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The me in my head 

Imposed reality of a too-small chair

The bruises on my ass are not from having hot buffalo sex like Grant would have you believe. Not that I have ever willingly shown Grant my ass -- Lord, get that out of your head -- but there's not much I can do when he keeps peeking through the curtains while I try on all the vintage cocktail dresses he picks out for me when we troll thrift stores.

"I hope you had some fun bruising up your ass like that," he'd said.

"Get out!" I shrieked at him, and he did, but not before handing me something his own mother had probably worn at a pool party when he was 8. Grant is always trying to dress me like his mother from the '70s, though, admittedly, she is a stylish woman.

"I have a picture of me and my mother both twirling batons, posing like this," Grant said, arching his back, kicking his leg up and extending his arm out front with his fingers flayed. "I will treasure it forever."

"Really?" I asked, almost actually kind of quasi-charmed at the thought of Grant as a young boy tossing batons with his mom. "When was the picture taken?"

"Last week," he answered, pitching me another cocktail dress.

I don't know who Grant sees when he looks at me, but these dresses would have fit me better back before I had bruises on my ass, back when I had an entirely different ass, one that weighed at least 15 pounds less than the one I have now. That ass would look awesome in these cocktail dresses, which, of course, I bought on Grant's insistence. Now they're hanging in my closet with the rest of the stuff I won't wear but refuse to toss, clothes that still fit the me in my head, and as long as I don't try them on again the me in my head will match the me in the mirror.

But it's just a matter of time before that illusion clashes with reality. Like the other day, when I went to Barnes & Noble with my 7-year-old. They have small chairs in the kids' section of Barnes & Noble, sturdy little brightly colored Adirondack chairs with armrests and everything. When I looked at those chairs it must not have occurred to me that I wasn't a child myself, because the me in my head had no problem with directing my butt to plunk itself right in one. The chair objected, though, and now I have these two bruises that run like stripes on either side of my rear, marking the spots where the sturdy little Adirondack armrests refused to allow my ass passage to the seat beneath them. The bruises are so straight they look like they've been drawn on by a plastic surgeon or something. "In order for the you in your head to match the you in reality," this plastic surgeon is saying, "you'll need to get rid of everything outside these lines."

Looking back, I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, surely, eventually something was gonna occur to make me start seeing myself as I actually am, as opposed to the me I thought I was. Grant always says the truth will set people free, "but first it will piss them off." I wouldn't say I was pissed so much as just curious; like how long might I have gone, I thought, not knowing that I'm not the me I used to be, and who would it have harmed if I never came to know any differently?

Because what keeps coming up in my head now that the me in my head no longer occupies space there is that photograph of Grant and his mother, the one where they're both posing with batons, their backs arched and their arms outstretched and their fingers gracefully flayed in front. Some people would look at that picture and probably see a 78-year-old grandmother and her mole-flecked, big-headed, twice-divorced, latent-gay son engaged in some tandem act of massive denial. I can hear the judgment right now. "Who do these two think they are? Do they not know how they look?"

But it's obvious these two don't care how they look to anybody but themselves and each other. In their minds they are still young and playful, and when I look at that picture, I see the majorette she used to be, and I see the incandescent child that Grant was as well. I see the elation on their faces, their love for each other and the them that is in their heads. There is no reason why this perception can't absolutely be as valid as any other.

And when Grant kept handing me vintage little cocktail shifts that someone a lot cuter should wear, I had to admit I liked the me that was in Grant's head a lot better than the one I'm stuck with now. Seriously, when the you in your head disappears, it's highly recommended to have someone you love close by to replace it. Later, as we were driving around, he pointed out a George Bernard Shaw quote on a sign above a toy store. "We don't stop playing because we grow old," it read, "we grow old because we stopped playing."

"So snap out of it," Grant said. He was right; just because your ass no longer fits in a child's chair doesn't mean the child in you is no longer there.

Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.

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