“Why would girls wear filmy sundresses and cowboy boots on the train?”

Whenever Mike rides Marta to (and from) work, he asks me questions about the fashion trends he sees.

“I rode the train back home last night and saw somethin’ strange.”

“Was it the lady who holds the standing rail between her buttcheeks instead of her hands?”

“No! Nothin’ that exciting.” Mike laughed. “I was just wonderin’ — why would girls wear filmy sundresses and cowboy boots on the train?”

“What age group were the girls?”

“High schoolers. Their moms were wearin’ the same type of outfits! What event has that dress code?”

“Were they white girls?”

“Yeah, most of ’em were blondes.”

“There was a Taylor Swift concert at the Philips Arena last night, so that’s probably where they went.”

“That’d make sense! They got off at the Civic Center stop.” Mike frowned, “My spouse would be appalled to see their impractical use of boots.”

“True, your wife wears boots because actually works on farms with horses.” I added, “She’d also think Taylor Swift was pop, not country.”

“I heard that song about some guy bein’ trouble walkin’ in.”

“What’d you think?”

“She’s definitely not country. Plus that song’s got that womp-womp-womp dubstep echo shit y’all like.”

“Valid points.”

“Whatever happened to Dolly? Or Reba? Even she was more country than that!”

“Dolly still performs, though the excessive Botox seems to limit her range. Reba is an actress now.”

“I’ve lost all hope for the future of country music if it’s come to this.”

“Maybe Taylor Swift will go back to her roots after this album.”

“The girl’s from suburban Pennsylvania — her roots are less country than yours!”

“I lived in Birmingham for eight years.”

“Exactly my point.”

“You haven’t heard my awesome rendition of ‘Friends in Low Places.'”

“Karaoke night for the next company outing! Gotta let everyone in on your secret penchant for Garth Brooks.”

“I just like that one song.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“Okay, there’s also the one with my name in it that’s decent –”

“You have his whole anthology, don’tcha?”

“…”

“I knew it!”

“You can’t tell anyone!”

“Nah, you’re losin’ your street cred today, ma’am!”

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Three deadly sins

I. Wrath

When Brie was diagnosed with autism, I became her defender. I was an aggressive crusader against people who said “retarded” or “retard” in a derogatory way (or ever, really).

Tenth grade was the height of my belligerence. On a bus ride after a marching band competition, an obnoxious drummer was impersonating a boy with Downs Syndrome from a rival band.

“I’m a reeetaaaard.” He kept repeating as he intentionally tripped down the bus aisle.

I tapped him on the shoulder and slapped him across the face as he turned around.

“What gives you the right to make fun of that boy?! You’re pathetic — making fun of a kid who can’t defend himself.”

“Damn — I was just joking, Sam.”

“Did it ever occur to you that he’s someone’s brother? Or maybe, that I’ve got a sister who’s in special ed? Or that other people do, too?”

“No it didn’t. Shit. I’m sorry.”

II. Envy

When you’re a former chubby girl, it’s hard to overcome body image issues even after you’ve lost weight. Most days, I believed what I saw in the mirror and in photos. Every once in awhile, old insecurities crept into the back of my mind.

Andrea is lovely. She has long eyelashes and brown hair. Her favorite food groups are cheese and bacon, but she’s naturally slim. She’s also one of the smartest and quirkiest people I know. We’ve been The Ridiculous for over a decade, so it’s uncertain whether we react to things similarly because we’ve been best friends so long, or if that’s why we became friends in the first place.

In college, there were times when guys (acquaintances, not friends or romantic prospects) would say,

“Your friend’s hot. Hook me up?”

I would laugh. “You wouldn’t stand a chance.”

Yet self-loathing mantras of days past persisted.

Your best friend is hot. You’re the funny, sassy one. Why would someone ever think you’re pretty?

III. Pride

When I was in middle school, there was no one more insufferable to have as a classmate than me. I went to a small Catholic school in Birmingham with less than fifty kids per grade (from preschool to eighth grade). I was the Filipino Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and due to the size of the school, most people knew it.

In eighth grade, my group of friends was constantly getting dragged into the guidance counselor’s office because of another group of girls. Our group was comprised of overachievers. We won the spelling and geography bees. We had the highest test scores. We genuinely liked and got along with our teachers.

The other group was comprised of the girls who were wearing full makeup in sixth grade. By eighth grade, they either were or knew people who were partying with their older siblings who went to the Catholic high school. The situation was a Taylor Swift song personified.

The other group’s queen bee and I would get into emailing wars. We accused each other of talking shit. Finally, our homeroom teachers staged an intervention, Mean Girls style. We gathered in a circle and each girl aired her grievances. Tears were shed. Everyone got along (for the moment).

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself because the queen bee claimed that our group was put on a podium, not a pedestal.