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Lauren Green: We strive for health, wealth and perfection, but our shared boo boos bind us more tightly

By Rebecca ChristophersonJune 10, 2024No Comments

Lauren Green: We strive for health, wealth and perfection, but our shared boo boos bind us more tightly

By Lauren Green

On Tuesdays, I volunteer at a school in Haltom City reading with Spanish-speaking kindergarteners. Unfortunately, I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, but the kids and I somehow manage to communicate despite this ironic matchup.

On a recent Tuesday, I was standing in the doorway waiting for the students in my small group to line up. One little girl, about three kids back, kept trying to get my attention. Waving her hand back and forth in front of my face, she was insistent that I see the bandage on her finger. I oohed and ahhed over her boo boo, figuring she would relish the sympathy. But sympathy was not what she was after. Grabbing my shirttail to reassert herself, she pointed to her bandage and then gently touched another one; the one wrapped around my thumb.

I’d put a fresh bandage on my thumb just that morning. Three days prior, my husband and I had hosted our daughter’s wedding. The festivities included a full weekend of scheduled events, emotional outpourings and a revolving door of our dearest friends and family. It was everything we could have hoped for, and the weekend sped by stress-free. But on that following Tuesday, the raw, bleeding skin under my bandage told a different story.

The first time I remember stress-gnawing on my thumb was just before the homecoming parade my sophomore year of college. That year, it was my job to put together our sorority’s float. My tiny Southern Indiana school was hardly renowned for its homecoming parades, so it was easy to push this responsibility to the back burner. But parade day eventually loomed on the calendar.

Frantically, I bribed every friend in my sphere to help me fling together a shoddy float. All the while, I took to nibbling the side of my thumbnail — a subconscious attempt, I guess, to keep the panic at bay. The parade came and went and that float was truly an embarrassment. My sorority sisters and I suffered humiliation from my lack of planning, but nowhere could you find greater suffering than on the flesh of my right-hand thumb. For days after the parade, it was a chewed-up mess.

Flash forward 30 years to my daughter’s wedding. Thanks to an incredibly organized daughter and future son-in-law (plus a well-worth-her-fee wedding planner), there were very few last-minute scrambles.

Everything moved along according to plan as the wedding day approached. But if you happened to see my gnarled, bleeding thumb a few days later, it’s safe to say that preparing for that major life event probably resulted in more anxiety than I care to admit.

On that Tuesday, in the doorway of the kindergarten classroom, the physical reminder of my wedding-weekend anxiety was covered up neatly under my bandage. I was sporting my still-fresh mother-of-the-bride manicure. I was wearing my favorite green blazer that everyone says is my color. And as always, I was flashing my best smile to all of the kids lining up to meet with me. Yet the thing that little girl noticed first was the flesh-colored bandage wrapped around my thumb; and she wanted me to know that she had one too.

I once had a conversation with an editor about the target demographic of his magazine. The way I remember it, he shared that his average reader was a 54-year-old woman who doesn’t necessarily want to look like a 54-year-old woman.

I can certainly relate; I admit I probably spend more time trying to even out, firm up and trim off parts of my body even though they happen to be working quite well. Yet wouldn’t it be nice if there was a substantial market of women (and men) of all ages who just want to present themselves as is?

It sounds good in principle, but that would require some pretty radical transparency, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about exposing my raw, tender parts to the world.

Even so, I appreciate subtle acknowledgments. The empathetic smile exchanged with a fellow patient sitting across from me in a waiting room. The barely perceptible chin nod given to another predawn runner, huffing and puffing equally hard as me. The mutual admiration shared with another beach-goer, both of us sporting age-appropriate skin; bumps, lumps, sags and all.

Of course to some extent, we all strive for health, wealth and perfection. This is what motivates us to read certain magazines, after all. Still, it seems to me that our well-oiled shiny parts don’t seem to bind us together nearly as tightly as the way our shared boo boos do.

THE DETAILS

Lauren Green and her expanded family of five have called the Southlake area home for over 17 years. Her thumb is healing nicely but, nevertheless, she keeps her bandage stash close by. Just in case. You can reach her at laurenwebbgreen@gmail.com.