Little Cousin came over for my birthday party. I brought out my bags of Care Bears and the last strawberry that contains the Strawberry Shortcake dolls. We also bought a coloring book.
"She's just so pretty," Mom sighed to Cousin while we ate.
"I know," Cousin replied. "She knows that she can just smile at me when I'm annoyed with her and I'll start to laugh. She's just too darn cute!"
In fact, she is a very pretty child, though I acknowledge that it's likely we think so because she's one of us. Her features and coloring match what I'd expect from our families and the curls atop her head aren't all that different from Little One's. She was also mostly good, running around to chase the monster (that'd be my Chienne who was willing to trot around the house, mostly confused about what was happening), coloring on the floor, and bandaging her parents with paper towels after giving them shots or noticing they were wounded.
"It hurts! It hurts!" Jay exclaimed after being told he was bleeding from his finger. Little Cousin wrapped the pretend-injured digit in layers of paper towel. When he continued to play along with whimpers of pain, she patted his shoulder seriously, looked in his eyes and said, "It's OK, Daddy."
After Friend had to be the new monster but before Little Cousin left for home, she showed Jay an extra bit of memory for my camera. I've long replaced it with something larger, and have this one sitting out for no apparent reason (I'm messy) in its plastic case.
"That's Aunt Katie's." Jay told her and instructed her to put it back where she found it.
"[Little Cousin]," Cousin soon said warningly, "you put that back, please." I looked around in confusion and Friend said, sounding rather impressed at Little Cousin's ability, that the memory had been neatly and quickly placed in a small pocket decorated with a big, purple button.
"I don't use it," I told Cousin quietly and she shook her head and repeated her order to replace the stolen item on the table. She soon sighed when her offspring blinked innocently across the room.
"Do you have any money so we can buy it back?" Jay asked. "A nickel maybe?"
"My mom does!" I cried upon seeing her purse next to me on the floor. "Here, Little Cousin. How about a quarter?"
"That's too much," Cousin protested before her daughter walked across the room.
"I want a dollar," she said quietly but firmly, having already abandoned the useless piece of memory when money was mentioned. I raised my eyebrows and started to giggle. Mom reached for her wallet, saw that the smallest bill she had was a $5 and handed it over.
"No, no," Cousin said, wiping tears from her eyes and trying to stop her laughter. "You don't have to give her that."
"She's never done that before," Jay assured us while we all continued to chuckle as Little Cousin accepted the bill from my mom, crumpled it up and put it in her pocket. Jay soon removed it without her noticing and offered it back to Mom.
"Put it in her piggy bank," she insisted and Cousin finally accepted it under protest. "We taught her to go get her piggy when people come over and show it to them so they'll give her change. But I don't remember telling her to demand more."
I think part of my mood of late - in general, not because of my recent birthday (Thank you again for all the birthday wishes! You're the best-est!) - is that I can no longer make simple statements. Or even make gentle requests. My appeal - coming from being cute or gorgeous or charming or some other quality that makes people melt - doesn't extend that far. People don't answer my emails. My statements that 'I want more experimental time,' or 'I need comments on this paper by Friday,' or 'Could you advise on your time line?' go unanswered.
A specific example involves Guy, my email friend. I rather liked his attention, though he's involved with someone else and the dynamic is nothing more than friendly. But he wrote well and he's a charming man in the right age bracket and it was nice to have some sort of tiny relationship with him. And while I didn't exactly have a crisis of confidence when his messages stopped, I was hurt and sad. It was because I'm not pretty, though I never claimed beauty. I must have grown boring or wrote something offensive. He no longer reads the blog, though a search brought him here several months ago, and while that's fine, it bums me out a little. Which is stupid, I know. I really do. But, still.
So when he did write again, I'm unsure as to how to weigh the pleasure of knowing him versus the depressing anticipating of losing contact with him. It just strikes at certain insecurities I've developed and makes me feel quite unappealing. So I guess the point is that I wish I was one of those women people couldn't refuse. That my attention was like a glowing orb of goodness and a single glance would be sufficient to keep people happy for weeks, so intense was my charm and beauty and overall appeal.
I am decidedly not one of those women. I have to trap Elusive at the end of seminars. I end up sending very pointed emails that demand responses. I'm tempted to jump up and down and throw tantrums that someone pay attention to me! And give me what I want! There is no toddling across the room toward a proffered quarter, blinking large eyes and saying that I'd rather have something larger.
Yet I suppose if I can't pull off such a thing, it's nice to see someone who can.