ordered one of them bralettes that, no matter how endowed you are, are supposed to support you by voodoo or something; no wires, no clasp in back – pull it over your head “just like pulling on a cozy sweater.”

More like pulling on a cozy boa constrictor, she says. What happened, she had ordered her usual size, and forgot she had grown a few cup sizes during COVID. 

She said she was half in, half out of the thing and the Orkin man rang the doorbell and she almost strangled herself trying to get it either on or off to answer the door.” How would they explain that in my obituary?” she wants to know.

Also in the real world, my daughter Gladiola’s school, Celibacy Academy, is having a Viva Vaccination year-end formal. 

Gladiola is so excited. She found a gorgeous pink gown for $20 – marked down from $120 – at the J.C. Penney’s clearance in Lakeside Mall.  But she also wants matching shoes, which ain’t in the budget.

Then two days before the dance, she finds some pretty high-heeled evening shoes at the thrift shop. Unfortunately, they are green. 

 She decides to dye them pink. 

She goes online and looks up a “tutorial” on how to dye shoes; gets the pink  dye and vinegar and stuff to do it, and THEN remembers she got a crucial math test in the morning. Naturally, I wind up dying these shoes. 

I follow each step like the tutorial says. It takes forever – Gladiola is asleep in bed when I finally finish. But that ain’t a problem. The problem is, her shoes ain’t pink. Now they are gray.

 I look at this tutorial again. Come to find out, it is only for shoes that were white to begin with. It says, right there at the bottom, “A green shoe cannot be dyed pink; it will come out gray or brown.”

How am I going to break this to Gladiola?

Then I remember that viral Facebook post.  

Next morning, when Gladiola looks at the shoes and lets out a screech, I pull up the post on Facebook.

I explain she must be seeing gray because it has activated the left side of her brain, the logical side, by cramming for the math test.

After she leaves for school, muttering to herself, I call Gloriosa and tell her the whole story. 

She says I am terrible, messing with the child’s mind. And then she adds, “I got some pink shoes she can use.”

I had forgot that Gloriosa is a shoe freak. One entire wall of her walk-in closet is nothing but compartments which hold enough shoes to restock Payless. And her shoe size is pretty close to Gladiola’s. 

Yes, she got pink evening shoes. They even look a little like the ones I just dyed gray. 

I switch them out, and when Gladiola gets home, she looks at the shoes and screeches again, “They turned pink!” 

I say, “The test is over. So you are back to the right side – the creative side of your brain. So you see them as pink.”

I let that sit for a few minutes. Then I break down and tell her the truth. 

Thank God, she takes it good. 

“I love you, Ma,” she says. “You never give up.” And she wears Gloriosa’s shoes and has a wonderful time. 

I have a drink. 

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