“Even tuna noodle casserole looks good on your best china,” says the article. “Light the candles, pour some wine, use the good silver, and fool everyone! Presentation is everything!”
It’s yet another article telling me that, with the right accessories, make-up, and attitude, my canned tuna self can pass for wild-caught salmon.
Why am I drawn to self-help menus?
In truth, I love tuna noodle casserole. These days, I substitute sour cream and fresh shiitakes for the condensed soup, but crushed-up potato chips on top are a given. When feeling frisky, I use those wonderfully awful crunchy fried onions; it’s a good excuse to eat half a can of them.
Here’s food for thought: My mother’s tuna casserole was perfect unto itself. We didn’t need deceiving dinner table embellishments.
While dabbling in personal embellishment today, I have a Moment. All the early mornings of my life stretch behind me. There I am, day after day, month after month, decade after decade, peering nearsightedly into a mirror, holding a mascara wand.
What vain and foolish hope is this?
There is young Missy, applying forbidden midnight blue mascara in the junior high bathroom mirror. There is Missy on her own, working the cosmetics counter at an upscale department store, tarted up and fleecing the affluent flock. There is Young-Mother Missy, too tired to tart. And there is Matron Missy, avoiding mirrors altogether but for her minimalist morning routine.
My Grammy had a nose for artifice. She’d catch a wafting whiff of pretension and say, “Mutton trying to be lamb, dear.”
Maybe presentation isn’t everything. Maybe, just maybe, it’s OK to be mutton.
Yet presentation counts for something, and a little mascara makes mutton shine. Can I be forgiven for trying to pull the wool over your eyes?