Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Beauty Allergen

Why do my cheeks seem to swell into ham hocks the moment I set foot into a salon? Is it a trick of the mirror, or am I allergic to prettiness?

Also, it would seem that I could empty a cosmetics counter on my face and still look plain, as though surely all experienced beauty-goers look gorgeous and blemish-free, chin-up with their head in the hair-wash sink.

What I thought was a casual-but-cute skirt-and-flip-flops combination becomes the definition of “dirty hippy.” Also, unless it’s 9 a.m., I am Captain Pitstains–which only gets worse as I sit clenched under the smock as though a hair cut is akin to a dental procedure.

I can do a fair impersonation of classy in a fancy restaurant, but beauty salons and spas are beyond me. I don’t know which came first, the pull toward tomboy or the push away from girliness, but I found confidence in sports the same way I found insecurity in, well, femininity. Early on, I learned to dread the reaction I expected if I wore a dress to school–not so much “Wow, you’re pretty” as “Hah! That’s different!” In other words, “freakshow.”

I actually like the idea of being well-coiffed and dressed to the nines, all heels and hems. I currently have three kickass cocktail outfits and about a dozen unused purses in my closet just waiting for a fancy night out. But the effort-to-reward ratio skews to “not worth it” after about 15 minutes of prep time. Because without a full styling team and two hours to work with, a cocktail dress and a little blush is only going to accomplish, well, “Hannah looking hunched and awkward in church clothes.”

To me, blow dryers and curling irons, eyeliner and lipstick–they’re like karaoke. Do I really want to draw a bunch of attention to the fact that I can’t quite pull this off? No, I want to sit in the back all, “Meh, I don’t sing.”

And so it goes for salons, my karaoke green room, surrounded by people who know all the songs.

I want to make the effort, I really do. But 15 minutes of juggling a soccer ball always led to 15 minutes more, with all the satisfaction of accomplishing something and still getting better.

Fifteen minutes in front of a mirror mucking with my hair just makes me want to grab a ball cap and move on.

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My Spreading A-Peel

(Courtesy of a former colleague vacationing on Panama City Beach.)

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Day Off No. 4

Apologies for the delay, but on Friday, after I got everything written out, WordPress ATE MY DRAFT, and I had to wait until I didn’t want to kill things anymore. Which takes a while, obviously.

So: Thursday. Thursday was our Anna Maria Island day. (And as an added bonus, I actually managed to sleep in until 10, so that was a good start.)

First up was beach. I love Bradenton/Coquina/Cortez/whateveryoucallit beach (the one that stretches south of Cortez Road). Debby did do some damage, but it’s a great demonstration of the importance of sea oats: The water obviously came right up and over the oats, but the erosion stopped at their roots–so now there’s this nifty sedentary study of a shelf of sand, and then waves that wash up much further on the flattened beach than they used to, leaving only 20 feet or so of sand. It’s still an awesome beach, though.

We lounged. We swam–the water was just cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough so you wanted to jump right in. We played catch with our cool little Waboba-ripoff skippy ball thing. We swam around with our masks on and searched underwater for shells. It was perfect.

From there we walked dripping to Joe’s Eats and Sweets for ice cream, since Joe’s made a big impression during our office ice cream-a-thon, and salty lips love cool, creamy sweetness. Waffle cones of butter pecan and almond, and before lunch, too, because that is what you do on days off.

For lunch, as per the plan, we hit up Skinny’s–arch rival to our beloved Duffy’s. But we picked Duffy’s only because we loved their burgers by a lot, but we’d never tried Skinny’s by comparison before. This was our chance to make an educated decision.

Skinny’s: two TVs, both on SportsCenter. Good sign.

Skinny’s is an AC-less Old Florida shack right across the street from Manatee County Beach. It’s the perfect draw for beachgoers–close and casual, super-friendly and heavenly satisfying, with its own quirky-but-simple ordering rules. Burgers are Skinny (single) or Fatty (double), with cheese and bacon if you want, but your condiment/toppings options stop at “mayo” or “no mayo.”

I’m sorry, have we met? If the question is “mayo or no?,” the answer is always YES.

Also, tater tots. Tots are always a yes.

And yes, the burgers, they are juicy and delicious.

And yes, I’m still a Duffy’s gal.

I mean, I’m not going to turn down a Skinny’s burger–not on your life–but it wasn’t the kind of transcendent must-eat-this-burger-and-all-of-its-brethren experience I’ve had at Duffy’s. It’s just the way my beef has lain.

Stuffed and a tad overheated, we got in the car and just…drove. What a lovely thing–this must have been what all the old people were savoring while I was a bored and impatient child in the back seat. (Although I imagine they didn’t savor it too much with me there, heh.) We wound our way north to get to know the island. And then we wound up at one of my top 10 favorite places in all the world: Anna Maria City Pier.

Wood underfoot 100 yards out into the gulf; Skyway backdrop, sea breeze and cold beer, afternoon sunshine and a deep breath.

Doesn’t. Get. Better.

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