2015-03-26 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Bringing it out early, flaws and all

artis HENDERSON

My new beau, a writer who lives in New York, is coming to visit for a week. And I am petrified.

“It’s because you think he’s out of your league,” my mother says, and she’s right.

But it’s bigger than that. Here’s my dilemma: How do I hold it together for a full seven days? All the ugly parts of myself that I keep hidden over a long weekend are sure to come out over the course of a week. And then what?

My sense is that I’m not alone in this neurotic behavior. Many of us — women especially, but men, too — are terrified of revealing our flawed human side. To that end, we often limit our relationships to manageable bites of time so that we can continue being our optimum selves.

My optimum self has shaven legs, washed hair and neatly ironed clothes. She always smells nice, offers up a sweet disposition and has plenty of energy for listening to other people. She’s never selfish, tired or angry.

Of course, she’s not real. Not the real me, anyway. This version of myself is just someone I drag out when my boyfriend flies down for the weekend.

But now he’s coming for a weeklong visit, and I know he’ll see the me I’ve stashed away. Not the sunny, breakfast making, all-around pleasant girlfriend he thinks he’s scored, but the woman who can be a bear in the mornings, who likes plenty of alone time, who will never do his laundry. What happens then? I’m afraid to find out.

This past week, Carl, the man who is fixing up my house, came over to work on one of my projects. He painted while I pulled weeds, and we chatted about my relationship worries. Some- times I think I’m paying him to be my therapist, and all the work he does around the house is just a bonus.

When the sun came out and started to burn my face, I ducked into the house to grab my gardening hat, an old floppy number that does nothing for my sex appeal.


— Artis Henderson is the author of “Unremarried Widow” published by Simon and Schuster. — Artis Henderson is the author of “Unremarried Widow” published by Simon and Schuster. “This,” I said to Carl, pointing to the hat as I stepped back outside, “will not be making an appearance next week.”

I thought he’d smile. I was sure he’d say, “Good idea.”

But instead, he just shook his head and said, “You want to bring that out early.”

“This?” I asked. I pointed to the hat again, thinking maybe he misunderstood.

He nodded. “You want him to see the real you, don’t you?”

I laughed and went back to my gardening. Of course I don’t want him to see the real me.

But later I thought Carl might have a point. What’s the use in keeping our true selves hidden?

It all comes out eventually. This new beau is bound to discover that I’m not a great housekeeper, that I love my yard an embarrassing amount, that I secretly wish I had a house full of cats.

Better to reveal that early, I suppose. That way, at least he’ll know what he’s getting into. Ugly hats and all. ¦

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