The hair dryer clicked to silence, and I stood upright, flipping my blonde hair back, to peer into the mirror at my suddenly-volumized ‘do. With one hand, I tentatively fluffed my hair and quietly stared back at myself. My dad stood behind me holding the dryer and brush, poised to restyle. I made a “hmmm, not bad” face. Dad was pleased he had arisen to the challenge while Mom was out of town.
I was really good at hiding for a long time, and it has been a painful process to re-emerge. I still occasionally enter a crowded room and want to quickly retreat to a comfortable perch along a wall so I can observe others. I think I’m attractive (though a bit monochromatic), and a pleasant and fun pain in the ass to be around, but compliments never ever cease to take me by surprise, and I’ve operated under the assumption for over the last two decades that, outside friends and family, no one ever remembers me. When bumping into an acquaintance, I almost always introduce myself again to help them remember.
So, given my belief that most everyone has Lola-amnesia, you can imagine my shock when during a break at a seminar yesterday the instructor came up to me to inquire whether I’ve attended one of his seminars before:
Instructor: Did I pick on you?
Instructor: When was that?
Lola: Oh, about a year and a half ag—
Instructor [interrupting]: A YEAR AND A HALF AGO?! That was THOUSANDS of people ago! Wow! What a compliment!
I start to laugh, but he’s returned to the front of the room before a full giggle can escape my lips. Of course, I’m wondering who exactly the compliment is for, but after the class, he stops me again:
Instructor: I have to tell you, you should really be flattered. I never remember anyone.
And then he wandered off again to leave me standing there thinking that was one of the strangest (yet obviously thought-provoking) compliments I’ve ever received.
I suppose my self-image requires a tune-up, and I should start thinking like Little Lola again: I was a hot-shit 5-year-old with great hair; I’m a hot-shit 28-year-old with great hair, too. I’m smart enough, I’m cute enough, and doggonit, occasionally people remember me.