Since I can't remember a time in my life that didn't include red-faced memories, it had to have started when I was young, this business of blushing pink or red or fuchsia or heaven forbid -- magenta. The purple overtones in that particular shade would mean I'm about to keel over and burst into flames from sheer overexposure to attention. But surely there was a time, pre-blushing, in which an innocent little Heavenly Sarah lived without fear of pink cheeks.
I've wondered if the blushing grew as a reaction to being self-conscious, or if the self-consciousness developed in response to the blushing. The chicken or the egg scenario. Because nothing says LOOK AT ME like a hot red face, are you with me? One of these days I might spontaneously sprout a neon sign over my bright, embarrassed face just to demand the attention of any wayward stragglers. It's not like they'd want to miss The Reddest Face Of All Time, and who am I to deprive them of that particular gawker's delight?
And gawkers are the funniest people when it comes to red faces. The comment I get most often is 'Whoa. Your face is RED!" Like I didn't know already. "Are you serious! Huh. And here I thought the sound of blood rushing through my eyeballs was because I was about to go blind. I thought the heat and beads of sweat were due to my really high metabolism!" But I can't blame them, their statements are harmless, right? Simple truth-telling, right?
Wrong. Because the utterance of those words will escalate any simple blush through successive phases of coloring until the dreaded magenta is reached. Poof. It's like a magic trick: the gawkers' words have all the power of a well-timed Abracadabra when it comes to making my cheeks hotter. Not hot like accidentally ingesting jalapeno seeds. Not hot like getting a new haircut, facial, and complete wardrobe makeover. Not hot like playing outside on a summer day and needing a dip in the pool to cool off.
Hot like lava erupting from my pores. And it's not only in my face, lucky for the world. The redness I emit starts at my sternum, flows over my shoulders, up my neck, into my head, and out my ears. I checked once, and the bare scalp in my parted hair was red, too. I'm just lucky my hair is dark, or I'm sure I'd have the power to turn blonde hair pink.
But this post wasn't supposed to be about me. It's really about my sweet, sweet daughters and their likelihood of inheriting my thin skin and fiery embarrassability. As much as I desperately don't want them to be stricken with my blushable skin tone, it seems inevitable. Even so, I've been holding out hope that they'd get their handsome daddy's skin -- it doesn't blush well. It's calm and collected and not confused in the least about what color it was born to be.
My hopes were quietly dashed a few days ago when friend of ours walked into the same crowded lunchtime restaurant as us, and stood in line to order. Mia spotted her and wanted to catch her attention to say hello. She yelled across the dining room with her 4-year-old voice, waving and smiling shyly. I glanced at Mia as our friend joined us, and there, on my sweet little girl's face, was a blooming pinkness. It overtook her cheeks, her forehead, her temples. She tucked her chin under and let her hair fall across her face, grinning and hiding at the same time.
I almost couldn't look away. The pink was...beautiful. It was a glow. It was stunning. Her excitement and shyness had combined into the most lovely color on her purely innocent face. She radiated youth and life and perfection.
Remembering myself, I tore my eyes away from my little girl. Wherever I go, I avoid staring at other people's embarrassments -- a habit borne from hoping people won't acknowledge my embarrassments -- and this situation was no different, ultimately. My daughter had drawn attention to herself by yelling across the crowded room. She'd been addressed by the person to whom she'd yelled. She'd been filled with self-awareness, and it manifested itself in a blush on her sweet cheeks.
The die has been cast. Rather, it was cast upon her conception when my genetic material was proud enough and forceful enough to demand re-creation in her new life, but still; now it's clear to the world: she will be a blusher.
It just fascinates me that I thought the pinkness was beautiful. Stunning, even. It gives me hope that maybe blushing is endearing after all.
It certainly is on her. Now I just have to figure out a way to have NO one, EVER, in the enTIRE course of her LIFE, point it out to her.
Because then all magenta will break loose.