Close friends, shrinks, and eagle-eyed brant-readers will be familiar with Laura’s “Bird on her head” issue — a phrase that came from one of Laura’s oldest and bestest [sic] friends, book editor extraordinaire Julie Grau. Julie came up with this phrase to describe the look a certain boss of Laura’s gave Laura every time she opened her mouth to say something. The boss would tilt her head and then stare at her, mystified, as if, Julie so rightly described, Laura had a bird on her head.
One of the reasons that phrase and that issue “resonated” so deeply with Laura is because she realized she’d spent most of her life dealing with people who looked at her in that exact same way — as if, as Laura had always described it herself non-metaphorically, she was “weird.” Sometimes people would actually give her the bird-on-the-head look AND say she was weird, but most of the time it was just the look. And believe Laura when she says that the look alone was, is, and always will be enough to make her feel like a giant loser.
Laura’s trying to think of easy-to-describe examples of incidents where she got the total bird-on-the-head look — besides every encounter with her aforementioned former boss who thought Laura was just 100% weird and bizarre and strange and God knows what else.
- There was Laura’s year-long 6th grade obsession with buying boys’ Levis and boys’ Jack Purcell sneakers – as was the rage in the early-mid 70s — girls wearing boys clothes or the lines between boys and girls clothes blurring — just ask The Gap which opened it’s first gender-blurring clothing store in San Francisco in 1969 — that made her mother give her non-stop bird-on-the-head looks.
- There was Laura’s insistence on wearing a three-piece brown corduroy suit (skirt, vest, jacket) for her bat mitzvah instead of, say, a fucking dress.
- There was the time Laura dropped out of her graduate MFA writing program after only two days (total bird-on-the-head not only from the head of the program but from everyone she knew: friends, family) because it just didn’t “feel” right.
- The time Laura told some highly-ambitious ivy-league bound high-school acquaintances that she wasn’t going to get Stanley Kaplan SAT tutoring because “she didn’t believe in it.”
- The time she had a “college rejection” party to offset her embarrassment at having gotten rejected from every one of her non-safety schools because of her stupid fucking non-belief in SAT tutoring.
- The time she told her Stanford-bound ex-boyfriend that she wasn’t going to get Stanley Kaplan GRE tutoring because she “didn’t believe in it” even though the last time she refused test prep classes her scores sucked so bad she didn’t get into any of the colleges she wanted to get into.
- The time she retook her GREs and English Subject Test — still without taking any standardized test-taking-preparatory classes and — big surprise!! — and told a few close friends that she got the same appalling and embarrassingly low scores that she did the first time she took them.
- The time she told her closest girlfriends that she wasn’t going to wear anything special to meet her new boyfriend’s ex-wife because “she didn’t believe in that kind of thing.”
- The time she told her close friend that she was going to her 25th high school reunion when her close friend knew that she was completely 100% miserable in high school, mainly because kids gave her the bird-on-the-head look every minute of every day because she wore long skirts and boots instead of preppy kelly green sweaters and chinos.
- The time she told that same close friend that she was so deeply depressed after attending that 25th reunion she needed new medication and couldn’t understand why.
- The time she told her matchmaker Patti Novak that she’d written half a book about failure and that it had failed to sell to a publisher — during their first dinner together when Laura was “auditioning” to be her ghostwriter.
- The time she told one of the geniuses at the Apple Store genius bar that she wished one of them just once would fucking say “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” for her having to bring in her dead MacBook four times to be shipped down to Tennessee for repairs.
Laura’s main mission in life as a mother is to never give Ben a bird-on-the-head look and to try to keep him away from any and all horrible stupid annoying small-minded unimaginative non-creative un-weird people who could possibly give him a bird-0n-the-head look (not that all the people who gave Laura bird-on-the-head looks throughout her life were horrible stupid annoying small-minded unimaginitive non-creative un-weird people — but you know what she means…). So it’s deeply ironic to her that she actually has pictures of herself and of Ben with birds on their heads…
And not only that: the photo above is doubly perfect because it shows Ben giving Laura a bird-on-the-head look because she literally has a bird on her head!