Imagine standing in the grocery check-out aisle. It’s an hour before your family’s dinner time. Your toes are crammed into pointy-tipped pumps with 2-inch heels, an underwire bra is digging into your rib cage, and the day’s business clothes are feeling more and more like a strait-jacket. The cashier is dawdling through the man’s purchases in front of you and you’re contemplating how to help Peter and Sarah get through their homework while conjuring up an edible meal. Right behind you in the line, a baby dressed in a pink romper held in her mother’s arms begins to whimper and then quiets. Suddenly, a golden glowing light filters through the store’s interior and a collective hush follows. Then tilt–as if encased in a snowglobe–everything looks momentarily upside down, a little askew, then starts to re-orient, as if the angles were reforming, the snowflakes settling.
A suspended silence follows. Looking down, you notice your feet are sporting comfy brown loafers. Your clothes have been replaced with a loose cashmere top and well-broken-in blue jeans. The dent-making underwire bra has been gratefully replaced by a buttery-soft silk undershirt. (Breasts, ribs and, toes rejoice in unison.)
You look around and your eyes halt at the tabloid rack where you see mostly men pictured on the covers. The headlines read: “The Hottest Tips to Drive Her Crazy in Bed,” “Five Things Every Man Should Know to Make His Woman Happy,” “30 Days to the Perfect 6-Pack,” “The Best Cut Suit to Hide Your Love Handles.” With a trembling right hand, you reach for the latest issue of Shape magazine. A highly-toned man in lycra running pants and snug tank top is smiling toward you and the headline reads: “Staying Slim: Three Miles, One Day at a Time.” A trickle of anxiety begins to pool in your belly, because you are either dreaming or have lost your mind buying pasta and fresh produce. However, the TV Guide cover advertising the annual Mr. America Contest clinches that you have indeed been transported to a Parallel Universe. Two men dressed in Speedo bathing suits with Mr. California and Mr. New York pendants are pictured striding down a catwalk. You can watch the program tonight at 8:00 p.m., EST.
You gather up your purchases, stuffing them willy-nilly into paper bags and drive home with sweaty-palms gripping the steering wheel. Upon entering the garage, you notice that your husband’s silver sedan is already in the other bay. Given that he usually works until 8:00 p.m. most nights at a corporate law firm, this is curious. The smell of roasting chicken wafts toward you as you enter the kitchen and there are Peter and Sarah seated at the peninsula, heads bent over their assignments. Your husband is answering a math question, while sauteing vegetables on the stovetop. The mail is neatly stacked on the marble counter-top and you do a double-take when you notice a copy of the Victor’s Secret mail order catalog on top. Snatching the catalog, while saying a distracted hello to the family, you excuse yourself to the bathroom and lock the door.
Sure enough, Victor is none other than Victoria’s buff and mostly naked brother modeling underwear. You shake your head back and forth, as if to return to the other world. The world before the golden light infiltrated the lives of women and men as you’ve always known them to be.
Then with a slow exhale, you stretch your toes out long and full in your loafers, shift around in your cozy sweater, and open the catalog. Hey, dinner is just about ready and maybe it is your turn for a break.