by Melodie Johnson Howe
While James has fortified himself with various high tech objects for Bouchercon, I am wondering what to wear. I know I’m a writer and I shouldn’t be bothered about such things; but even Lillian Hellman worried about what she should wear when “asked” to appear at the House On Un-American Activities Committee. I think she settled on a Lily Daché hat and a Don Loper dress. I could be wrong, but I don’t have time to look it up because I’m still in my closet. As it turned out she never did have to give testimony, but she did have the outfit.
During my recent hospital episode I lost weight. The problem is I also lost my ass. (If Nora Ephron can write about her breasts and then later her neck I can write about my rear end.) I’ve searched for my ass but it’s nowhere to be found.
I think the female readers of this blog will identify with me here. It’s thrilling to lose weight. Suddenly you can get into things you could never wear before. Alas there is always a reality check: as you get older you lose weight in odd places. Hence my missing ass. I was so excited to slip on my tight jeans (times have changed since Hellman’s Daché hat and Loper dress) only to find that they hung on me in a very odd way. Tight over the stomach and baggy in the rear.
I rush for the biggest mirror and turn myself into a pretzel trying to see my tush. But I can’t. I search for my husband. I find him standing on the outside ledge of a window. He’s reading glasses are askew and he’s frantically clutching Investor Daily in his hands.
I turn my back to him. “Do I have an ass?”
“What?” His face is contorted now and he’s tearing the paper into shreds. “Do you know what’s going on in the economy?”
“Do you know we have a one story house?”
He sighs and steps off the ledge and wanders into the kitchen tossing the paper in the recycle bin. “$700,000,000,000 of taxpayer money.” He clings to the center island.
“Yes, you do.” He finally admits.
“But I don’t have the one I used to have. I think I have somebody else’s.”
I pull at clumps of fabric to show him. “Are my jeans too baggy?”
He eyes me suspiciously. “Are you writing something?”
“No, I’m trying to figure out what I’m, going to wear to Bouchercon.” But was I writing something?
“Melodie, they are not going to care if your jeans are baggy.”
“But that’s not the point. I don’t have an ass!”
I call my writer friend. She comes over and carefully studies me from all angles. Then pronounces: “You have to buy new jeans, Melodie. You can’t go to Bouchercon looking like that.”
My husband walks by. He is now carrying the Wall Street Journal. “Sometimes you just have to let things shake themselves out. Take the hard hits.” He disappears into his office.
“What’s he talking about?” she asks.
“The bailout that’s not a bailout that is a bailout.”
We discuss it no further. We do not agree politically. For the sake of our friendship we avoid politics. We focus on my jeans.
“Are we serious women?” I ask.
“Very,” she says. “I have to go and work out so I can get into my jeans.” She leaves.
I sit on the edge of my bed. Nothing is binding me. I stand up and lean over. I don’t see stars because the waist band is not digging into my flesh. I sit back down. I experience a new feeling. What is it? I can’t quite grasp it. Oh, God, I’m comfortable, I finally realize. Even if I don’t have my own ass.
My husband comes into the room. He is now gripping Barron’s. I stand up and wiggle my ass again. “I’m shaking things out,” I tell him.
“You’re writing a blog. Admit it.”