Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover - Or a Heroine by Her Shoes by Mackenzie Crowne

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” ~ Maya Angelou

Like so many writers, my inspiration often comes from bits and pieces of real life. As part of my research, I’m a voracious people watcher. Which hasn’t always been a comfortable thing. For example, I used to be intimidated by those women I’d see out in the world who seem to have it all together – all the time.

© Adobe Stock
You know who they are, the well-dressed babes floating into the upscale stores at the mall, while you share a corn dog with your kids on a bench, spitting on a Kleenex to wipe the mustard off the four-year-old’s chin and barking at the eight-year-old to get out of the fountain before security arrives. You sit there in your discount store garb, looking with longing at those modern day princesses, and suffer the sting of inferiority over their utter confidence, stylishly streaked hair, model thin bodies, and perfectly made up faces belonging on magazine covers...

And you hiss with jealousy…or is that just me?

Okay, I’m taking artistic license here. These days, I’m actually a grandmother — a really young one 
— and no longer easily intimidated. My kids are grown and life has calmed down somewhat since those days at the mall. I admit, I clean up nicely when I take the time, but I lived the corn dog existence I just described, and those years weren’t pretty, believe me. They were, however, instructive and liberating. Somehow through the chaos of raising my little family, my fascination for perfection became less important as I discovered life is messy and learning to cope in the world of not-so-perfect not only builds character, it makes you strong.

My epiphany came in the middle of a women’s clothing department as I stood witness to the horror of two women. Both had lost track of their child. Can you say nightmare? If this has ever happened to you, you know how scary it can be. My oldest turned 30 last month and I’m still mad at him for hiding in that rack of robes when he was four. The little $#*%!

© Adobe Stock
Anyway, one of the women that day looked a lot like me. Her t-shirt didn’t have a designer label and she wore jeans frayed at the cuffs and faded from too many washings. She wore flip flops instead of Jimmy Choos and her air was piled in a messy knot at the top of her head, her makeup, non-existent. Alternately, the second woman, a modern day princess in linen, could have held office in the hallowed halls of Washington DC. She reeked of confident power and sexy strength, looking as if she’d stepped off the pages of Vogue — until she turned my way and revealed the mascara blackening her eyes and marking the pathway of her frantic tears.

After freezing like a deer in the headlights, the princess fell apart, racing through the department and pleading for help at the top of her lungs. In contrast, Miss Jeans calmly hushed the toddler on her hip and opened her mouth. “Marco!” she called out. For a second there, I thought she might be having a mental breakdown, until, from the other side of the department a child’s voice called back, “Polo!”

It was a thing of beauty, I tell you, and I still chuckle at the memory.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all Princesses are helpless in an emergency, any more than all Plain Jane’s are a force to be reckoned with, but at that moment, I made two startling realizations. First, that whole, don’t judge a book by its cover thing is good advice. And second, strength is sexy, no matter the package it comes in.
~~~

Mac writes contemporary romance with a side of sass. You can find her strong heroines and larger-than-life-heroes where ever books are sold or at her home on the web at

14 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

Oh, man, now that it's 30-some years too late, I wish I'd thought of the whole Marco Polo thing!

When I was younger, I couldn't afford to dress in nice clothing and now I'm too cheap. And, I guess, there are so many things that are so much more important.

I enjoyed your post.

Margo Hoornstra said...

What a great story. Love your insight. We all certainly have been there. Yours hid under a clothes rack too!

Diane Burton said...

What is it about clothes racks that make such excellent hiding places? Mine did it, too. Love the Marco Polo thing. Never would've thought of that. Great story. Re: discount store clothing. Been there, and still do. Necessity in the past. Like Liz, now too cheap (mostly) to shop elsewhere. I have better things to buy, like books. :)

Jannine Gallant said...

LOVE the Marco Polo! I don't think I lost mine in a store until they were teens. I had them paged when I was in the check out line. That sure did embarrass them!

RE Mullins said...

This cracked me up as (so I'm told) I loved to play, 'lost little girl' in the stores. I'd hide under clothing racks from my mother and watch as she frantically tried to find me. She's says it took a number of spankings before I gave the game up. Can you say, "brat?"

Leah St. James said...

What a great message, Mackenzie! I can definitely relate to your corn-dog existence. Been there, done that...including the now 32-year-old kid hiding in the clothing rack. As I type this, I'm in the lounge of the Iowa City Sheraton (here for a wedding yesterday), sitting across from a sweatsuit-clad mom trying to get her toddler son to eat a few bites of yogurt. Instead he's trying to eat a banana, through the skin. :-) Thanks for reminding us that sexy and strong are so much more than what appears on the outside.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Well said, Mac. One of the reasons I chose not to have children was because I'd be too controlling...my poor kid would be saddled with a helicopter mom and never take flight his/herself. Great moms need to be calm, clever and give a measured/graduated freedom to a kid. As a high school teacher and principal, I studied thousands of parents. I am in awe of the Marco Polo mother...and my sister, and my sister in law. But the strength/dedication it takes...wow!

But, dang, you left me pining for the taste of a corn dog!

Vonnie Davis said...

I've never eaten a corn dog. Can I still be sexy? Don't answer that. Loved your post, as always.

andreadowning.com said...

Great post Mac. And I hate women who can wear all white and never get it dirty...

Satyam Hair transplant said...

Well written Mac. Love this. Now guys if anyone of you want the hair transplant surgery then visit on teh given link and directly book your appointment.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lol sounds like there are quite a few corn dog moms in this group. You can be one too, Vonnie. It's an attitude not an action. Sorry I'm just now commenting and briefly at that, but I'm in the mountains with little internet. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone. Yeah, and I'm a little confused about that hair transplant thing. :-)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Lol sounds like there are quite a few corn dog moms in this group. You can be one too, Vonnie. It's an attitude not an action. Sorry I'm just now commenting and briefly at that, but I'm in the mountains with little internet. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone. Yeah, and I'm a little confused about that hair transplant thing. :-)

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, I love this story! It really does show you can't tell a lot about a person by their appearance. Ha, I know what you mean. My 30 year old daughter got away from me several times when she was small. Once was at an airport. You talk about terrifying! (I promise, I wasn't neglectful, it didn't happen with my other two. Lacey was just a very scatter-brained and curious child and perhaps a bit evil. She'd escape any chance she had. :))

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Mac,
I'm also the corn dog person. Although I wear sneakers not flip flops. Loved your observation and the mother. Thanks for sharing.