Finding the perfect woman

She lit up the supermarket like we were in an open field and just hadn't realised it.

SHE was pushing a trolley, lost in her world of grocery shopping, but she could have been a model in some cosmetics, hair or tampon ad.

She was tall, slender – not stick skinny – graceful, with petite features and porcelain skin. Her fine blonde hair was pulled neatly back.

I told my husband I had just seen the perfect woman. He said he’d seen her too.

I wondered if she realised the kinds of conversations she ignited. Perhaps the people privy to such unabashed envy are oblivious to the awe they leave behind them. Perhaps if they were more conscious of their appeal, they’d be assailed by comments, criticisms and come-ons, making them less comfortable in their own skin and ensuring bad posture, poor skin condition, et cetera.

I’m pretty certain I’ve never left conversations like that in my wake, especially as I schlep around Woolworths in my “man pants” and thongs.

Not that she was dressed up. Her simple sun dress sat against her perfectly, it didn’t pull or pucker in awkward places. There was no visible bra straps or back fat peeking out. Even her sandals, bearing her full weight, seemed carefree.

This woman was flawless. I imagined her head was free of wearying, neurotic thoughts and  – had I the nous to drag my stare off her and glance at her shopping – her trolley was full of organic chicken breast, gluten-free muffin mix, pine nuts and fresh herbs.

On weekends, she would run half-marathons, be content with coming in the Top 10 (after all, it’s about the charity), read a good book cover to cover and visit her mum with a bunch of tulips. Her home would be my husband’s fantasy – light, airy and minimalist in decor.

Her life, I envisaged, was Perfect. Uncomplicated, uncluttered and utterly Perfect.

Of course, she is single and childless.

Because, after all, if she possessed all this beauty and steadfast self-assuredness with an unsullied marriage and obedient children… well, we’d have to kill her!

Her imperceptible load wasn’t enough to crease her brow, a situation I greatly covet. Even before the labour pains or the engagement ring, I never possessed such poise. I was anxious I wouldn’t get A’s in high school, anxious I wouldn’t graduate university, anxious I wouldn’t find a job, anxious I would lose my job, anxious I wouldn’t find a better job. And now… I’m anxious that any subediting skill I once possessed was folded up in a dirty nappy and tossed in the bin, anxious that I’m too obsessed with work when I should be mothering, anxious that I’ll never be discovered for the literary talent that I am… anxious that I’m not a literary talent (after all, I’m writing about a chick in the supermarket?!)

What would it be like to have clear head-space? To not worry about my daughter’s dummy dependence at seven months of age, or fret about how I’ll work and keep the kids entertained without 24-hour television? It would be a dream…

But I wondered how you could appreciate the light-heartedness in life if that was all you had ever known? I wondered if this lady had ever laughed so hard, her drink came out her nose? Had she ever experienced a real heartbreak or the amazing revelation that hearts mend? Did she ever do anything devious – drive up an unknown, overgrown driveway just because it’s there and then make a hasty retreat when dogs emerge from rusting car heaps? (Am I being too specific?)

Because my life, not to mention my brain, is so demanding, I find my light-hearted moments in the small things. Feathers on footpaths, my son offering cake to a fly, a drive up an unknown, overgrown driveway…

But would I be so taken with these things if the daily bustle was so unchallenging? Perhaps this lady, with her perfect form and who can shop without pulling a face like she’s picking up poo (which I’m pretty sure I do) covets a life that challenges her, brings her something small to inspire or frighten her from the placid life she knows.

Or perhaps she’s just as messed up as the rest of us. Sticking to her gluten-free diet and spending hours at the salon for such perfect hair, grateful she can get the groceries with a serene smile that fools the rest of us plebs. Who knows…

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hpretty
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 06:39:41

    I have no doubt she will be harbouring lots of imperfections like the rest of us. Things are rarely as they seem.


  2. Amber Miller
    Apr 06, 2010 @ 10:09:19

    I, too, am obsessed by overgrown driveways and say to the kids “Hang on, let’s go exploring”. I am also obsessed with imagining what goes on in other people’s lives. I think this woman left her 5 kids and smelly husband at home, got dressed up and went to the supermarket. She would probably be astounded that you had these thoughts about her. She was probably thinking “Gee, that woman in her man-pants looks comfortable. I might try that”. One wonders…


    • petajo
      Apr 07, 2010 @ 03:47:48

      Ha, it did cross my mind that perhaps she had her family tied up in a cellar. I’m not always a good judge of character!
      Glad to hear someone else enjoys impromptu adventures. Found out you could drive right out around the marina here on Sunday, was fun though I have nightmares about thin roads that have oceans on either side!


  3. Emma
    Dec 06, 2010 @ 21:20:46

    Ahhhh yes…. The perfect woman. Don’t you just want to kick her 🙂


  4. Trackback: Cover girl crisis « PetaJo

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