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leah at agirlandaboy dot com

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About Leah (It's not my real name!)


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July 12, 2006

Use Your Words

Having a boyfriend is a bit like having a baby. Well, not like having a baby, but like counting a baby among your daily responsibilities.

For one, there's the fierce protectiveness that had me forbid Simon to ever go into a grocery store again because Sunday night on CSI a supermarket robbery gone bad = body count of five, including two innocent bystanders who just needed a carton of coffee creamer. "Fine by me," he said. "But where will we get groceries?" "From the Internet," I replied, using my superior reasoning skills, "because the Internet is perfectly safe. No psychos there..."

Two: I'm constantly taking his picture because he's just so gosh-darn cute. Forget composition, lighting, focus, just snap away to capture the moment, any moment, even one as mundane as standing in the music room getting ready to go to the beach sans any kind of facial expression or sense of purpose whatsoever.


Three: People write about teaching their babies to talk, building their children's vocabularies--and hence their universes--one "ball," "cat," and "truck" at a time. Similarly, having a boyfriend also involves some lexicon development, although thankfully mine pretty much had the "ball" and "cat" thing down before I got to him.

The most common kind of boyfriend vocabulary lesson is probably learning the names of flowers ("What's that? A cala lily! Right!" "Now show me the chrysanthemum. Good boy! Have a cookie!"), but last weekend we tackled a more advanced lesson: ladies' fashions. While we wandered around Berkeley buying "sophisticated" T-shirts (babysteps into adulthood, okay?), I taught Simon new words like "goucho" and "city short" and "cowl neck." By the end of the day, he was pointing out the difference between capris and clamdiggers with all the accuracy and gusto of a Queer Eye.

And even better? Like a baby learns that "quack quack" goes with "duck" and "moo" goes with "cow," Simon learned that *eyeroll* goes with city shorts and *gag-me-with-a-spoon* goes with leggings. I'm so proud of my little scholar, disparaging the blind trendsters like a seasoned critic. Look out Mr. Blackwell! (Confession: Now, having actually tried on a pair of city shorts when he wasn't looking, I think I may regret having taught him to mock them so effectively; with my lumpy thighs, I should be all about embracing inseams that measure in inches rather than centimeters, even if they remind me of growing up in a society where people buy clothes specifically to cover up their magic underwear, making Daisy Dukes a brave act of spiritual rebellion rather than just a brazen flaunting of sex appeal. For now, the jury's still out on city shorts. I'll keep you posted.)

If one must be trendy, however, one should do it at cost. Damned if I'll pay $58 for a floofy white skirt too short for work when it's only worth $10 on a good day and will be out of style in three months. And thus it was with much callooing and callaying that I discovered just such a $58 floofy white skirt on sale for $10 at Urban Outfitters. And if there's one thing I like better than $10 clothes, it's $10 clothes that used to be $58 clothes, and I was so pleased with my purchase that I didn't even wait until we got home to give Simon a fashion show of all my new purchases, but instead shimmied out of an old skirt and into the new one as soon as we were back in the car. Yes, I was excited, but I also I figured I'd better start getting my ten dollars out of something that might be passť by next week. As we pulled away from the curb, I was already wriggling into my new teal cowl neck with cutesy cap sleeves, voguing in the passenger seat like a giddy moron. All of this with my seatbelt on, of course. Safety first!

There was something peculiar about the skirt, though, and I think it explains why it was both the only one like it on the rack as well as the lowest priced article of clothing in the store:


If I'm a size 1, slap my face and call me Beauregard because I there's no way I can wear anything on my bottom half smaller than my shoe size, which, you should know, is in the double digits. At five foot eight and a half inches, my ass would have to fit down a well snug alongside Jessica McClure to be a size 1. Not that I'm complaining. Hooray for misprints that make me feel like a tiny buttercup of a girl! Good way to win loyal, albeit deluded, customers.

Which brings me back to boyfriends and fashion and a little something known as the "Flattery Will Get You Everywhere" principle. Many moons ago, Simon came home with a small pink bag with seafoam green tissue paper enthusing from the top and through the white twine loop handles. Inside was a three-pack of panties--nothing dirty, just briefs with pink vintagey cartoon ladies in various acrobatic (but not dirty!) poses. "They didn't have any mediums," he said, "and I thought the larges would be too big, so I got the smalls. I hope that's okay."

First, hello, he bought me a present for no reason, which may be among the top five reasons I keep him around since he does it all the time. Second, he thinks I can wear a small! He thinks I can wear a small! He's not often wrong about things, but let me tell you, when he's wrong, he can be soooooo right. I squeezed my thighs through those leg holes like ground meat through a sausage press, but dammit if I wasn't going to make myself be a size S for the boy who is fully aware that I'm no size S, or size 1, as evidenced by his frequent serenades in the vein of "you can do side-bends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt..."

To this day, the underwear remains in my repertoire and is among my favorite gifts ever. When I wear them my legs turn purple and I have grooves in my cheeks for two days after, but what's that compared to knowing that I am in love with a man who will never answer honestly when I ask him, "Honey, does this make me look fat?"


The size 1 would make my day too! I'd have to be dead & rotting for it to be real, but still :)

Wow, that is some vanity sizing at its most vain, huh?

The underpants thing, that's very sweet of Simon. I doubt the Hulk would have any idea about what size underpants I wear (though he knows I don't wear butt floss).

From your photos, I would have guessed you for a 6.

I'm surprised you mentioned the double digits. For real.

I would like to contradict and clarify... I have promised Leah, at her request, that if something makes her look fat, I will not let her wear it. There is a phrase that can mean any of about ten different things. It can mean "it makes you look fat," or it can mean "that is an ugly piece of clothing," or it can mean "the cut is weird."

The magical phrase is: "that does not flatter you."

Men, I suggest you learn to say it in the tone that makes it work.


Kristin--My ass is large and in charge. I don't know if it's better or worse that my waist, torso, and arms are tiny. I guess it makes photo cropping easier...

I actually would have guessed a 4 or a 6 too, to tell you the truth.

Simon, I will have to pass on your wisdom. That's a great statement.

Artist/Band: Raitt Bonnie
Lyrics for Song: Women Be Wise
Lyrics for Album: The Bonnie Raitt Collection
Women be wise,
keep your mouth shut,
don't advertise your man
Don't sit around gossiping,
explaining what your good man really can do
Some women nowadays,
Lord they ain't no good
They will laugh in your face,
Then try to steal your man from you
Women be wise,
keep your mouth shut,
don't advertise your man

Your best girlfriend,
she might be a highbrow,
she changes clothes 3 times a day
What do you think she's doing now,
while you're so far away
She's loving your man in your own damn bed
You better call for the doctor, mama,
try to investigate your head
Women be wise, keep your mouth shut,
don't advertise your man

Women be wise, keep your mouth shut,
don't advertise your man
Don't sit around, girl,
telling all your secrets,
telling all those good things he really can do
If you talk about your baby,
you tell me he's so fine
Lord honey,
I just might sneek up and try to make him mine
Women be wise,
keep your mouth shut,
don't advertise your man

Don't be no fool,
don't advertise your man (baby don't do it)

You got designs on my boyfriend, man? I'll totally fight you for him.

Simon, "That does not flatter you" could, quite possibly, be the most brilliant answer to the question, "Does this make me look fat?"

You don't happen to have a twin on the East Coast now, do you?

Leah! Lucky girl! And I, too, have been the beneficiary of mis-labelled things. It ROCKS.

Simon, "That does not flatter you" could, quite possibly, be the most brilliant answer to the question, "Does this make me look fat?"

You don't happen to have a twin on the East Coast now, do you?

Leah! Lucky girl! And I, too, have been the beneficiary of mis-labelled things. It ROCKS.

I swear to baby Jeebus that the People In Charge Of Clothing Sizes have gotten together in some bizarre plot to make clothes buying nearly impossible for me. Sometimes I'm a 10. Sometimes I'm an eight. And sometimes, for heaven's sake, I'm a four. A FOUR. If I'm a four, pigs can fly. But yet, I have three--count 'em, THREE--skirts that tell me I'm a four.


Wear that size 1 with pride, Leah! I find it funny that we have all speculated about your dress size. Doesn't that make you feel so loved? Because you are. :)

I can't believe that there are no gold star handouts for being able to identify the "you can do side-bends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt..." reference.

Well, he's cute enough Leah. But I meant the song lyrics as more of a general warning than a personal challenge.
I don't want to mess with you... :-)

Having a man around can be a lot like caring for a child. I refer to my husband as my "man toddler," although he honestly probably knows more about city shorts and gauchos than I do!

I have a size 4 dress hanging in my closet. Everything else in my wardrobe is 3 times that number. That dress makes me feel good.

This post was way too funny! Ain't nothing wrong with a little bit of back!

Oh yeah, I like leggings. Don't own any yet because I haven't shrunk my thighs enough. But when I do, I'm so buying a pair or 12.

Tim - That's because that lyric is a no-brainer for any baby who's got any back whatsoever. In fact, I think one can get their big ole butt kicked out of the club for not knowing the club anthem.

~Packing more than a little junk in the trunk, and proud...

Totally would have picked you out as a size 6 or so. Are sizes different down there? Hm...

I totally LOVE Simon's comment, "that doesn't flatter you" is such a sweet way of telling you that you look like crap. It's true, I wouldn't be upset if a guy said that.

I have to agree that "that doesn't flatter you" or something similar is a good phrase to know. However, it's about ALL the fashion we men need to know. Keeping up with it would detract too much from discovering new music, finding the perfect microbrew and becoming an expert at burping the Pledge of Allegiance. Plus, some of has have babies that stil need diapers and stuff. These are a few of my favorite things ...

the "doesn't flatter you" is a very nice way to get around that minefield of a question. of course this all begs the question of whether it's fair to be asked that question to begin with.

the "baby got back" thing is funny because just today via msn's front page there was something about top wedding guest gripes, and this was one of them:

"I was at a wedding in Malibu and it was beautiful... until the DJ let it rip with 'Baby Got Back.' It must have been the bride's request, since she and her gaggle of friends began squealing and ran onto the dance floor. There she was, in her beautiful white Vera Wang wedding gown, with her hand in the air and her ass swinging back and forth. It was nasty. I'm not Miss Proper, but it just seemed out of place to be rump-shakin' at your own wedding." -- Colleen, 33

I thik Colleen may be a bit too uptight.

(resisting the temptation to joke about newgyptian's trunk...i may want to return to cairo one day :) )

"ground meat through a sausage press"
Lovely visual for the day.

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