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Sparkle in the Mud December 24, 2021

ooooh. shiny.

Generally speaking, I’m not what you’d call fancy.  If you have the misfortune of seeing me on the weekend you might think to yourself, “I mean, is she going out of her way to look bad?  Did she look in her closet and find the sloppiest, most mismatched schmattas[1] she could locate and put them on in an effort to look not just ‘housing insecure’ but mentally ill?”

The answer is no.  I’m going for comfort, and since the only people who are going to lay eyes on me are people who have already decided to love me, they understand that t-shirts are unspeakably soft after the 7,297,274th washing, and sweatpants/leggings love Cheez-Its as much as I do.

Keeping that in mind, I also love sparkles.  I have a tiara collection, and I’ve been known to wear them, much to the humiliation of my adult children.  And I usually have my nails done. 

I think about this anomaly a lot.  At this very moment I am wearing a t-shirt from college which helpfully has a date on it from an event (September 24, 1990); a pair of fleece pants with stars and moons on them; a pair of slippers I was going to crochet for someone else as a holiday present, but then I ran out of wool halfway through the second slipper so I finished it off with another color that is *almost* the same[2]; a cheetah-print bathrobe; and a white cotton headband that keeps sliding down the back of my enormous, pumpkin-sized head. 

My nails, however, look fabulous.  Four of them on each hand are a red that is officially called ‘sealed with a kiss’ but I would have called ‘maraschino cherry’ if I were naming it.  My ring fingers are a high glitter gold.  I have man-sized hands (though they do not have hair on them, thank God, because more or less the rest of my body has a pelt) so the nails themselves give a very large canvas upon which to paint.

Every time I get them done, I think, “This is so stupid.  So frivolous.”  I sit there in silence, feeling slightly ridiculous as I pay good money for another adult to scrape off the old polish, shape them, and put on some new variation on sparkle.  I wonder what made us, as a culture, start doing this. It serves no good purpose beyond preening, which is arguably not in and of itself a good purpose.  If an alien race were to come down from another solar system and witness us doing this, it would probably be written up in their anthropology books as some kind of weird ritual.  Just like we think it is funny when birds put tinsel in their nests, a superior race that has figured out interstellar travel would fo’ sho’ think painting my useless talons was, at best, cute.

And then, every time, I come to the same conclusion.  The pointlessness of it is, in fact, the point.  So much of my life is deliberate and purposeful.  I work a ridiculous number of hours.  When I’m not working, I’m still usually working, cooking or cleaning or doing laundry or tending to the needs of the ever-increasing number of mammals who need my tending[3].      

Having my nails done makes me happy.  Catching the iridescent/holographic sparkle of a piece of glitter trapped in enamel on my nail in the light of the sun or an overhead lamp makes me smile.  Seeing one thing on this lumpy body that can consistently be tamed into submission, pleases me.  It does not matter why.  It only matters that it does.

Thankfully, I have enough means that I do not go into debt for this dumb habit.  I am contributing to my local economy and doing no harm.  In a world with negative yuckiness like pandemics, hunger, crime, and social media, why shouldn’t I do something that has a singular purpose: to make me happy?

So, if you can find me in the pile of fleecy blankets and shapeless sweatshirts I’m wearing this winter, you will also likely find a little bit of shine, and maybe even a grin for no apparent reason at all.    

[1] ‘Schmatta’ is a Yiddish word that means, literally, ‘rag’, but is often used to describe a rag-like garment, shapeless and worn. 

[2] They’re warm and snug but seriously funny looking.

[3] Husband, children, dog, etc. 

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook or read her award winning books.  Her newest book, a Foreword INDIES Gold Medal award winner, “If You Did What I Asked In The First Place” is currently available by clicking here.

Sparkle in the Mud


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Sparkle in the Mud


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Lori Duff

Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side.  Her latest book, "If You Did What I Asked in the First Place" was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.

Sparkle in the Mud December 24, 2021