Sunday, September 14, 2008

thanks, world.

i was in my pre-teen years and she was a 20-something-year-old stranger. although i did not know her, her eyes peered into mine with such eagerness and sincerity, i wanted to believe her every word.

"you are such a pretty girl," she told me.

i smiled a bit – but not because i was trying to be gracious or humble. it was just that ... well. ok. of course i should've just been grateful for the rare compliment, except i couldn't disregard few factors in that scenario:

1. she was a patient in a mental institution.
2. see #1.
3. still can't let go of #1.

i know that i am completely objective when i say i am nothing special to look at. i'm no supermodel, and my face could hardly launch a dozen paper boats. as a child, i'd gotten used to going to parties with my older sister, who everyone greeted with "you're so pretty". all i ever got at those events were a pat and a measly "you've grown up so quickly" or some unappealing variant.

in gradeschool, we were asked to write down our favorite feature, and for lack of an actual favorite feature, i thoughtlessly wrote down "eyes". upon seeing my answer, a classmate looked at me and my supposed favorite feature, and asked almost politely, "really? eyes? what's so great about them?" then ran off to laugh with another classmate about my choice.

thanks, world.

i'll stop the miserable narrative at this point and just say this: i had my share of sucky moments in childhood. it wasn't an awful time, but a few non-schoolwork-related compliments wouldn't have hurt. really.

so then i grew up and realized that beauty comes from within and all that crap (important note to young readers: beauty comes from within). i mean i don't think a few nasty comments can still alter my self-esteem. however, once in a while, i get comments that make me want to dig a hole for the unfortunate shell that is my body. thankfully, these ego jabs are few and far between, and there are countless other things that make me grateful for my life and "favorite feature"-less body.

one of the most recent events that has put a crazy smile on my face is being at the receiving end of a well-planned surprise party for my 35th birthday.

it was everything one could ask for in a birthday party: a manually-operated mirror ball with a tall, shameless but sexy man dancing under it (note to sexy man: you owe me for the generous use of adjectives); the soundtrack of mamma mia playing in the background; table settings fit for a 5-star wedding reception; huge posters of me in full embarrassing glory; pictures of me and rafa nadal (sadly, not together) scattered all over the venue; homemade mexican food prepared by a non-mexican brother-in-law; a customized 'jeopardy' game that was so difficult i couldn't even answer questions about me ... etc, etc.

to say i felt appreciated is like saying oprah has a bit of money. when i got home that night, i shed a few happy tears thinking about all the people who thought i was worth the effort.

thanks, friends. you'll have to top it next year. (tips: better acting and maybe chocolate ice cream?)

and speaking of bodily fluids and feeling loved (wait for it ...), a few days ago, martina (my 2-year-old niece currently being potty trained), entered the bathroom while i was peeing rather peacefully. she ran to my side and, after hearing me tinkle, clapped for me, gave me a huge smile and said, "goojob!!!"

if a tiny, slightly inarticulate, extremely adorable child impressed with my toilet skills doesn't make me feel ultra-special, i don't know what will.