January: Confronting that Pesky Alter Ego, Ideal Self

If only I could keep her out of the stores…

Of all the popular fascination with zombies, vampires and unicorns, the most fearsome phantom in my mind is that smug wannabe Ideal Self, the one I imagine becoming every single January of every year. Something about the new year and the magazines in the checkout aisle incite me to imagine myself waking up tomorrow (always tomorrow)  being more organized, exercising regularly, and disdaining all refined sugars.

It would be okay if this fever passed, but I’ve noticed that it manifests itself in my purchases all year. These are the same purchases I am now having to purge or box into containers and wonder if I bumped my  head before I handed over my debit card. For example:

  • The one-shoulder dress I bought in Fairhope last year and intended to wear beachside as I enjoyed a seafood dinner. It was going to show off a little beach glow. Except I didn’t feel like dressing up for dinner after a day at the beach, so we wound up eating steamed shrimp on the balcony still in swimsuits. Are one shoulder dresses even a thing anymore? Did I miss that trend completely? So that’s why it was on sale…
  • The suede pumps that look great only I can’t walk in them after an hour. Do you still get fashion points if you’re immobilized? I do admire them on my shoe rack. They at least add texture and color to the lineup of completely unremarkable shoes in the closet.
  • The mini torch for carmelizing sugar on the creme brulees that never happened.
  • That three-tiered contraption for serving appetizers, assembly required. I would gladly assemble it for company if I remembered it at any time other than when I am in the cabinet looking for something else entirely.
  • The sophisticated sleepwear that makes me feel absolutely ridiculous. Surely even the husband couldn’t take this seriously. Get me my flannel pants and T-shirt quick, before a natural disaster evacuates me to the street in this get-up.

All of these purchases represent moments of weakness when I was seized with the desire to be a hostess, fashionable resort woman, lady at luncheon, and vixen. Rather than serve glorious torched desserts, I’ve made box mix cakes. Instead of striking a pose on glass and chrome escalators while wearing cute pumps, I’ve trekked super centers in rubber soled shoes. Instead of sipping a steaming mug of hot chocolate fireside at the ski resort, I’ve sat in the corner of Starbucks (sadly, the most glamorous of my indulgences) clutching a paper cup.

In conclusion, Ideal Self wastes my money and makes me feel bad. On the bright side, she is a great benefactor to the Salvation Army donation center, which is probably wondering what to do with the creme brulee propane torch in the bag of donations from my house.