I looked better when
I was Paul's girlfriend.
As I cried, the Muppet Babies on my thin pillowcase
turned brighter than I'd ever seen them. Dancing Kermit
went from faded green to the shade of a ripe avocado.
Miss Piggy had been almost invisible for five years,
but suddenly her flesh looked peachy. I looked into
the handheld woe-is-me mirror I kept on my nightstand.
When I watched my face contort into sadness,
I cried even harder. My skin was pale, zitty and blotchy;
my eyes were veined, swollen, and hidden under my unibrow;
my hair was knotty and full of scalp grease. Under less
insane circumstances, my complexion was decent. As things
stood, though, my sparkle or shine were history.
Just like Paul and I were history.
My eyes sprung another leak, so I slammed my head back
into the softness of the wet Muppet Babies. After crying
on them for four days straight, I had memorized every
thread of each character.
"Who do you think you are, Katie?" Mom berated from
the hallway. "I didn't raise no goddamned nun."
I had hung a crucifix outside my doorway just after
the breakup. My mother was about as devout as a turnip;
so I bought the symbol to scare her away. She hated
it when I threatened to pray, so I prayed loudly whenever
I wanted her to make her disappear. I was not religious
either, but I didn't think she'd figured that out yet.
Her strongest beliefs were in cable television, drive-through
windows, and airbrushed fingernails. She was not your
average level of annoying, I swear to God. My mother
was a manicure-obsessed, southern she-devil who lived
for drugstore lipstick and drive-through dinners.
Clearly, since she was insulting me, she was no longer
leery of the cross. Hoping for just a few more hours
of peace with my pillowcase, I vowed to hang up a rosary
the second she walked away. I bought the beads because
I thought they'd make a sexy belt on a future date with
Paul. Of course, that's when I used to care about how
I looked. Recently, I'd had no plans to leave 142 East
Main Street ever again unless it was through the valley
of the shadow of death. I just hoped Mom would think
to bury me in my favorite sheets.
"Do you think prayin' will help? You need to get up
off your ass and wash your stanky self in the shower.
You need to go back to Shitville High School and graduate.
It ain't too late to get a life," she said with her
three-inch fingernail pointed my way. "Remember, the
less you got, the more there is to get."