By Lisa Curry
Last fall, my sons, ages 7 and 9, had a day off school. My mother-in-law and I both took the day off work to take the boys on our annual pilgrimage to a toy store that puts on a big Christmas display. Afterward, as a matter of tradition, we had lunch at a nearby family restaurant.
When the waitress came to take our orders, she looked at me and asked, “Are those real?”
If I were someone else, I might have thought she meant my breasts. But anyone who’s ever met me can tell you there are eleven-year-olds far better endowed than I am in that area.
So what was she talking about – my curls, maybe? They’re real, although their original color, dark brown, has long since departed and is now chemically reproduced.
“Your eyes, I mean,” the waitress said.
That conjured a mental image of the skinny blond pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl with a fork stuck in his wooden eye. I tried not to laugh, but I knew what she meant.
I have blue eyes. Just garden-variety blue, not some bizarre violet or turquoise shade nature never produced. Still, people occasionally ask if my eyes are really that blue or if I wear colored contacts.
I told her they were real.
“They’re pretty,” she said, and I thanked her.
I would guess that according to Emily Post, asking a person if her eye color – or curly hair, breasts, diamond ring, whatever – is real is probably a breach of etiquette. But let’s face it, out in the real, everyday, working world, there are plenty of people like that waitress, who don’t mean to be rude, but are simply curious. So it would seem mean-spirited to respond to the question with, “None of your beeswax.”
And, really, if you’re blessed with a feature that causes people to question its authenticity, you might as well take it as a compliment, right?
But what if the answer is no? What if you do wear colored contacts, get your hair permed, or have breast implants, and someone asks you, “Are those real?” Then how do you answer?
Pondering that reminded me of a story I heard at one of my sons’ baseball games. A bunch of the parents had gone to an adults-only party at a neighborhood pool the night before and were discussing a woman who’d drank too much, shed half her bikini, and swam topless.
One boy’s mother laughed and said, “That was my aunt, visiting from out of state. She’s a 45-year-old breast-cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy. If she wants to get drunk and show off her new boobs, can you blame her?”
Well, no, honestly, I can’t.
What do you think that woman would say if someone asked her if her breasts were real?
I bet she’d say, “Hell, no, they’re not real. I paid thousands for these babies. Check them out!”
Drunken skinny-dipping aside, we can all take a lesson from that woman.
Today, let’s celebrate ourselves – the parts of us that were gifts of the gene pool, the parts we bought and paid for, the parts that are less than perfect that we’ve learn to live with.
Let’s just celebrate being alive.