When I was a freshman in college, I bought a subscription to Cosmopolitan. It made me feel very sophisticated and mature. Not a steel town girl. Not a small college town girl. A cosmopolitan woman. Don't you forget it.
Oh -- that reminds me of another thing I did freshman year: I pledged a sorority. One thing my sorority sisters -- and therefore I -- would not stand for was being called girls. We were women, thank you very much. Women whose parents were still footing the bills while we dipped our toes into adulthood -- women whose parents were, in most cases, still doing our laundry -- but women all the same.
Women who read Cosmopolitan. Hear us roar.
I also subscribed to Playgirl, but that's not really relevant to today's story. Although it might go a long way towards explaining my attraction to men doing mundane things. I haven't opened a Playgirl in 30 years or so, so I have no idea if this is still a valid reference, but at the time every photo spread featured non-threatening naked or mostly naked men doing mundane things -- yard work, car maintenance, etc. There were also usually a fair contingency of firefighters and cowboys and -- you know, all the Village People professions. I remember thinking that based on my admittedly meager exposure to girly magazines, it seemed that photos of naked women designed to entice just made you think things like, "There's a naked lady. She sure is naked. She's awfully pretty, all naked like that." I don't know. I'm as straight as the day is long. Those were the sort of things that I thought when I looked at girly mags. Your mileage may vary. But Playgirl? It was like I was supposed to imagine a conversation like, "Excuse me, Mr. Construction Worker Man. Where are your pants?"
"Well, little lady,"
"I am a woman. I am not a little lady."
"Well, little -- er, um -- well, Woman, I had pants on when I came to work this morning, but they were chafing me a little bit, so I doffed them. Besides, I like the way the fresh air and sunshine feels on my pert well-muscled bum as I swing a hammer and do otherwise manly things."
"I see. Well, that's very nice. Carry on."
I didn't subscribe to Playgirl for very long. I found it far more silly than sexy.
But Cosmopolitan -- oh, Cosmopolitan.
I read each issue cover to cover, then saved it on my bookshelf. When year two of my subscription began, I started noticing a trend. If I compared January to January, it was almost the same issue. Even the colors of the spines of the magazines worked through a 12 issue spectrum. It was very predictable. As the third year began, I knew I was ready to give it up. I still thought of myself as cosmopolitan and sophisticated -- or at least, as POTENTIALLY cosmopolitan and sophisticated -- but I had already READ these articles. Very little changed year to year.
This saddened me tremendously.
If the life of a cosmopolitan woman was predictable and boring, what chance did I -- a steel town girl, a small college town girl -- have at an interesting life?
These thoughts occurred to me as I found myself thrilled today at the changing of the season. It's not warm yet, but it's getting there. There's promise. The magazine cover for my life this month would probably be a bright green and would tease such articles as:
New Season, New You!
Spring Cleaning Tips that will Have your House Party Ready in No Time!
Lose That Winter Gut! Step Up Your Game in the Gym and in the Kitchen
Fresh Recipes to Help you Shake off the Winter Blahs and Get Moving Again!
5 Simple Moves to Get You Out of Hibernation and Onto That Bike!
Find Your Style -- Simple Wardrobe Fixes for Any Budget That will Keep Your Look Up to Date
Just A Number -- Makeup and Fashion Tips to Help You Look Your Best at Any Age
I could probably go on, but I think you get the idea.
The same articles that would've been featured last year at this time. Heading out of the same articles that were featured last winter.
It's a rut. It's not necessarily a bad rut -- there is always something to do -- always something to look forward to -- but they're the same things I did -- looked forward to -- last year and the year before that. I think I need something -- new. That steel town girl wanted so badly to be that cosmopolitan woman. This suburban mom doesn't even know how to articulate the longing.
I'll figure it out. And if I don't I can at least look forward to Making a Summer Oasis in My Own Backyard and maybe 7 Cocktails to Keep You Cool When it's Hot Outside.