I have long suspected that I am bad at being a woman. There are things that other women can do that I am terrible at. There are days that I go out wearing giant boys’ sweatpants, my dad’s old football sweatshirt and a red knit cap. I forget that I’m supposed to try to look nice. There are other days when I try really hard to look nice, and then I see about 50 girls on the subway who all are much better at it. Their outfits are both more original and more trendy. Their lipstick has not ended up on their teeth. They always have a drawer full of makeup somewhere, and they know what each type of makeup thingy does. They have an intimate knowledge of flirty, confident, suggestively withdrawn, adorable, fascinating body language. I am in awe. I wonder how they do it. In my head, I keep a growing list of things that women can do that are a mystery to me, in the hope that one day it will all make sense. One day, I will unlock their secrets. After the jump, some of the things woman do that I just don’t understand.
1. They wear power ponytails. You know, where it’s all sleek, and instead of a hair tie, there’s just more hair, wrapped around? And it’s pulled back tight, and little hairs don’t escape. Does no one have frizzy hair anymore?
2. Their hair is always the same. They have figured out their “look.” I don’t know how to have a “look.”
3. Their bra straps stay up. At least one of mine is always halfway down my arm and I am trying to surreptitiously fish it out while gracefully interacting with my husband’s boss at a holiday party. You can imagine how graceful that looks.
4. They say “no thank you” to dessert, and they mean it. I almost never say that, and when I do, it’s because I just ate half a pizza and I might barf if I eat more. And even then, I will share your dessert. Even if there isn’t a second spoon.
5. They are good at yoga. Downward facing what?
6. They never have sweat stains under their arms. Even in the summer, when they are wearing something long-sleeved. Because of this, they can wear white silk blouses without ruining them. Whereas I can’t imagine spending money on a white silk blouse. They are expensive, and I am a sweaty beast.
7. They almost never have a random hair growing on their chin for God-knows-how-long. Whereas I have one that sprouts and it takes me way too long to notice it’s there. Sometimes my husband points it out to me.
8. They never seem to have pubic hair when they wear a bathing suit. Where does it go? Waxing? Shaving? Sugaring? Magic?
9. They use girly razors and girly shaving cream and girly deodorant with pictures of pastel-colored flowers and butterflies on it. None of these things work for me. All of my personal hygiene products were made for men. Men seem to be expected to sweat and smell. I do both of these things a lot. Women, apparently, don’t.
10. Their legs are almost always smoothly shaved, without tons of little red bumps. Their legs are sometimes naked in the middle of winter, bump-free. That look is achieved with a girly razor, I think. I wouldn’t know.
11. They put their smooth legs into skinny jeans. Like, really skinny ones. I don’t understand how to get my legs in those things.
12. They buy (and maybe even use) perfume. This has to be true, because every pop star and clothing designer has a fragrance line, and someone other than misguided boyfriends must be keeping them in business. Once, a long time ago, I wrote some ad copy for a fragrance company. I had to smell the perfume first, to write about it. I smelled it, gagged, and then made some pretty-sounding stuff up. I think I said “jasmine kisses” or something. It was a lie.
13. They walk naturally in really high heels. Unless there’s a strap, the backs of my feet pop out of most high heels. I can’t tell if this is an issue with my arches, the shape of my feet, the texture of the skin on my heels, or just me, as a person. I really, really want to learn how to walk successfully in high heels. I think this would make me a lot sexier.
14. Their eyeliner goes around their whole eye in a smooth, uninterrupted line. They know how to pull back the tender skin on the bottom lid, exposing the pink, gory flesh under eyeball, just to draw that perfect line. I can barely write this without cringing and tearing up. Once, I got my makeup done in preparation for going to a really fancy party. It cost more than I could possibly have imagined beforehand, and I almost injured the woman who was trying to do my eyeliner. I also cried. I also almost blinded myself. And then I had to walk around in high heels all night. One of them popped off as I walked in the door.
15. They know what to do with their hands. When I don’t have pockets or a can of soda or a pen or a cat, I am at a total loss. I usually clasp them in front of me, and then wiggle each finger individually, and then wait for a dramatic pause to flip them over backwards, cracking all of the knuckles at once. It’s something to do.
16. Their boots are surprisingly delicate-looking. No matter what shape boot I purchase, I always look like I’m going on an all-terrain expedition.
17. They still have a lot of friends from college. Somehow they seemed to have weathered the post-college transition where friends move away, do weird crap with their lives and cease to have stuff in common with you.
18. They always seem to have new clothes. They are always wearing new outfits, even if you see them all the time. These outfits never include dad’s old football sweatshirt.