At work this morning, I meet Molly, the daughter of a coworker. She is an adorable little person with big, curious eyes and long ponytail the color of honey. She is polite, and says, “I am very pleased to meet you,” in a careful voice, as if reciting it from a script. She lives on the 6th floor of her building, and enjoys drinking milk while watching cartoons.
I wish I could spend the day talking to her, sitting on the floor and coloring in books, discussing the finer points of cartoons, munching on cookies, and seeing the world the way she sees it.
As she talks to me, her eyes flick from my hair to my arms to my legs, which she points to with a tiny, pink-painted fingernail. “Why does your leg have a pattern on it?” she asks.
“That’s my pantyhose,” I say, stretching the material away from my leg, then letting it spring back.
She ponders this very carefully, tilts her honey-colored ponytail to one side. “Why do you wear it?” she asks.
I want desperately to come up with a good answer for her, something that explains the way things turn out when you grow up, something that explains the strange things that grown up women sometimes do, like wear pantyhose, or mascara.
I realize that everything Molly sees makes an impression on her, and without even meaning to, I have made an impression, sent her a message. I wish I could tell her that she is a perfect little creature, and that she shouldn’t ever act as silly as I have, with my pantyhose, my blush, my mascara.
So I say to Molly, “I guess I don’t know why I wear it.”
She looks at me, then back at my legs, and scrunches her eyebrows in thought, as if she knows there is more to the story, and that she’s not entirely sure she likes the way it ends.
I’m inclined to agree with her.