Friday, May 13, 2011

My Dirtiest Little Secret....

For years, I’ve struggled with self-loathing over this fact, but I'm going to admit it. I love Martha Stewart.

Sometimes, I actually buy and read her magazine. But I always feel the need to hide it, as if it were some especially weird porn (which, let’s face it, it kind of is). Maybe the masochist in all of us loves to fantasize about all those decoupage centerpieces we know we’ll never actually make?

I feel about Martha Stewart the way I used to feel about Glamour and Cosmo, and any other mags that promised “Thin Thighs by Next Thursday!” or “The Hidden Secret to Being LESS GROSS Than You Already Are!”  As far as I can tell, these magazines are masterminded by Gitmo prisoner-intimidation specialists. The editors somehow know how to make even the most mentally healthy women (and who are they, exactly??) feel just awful about their appearance. That way, said women will run out and buy more makeup, or Sketchers ShapeUps (which I talked about here), or land-based missiles, or whatever else the advertisers happen to be hawking.

After many years as a closeted “women’s lifestyle & entertainment mag” addict, I finally decided to break the cycle and stop buying those diabolically absorbing, yet mind-numbing publications. That’s around the time I started secretly sneaking Martha Stewart Living into the shopping cart. I often feel the need to cover it with less embarrassing items, such as a giant box of Depends or a gallon-sized tub of Preparation-H cream.

I turned to Martha Stewart because self-esteem, like nature, abhors a vacuum. In the way that fashion mags point out all the ways you don’t look good enough, Martha tactfully sheds light on all your failings as a home decorator, chef, and human being.

At a certain point in our lives, we may come to accept our thighs and our hair-frizz levels and our “skillz” in the boudoir. There may even have been a full week or so, probably around your 30th birthday, when you feel pretty darn good about yourself. That’s when you’ll suddenly look around your house or apartment in horror, and realize, “there are no pin cushions shaped like tomatoes in my home!”

You’ll suddenly feel the need to carve and shellac your own napkin rings made out of driftwood you collected on the beach. Before, your napkins may have gone unrestrained. Like Adam and Eve after the fall, you now know that your table napkins are nude. But don’t worry. Saint Martha will show you The Way.

Yes, she’ll show you how to make those tomato-shaped pin cushions, or bunny fold your napkins for Easter, and/or when you have a bunch of Playboy Playmates over for dinner. 

Party favors, a.k.a. "symptoms"
Unlike myself, my mother is one of those people who can and actually does the kind of stuff that you read about/see/hear via Martha. For instance, for an upcoming DAR meeting, she made flower-topped cylindrical candy-holders as favors for each of the expected guests. These are made out of cut-up paper towel rolls, which are then wrapped in tissue paper and somehow fashioned to look like flowers.

Somehow, this gene missed me entirely. I’m more likely to pilot the first manned mission to Mars than to ever successfully fashion a flower out of decorative pastel tissue paper and a toilet paper roll. It’s not that I’m opposed to the concept, I’m just mentally incapable of executing such a project. I’d rather write an essay about the cosmic and temporal symbolism of tissue-paper flowers in our briefly fleeting lives. Admittedly, it is harder to wrap miniature chocolates in a maudlin essay, but, hey.

“At my funeral, there better be good favors,” Mom once said, joking-but-not-joking, in her South Carolina drawl (for you Yankees: think, Dixie Carter from Designing Women). “I want ‘em wrapped in black tissue paper, sealed with a frowny-face sticker.”

I think this might actually be stipulated in her will. 

In the meantime, I’m encouraging my mother to eat well, and exercise. I have no idea how I’d make all those favors by myself.


  1. Dearest Cousin,

    I also encourage my Aunt (your mutha) to engage in activities guaranteeing her immortality.

    However, if/when our luck runs out, please know that I AM HERE for you...I was born with a mutation of the "making stuff out of crap" gene!! It's the only possible explanation for becoming a primary school teacher :-)


    Your Cousin

  2. Kitty, I'm glad one of us has that gene! I unfortunately took after the side of the family that can pontificate about Craft Theory, but with zero ability to actually make anything with my hands (except using them to emphasize words while talking)...