I didn’t plan to say it. It just tumbled out of my mouth. There was no premeditation or thought-out thesis statement. It was an unedited blurt of truth.
I was surprised I actually said it, but I had sat quietly long enough.
I’d had enough of feeling insecure and different at my kid’s school because my car isn’t a big old SUV, and my kid’s “dress-up” jeans come from Old Navy. Jesus, I couldn’t spend one more moment feeling “less than” just because I am not building a house on the lake or joining the exclusive health club that Oprah and Barack belonged to. I had no idea whether anyone else cared or even noticed these things.
What was most annoying was my own judgments. The minute I spotted a Lululemon logo on a mother’s garb, my mind automatically generated ideas about her biography and destiny. I packed decades of assumptions into a logo affixed to other women’s asses.
I was tired of my ruminations about other people’s “family money” or trust funds.
So, at lunch after the kids’ Halloween parade, surrounded by the women raising the children that my daughter is learning to play with and call “friends,” I surrendered my only weapon: pretending I didn’t notice the affluence. I simply couldn’t spend one more second acting like I wasn’t distracted by Kate Spade wallets tucked into Louis Vuitton purses on the shoulders of Patagonia thinsulate coats.
And somehow between ordering my tacos and talking about our largest piece of common ground — our preschool children — I grabbed a split second of silence and outed myself as someone who was terrified of all the wealth.
I never pictured myself saying anything about it. Why would I? I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to talk about that. If I had planned to take up the discussion, I would have made it sound genteel and polished. Something like, “Gosh, there seems to be a great deal of prosperity at our school.”
Instead, I said, “I was scared that ya’ll were going to be rich bitches.”
I said it. To them.
I had no idea where to go next. My only real plan was to be myself.
What followed wasn’t awkward silence. Neither did anyone rush to change the subject to “rescue” me from my social gaffe.
What followed was laughter– the knowing kind of laughter that happens when someone has finally said that thing, that one thing that seems unspeakable, even though it’s obvious to everyone.
I relaxed. I named the elephant that stood in the room next to me every single time I went to a school function. I was myself– messy, unedited, judgmental me.
And when it was time to pay the bill, I hardly noticed everyone else’s smooth, hand-stitched leather wallets; I didn’t waste time comparing them to my vintage, rag-tag LeSportSac multi-zippered pouch that holds my wadded-up money, my lipstick, and roughly 237 receipts I have stuffed next to my expired Visa debit card.
None of it mattered to me like it did before I said it. Something happened when I said that thing– I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.
Maybe I should be embarrassed for saying something so crass that betrays so much about my inner thoughts.
But, I’m not ashamed. I’m glad I said it.