Excerpt from the book “They Call Me Orange Juice” by Audrey McDonald Atkins
Today was a good day for no other reason than the fact that I was feeling the cuteness.
I mean really feeling it.
Now y’all don’t think I’m having a narcissistic breakdown. In fact, to the innocent observer, I’m quite sure I looked the same as I do every day — like a 40-something working mama who manages to match her clothes and comb her hair nearly every day.
I have those days, probably more often than not, where my clothes don’t quite fit right, my stomach is poochy, and I feel all out of sorts and just plain homely. There are the panty lines and what Granny called “eruptions” to contend with. Shine in the t-zone and circles under the eyes. At times like this, my attitude usually deflates as fast as my hairdo does, if not faster.
There is work, and band practice, and laundry, and things to sign, and checks to write, and dinner to cook, and dishes to wash, and scrapes to be bandaged, and bullies in school, and crazies on the road, and … and … and … at the end of the day you feel like a worn-out husk of a mama ready to take to your bed and let the chips fall where they may, even if it’s out of the bag and onto the sheets.
But today was just different. I had a new outfit, and it not only fit well, it seemed to be remotely flattering. It hid what should be hidden, and it flattered what should be accentuated. The sweater I bought to match the outfit actually did match it. I had new boots. Enough said there. New boots!
If you have ever smothered yourself with Aquanet and permanent wave solution and fried your scalp with all manner of evil heated devices, you will appreciate this: my board-straight, baby-fine hair managed to defy all odds and not cling to my head like a dishwater-colored skullcap despite the fact it was a misty day. I even went outside, y’all! Twice!
But like I said, this really isn’t so much about looking good as feeling good, and I felt good! I felt smart and sophisticated, clever and charming, worldly and vivacious. I felt like I could conquer the universe with my feminine wiles, disarming wit, and a pocketknife. I felt like a three-olive martini, straight up! And, by granny, I had me one.
You see, it’s all about the cuteness. You can’t buy the cuteness, although a new dress and boots help, to be sure. You can’t create the cuteness. You can’t borrow the cuteness from your best friend. You have to reach down into your very soul and feel the cuteness.
And if you feel the cuteness, really feel it, everyone else will feel it too. People will wonder how you manage to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan while looking so calm and rested. They will whisper hateful things behind your back about how you can possibly manage to host the bridge club, meet with the historical society, and still show up for PTO. They will question whether you visited the fountain of youth during AEA instead of Destin like you said. They will despise you, and you just won’t care.
It’s all in the cuteness.
And that, my dear sisters, is the secret to holding the world in the palm of your cute little hand.
Born and raised in Citronelle, Atkins shares stories about growing up and living in the South in her book, “They Call Me Orange Juice,” and at her blog folkwaysnowadays.com.