So there you are at the party and you’re looking around at all these beautiful and accomplished women, women who, just like you, are moms in their 40’s, but who, not like you, appear confident and at ease. The hair is done. The teeth look good (you probably have shrimp shells in your teeth). The outfits are well-coordinated and, better yet, ironed (you are at this moment hoping you remembered underwear).
Someone is telling you a joke and for once you get it and you are laughing along with everyone else. It is really funny. So funny that you are actually shaking with laughter. You are trying hard not to spill your Merlot, and you are internally cursing yourself for not having the Chardonnay because it won’t stain the hostess’s carpet.
Which brings us to her house. High ceilings. Hardwood floors. Granite counters. Built-in surround sound (when did homes morph into movie theaters?). This house is perfect: why wouldn’t it be?
Who are these people, you ask yourself, these intelligent and magnetic women who have somehow (miraculously) included you in this gathering?
Oh yeah—your friends.
You look around the room and you realize you know so many little secrets about them individually, like a giant net of secrets that holds everyone tightly in place and you can still see through and see them. Your friends.
Elizabeth had her first marriage annulled (no one in this room is aware that Elizabeth was married a first time). Grace had an abortion when she was 17 (Grace’s mom doesn’t know this). Angela just got fired (she told you before she told her husband). Lisa wishes she didn’t have her fourth child (she confides that now her family is heavily in debt). Janelle used to struggle with anorexia (she still does).
They trust you. They tell you things, things you do not repeat.
Then why can’t you trust them to tell you about the shrimp shells?
You wonder if they know that you are really masquerading as a smart witty charming pulled-together mom, because underneath your cashmere sweater you do not feel like any of those things. You feel like a small child who has put on her mother’s too-big high heels and too-red lipstick.
(“Masquerade Or Verity”)