My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman (2 page)

BOOK: My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman
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Mrs. Elvis

I was just asked out on a date.

By Elvis.

For real, kind of. Or, rather, by an Elvis impersonator.

He may have left the building, but he still has a laptop.

He had evidently read somewhere that I’m a huge Elvis fan, which is true, and as he is in the Elvis business, he figured I’d be attracted, so he emailed me and asked me out.

Uh, no.

But, thank you. Thank you very much.

Not that I wasn’t tempted, but he didn’t give me all the facts, and I wasn’t about to ask. Though he did supply a head shot and he looked so handsome—dark hair, long muttonchops, shiny sunglasses—well, you know what he looks like.

I never dated anybody on a stamp.

But he didn’t specify which Elvis he was. If he was young Elvis The Pelvis, we could talk. I would make an exception from my no-younger-men rule and become a cougar. Though I’m guessing that this impersonator is pushing 60.

It’s an interesting legal question, in a way. If the impersonator is 60, but the Elvis is 22, does that make me a cougar?

Or just a kooky and fun kinda gal?

If he was black-leather Comeback Elvis, I’m still listening. Elvis in black leather on his comeback is my idea of a harmonic convergence. The only way to improve that combination is if he was carrying a big piece of chocolate layer cake.

Don’t be cruel.

But if it was Karate-Chop Elvis, I’m less sure. Though come to think of it, maybe I could be talked into it. Elvis is Elvis, even chubby. And I like peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Maybe I shouldn’t have said no so quickly.

I’m all shook up.

Still, the very notion of the email opened up new vistas for me, love-wise. By which I mean, if I could start dating impersonators, which one would I date? All of a sudden, I wasn’t limited to romance with live men, or even real men.

Wow! It boggles the mind. My odds of finding new love just skyrocketed.

Maybe I was being too picky before, limiting my dating pool to the living. True, the dead can be a little dull, but God knows I’ve been there before.

The only problem is, if I try to remember long-dead pop stars, I can’t think of a single one who does it for me.

I love to listen to Frank Sinatra, but I’m not sure he’s my type. Also Mother Mary would never forgive me. She knows they belong together. She longs to be Mrs. Ol’ Blue Eyes.

I can’t remember any other long-dead pop stars, and the only other singer who really does it for me is Bob Dylan, but he’s not dead yet. Though I bet there are tons of people already impersonating him.


Gentlemen, send me an email.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.

Hell, come to think of it, I can do a decent Dylan impersonation, so maybe I should start dating myself.

Except I already am.

I wouldn’t mind dating an impersonator of historical figures, however. I always had the hots for George Washington.

Chicks dig power.

I could be First Lady, even though I’d be First Dead Lady. I could overlook his wooden teeth, and we could share a blow dryer.

Plus, I had a thing for Robin Hood. I love all that derring-do, with the arrows shooting and the horseback riding, and the helping the poor.

And the codpiece.

What a guy! I would date Robin Hood in a second. I got so excited, I called Daughter Francesca to tell her that her new stepfather would be wearing green tights.

She laughed. “Mom, Robin Hood wasn’t real.”

“Yes, he was. I saw the movie. In fact, two movies. One with Kevin Costner, and one with Errol Flynn.”


“He was real.”

“He wasn’t.”

I considered this. It was possible she was right. She often is, and she sounded it. “But I bet people impersonate him, anyway.”


“So I could date the Robin Hood impersonator. What difference does it make if the person they impersonate is real?”

“You mean like a fake of a fake?”

“Exactly. I could do worse.”

“It’s a point,” Francesca said, hanging up.


I just found my first gray hair.

On my chin.

I’m trying not to freak.

You should know that I didn’t panic the first time I found a gray hair on my head. I coped with it like a mature adult.

I dyed it and went into denial.

But the day you find a gray hair on your chin, your world changes. It’s enough to send you back to bed for a few hours. Now I not only have a beard, it’s gray.

Maybe I need Just for Men.

Only I’m a woman.

Or at least I used to be.

Now I’m a man with a gray beard. Maybe I need Just for Old Men.

By way of background, it’s not the first time I’ve noticed that I’m growing a beard. It came in about the same time as reading glasses.

Now there’s a nice visual. Take a second with that one. Let your imagination run wild.

Those days, I would see a stray chin hair now and then, or at least that was the way I thought of it. Until it filled in nicely and needed trimming.

Suddenly I’m Amish.

Or a billy goat. Or the bearded lady in the circus. And though it’s good to change careers, I had other ideas. So I started plucking like crazy.

Which was about the time I started noticing a fine peach fuzz, sprouting all over my cheeks. It wasn’t easy to see because it was blond, and God only knows how that happened.

By the time you start growing facial hair, you lose your religion.

Still I was grateful for small favors, and tried to ignore it. But then I started to see more and more peach fuzz, like sideburns, and soon I was sporting full-length girl muttonchops.

As much as I love Elvis, I never wanted to be him.

So then I started plucking like it was going out of style, yanking out these little blond hairs that would look great on a baby chick.

But not on a full-grown chick.

I kept up with it, and at one point, I found myself in a plastic surgeon’s office. This was a year ago, when Ruby The Crazy Corgi accidentally bit off the top of my finger and they had to do a skin graft. If you want to know the full story, you have to read
Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog,
and it’s worth it for the bralessness alone.

But anyway, while I was at the plastic surgeon’s, I saw a sign for exfoliating facials, chemical peels, and facial waxing, which made me feel a little better, as I must not be the only woman turning into a man against his/her will.

So I went to the desk to ask the young woman about it, and it turned out she was an esthetician, which is evidently not someone who appreciates art.

“See my muttonchops?” I asked, pointing. “Can you do anything about that?”

“Not really. It happens as you get older.”

Thanks, child.
“Can’t you wax it off?”


“But the sign says facial waxing.”

“Some women get their mustaches waxed.”

I blinked. “So why can’t you wax my beard and sideburns?”

The esthetician blinked back. “I don’t know. But we don’t.”

“Don’t other women ask for it?”

“Never,” she answered without hesitation, which confirmed that I was the only one.

“You got any other ideas?”

“I suppose we could bleach it for you, if you wanted.”

“But it’s already blond.”

“It could be lighter.”

“Like Santa Claus or Sigmund Freud?”

“Who?” she asked, but I let it go.

I went home and started plucking like crazy, then yanking and tearing out at the root. But in time, I stopped freaking out and got used to my hairy new self.

I think of my beard as a sweater for the face.

When I have to go out, I pluck my cheeks. No big deal.

And now that it’s turning gray, I suppose I’ll deal with that, too.

Like a mature adult.

I’ll go into denial.

Baby Blues

Daughter Francesca has moved to New York, and it’s a matter of public record that I’m officially fine.

Actually, the fact that it’s New York is beside the point. For me, the trouble is she’s not under my roof anymore.

Or in a convent.

Truth to tell, the only convent I’ve ever been in was to research my first novel, when I visited a cloistered order of nuns who kept strict vows of silence. Imagine a group of women, living without uttering a single word, 24-7.

Like the worst pajama party ever.

The nuns made an exception to talk to me for my novel, which is proof of heaven, and they told me that silence was the way to the soul and that an empty can makes the most noise.

But to stay on point, Francesca has moved out for good, which I know is the right thing.

For her.

We packed up her books and sweaters, and gradually I watched her bedroom empty until all that was left were some drama-club trophies, a stable of plastic Breyer ponies, and an
I Love Lucy

Things she’s too old to take, but too young to throw away.

They’ll stay and wait for her, holding her place in a time that’s becoming history, and a home where she’ll no longer feel at home.

She’s making a new home.

I gave her my old Pyrex casseroles to take to her apartment, and we poached a tall Oriental lamp from the dining room. I made her take an ergonomic desk chair that she doesn’t even like, and I surrendered a painted stool she’ll use as a night table. When I look around now, my own house has disintegrated, in a sense, to form hers.

Did my house give birth to her apartment?

And since I don’t have to make meals, take time to chat, and generally live with her, the very structure of my days has dematerialized, and I almost feel myself fall to pieces, splintering in a strange sort of way.

It’s an odd feeling, though the pieces are slowly coming back together, reconstituted and reconfigured, to form a new life.


Different from Before.

I’m not sure what After will look like, going forward. It won’t look like when she was at college, because that was only temporary, a four-year baby step to walking. But now she’s flying, and this is something else. Something new. And as happy as I am for her, I’m betting that many of you have felt the same way I do, you mothers and fathers who have happily completed your God-given task of willing a child into and out of your life.

And all of it within memory.

It’s a paradox that you can remember your child’s first word from twenty years ago and you cannot remember your car keys from twenty minutes ago.


Francesca’s first word was “duck,” because she had a toy rubber duck. I was fascinated by her first word, and have been fascinated by all of her words since, even the angry and the exasperated words, because there have been so many more joyful, clever, thoughtful, and loving words.

She’s a congenitally noisy can, my daughter, and I’m grateful for that. I know that the house will be silent without her, but I also know that we’ll probably be on the phone way too much, and that we’ll text, email, and even trade paragraphs from whatever we’re both writing.

In the end, we’ll always have each other’s words.

And each other’s hearts.

Because, with apologies to my cloistered sisters, I think that voice, and not silence, is the sound of the human soul.

BOOK: My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman
10.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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