Those of you who never knew me that long ago, and only met me at some point after I returned from my mission, might be surprised. And not because of the lipstick, either, because that is one thing that has certainly never changed, although the shade is a bit different these days. What you're probably a little shocked by is my hair. You're wondering how, low maintenance Lara, who always has her hair in a ponytail or a bun, could ever have bothered with the hours needed to make her tresses look quite like that.
I'm wondering, myself. I actually blew my hair dry and curled it every day? Wow. I was vain.
Which brings me to the story at hand.
So, yes, I was vain. I was your typical college co-ed who insisted on looking perfect every day. My hair was always done. I never left the house without lipstick (still a cardinal rule), foundation and mascara. I always wore my contacts. I really wasn't one for jeans and t-shirts, either. I liked to dress up. I still do, in fact, but being the mother of three just isn't too conducive to wearing cashmere. That's why I like teaching at the university, because it gives me an excuse to wear cute dresses and stuff.
Anyway, I digress. So. This particular semester I was back to living at home with my parents in Orem. One morning, I was scheduled for an early morning training meeting at work (I worked at the BYU Bookstore/Museum of Art branch). I was supposed to be there at 7:00 am. Of course, as is usually the case in these types of stories, my alarm didn't go off. I woke up at 6:40 am only because of pure divine intervention. However, I lived at least 15 minutes from campus, and I risked losing my job if I didn't show up to this meeting.
There was only one choice to be made, and I made it. I put on a pair of jeans with the shirt I had slept in, popped on my (very ugly by today's standards) glasses, brushed my teeth, put on the old Birkenstocks, threw my hair into a pony tail and stuck a baseball cap on my head. No time for make-up or fancy hairdos. No time for a well put together outfit. No time for contact lenses. Only time to jump in the car and speed all the way down to the BYU.
The good news? I made it to my meeting and kept my job. The bad news? Nobody in the world recognized me that day. Not my classmates. Not my best friends. Not my fellow employees. Not my professors.
And especially not Dr. Wilberg.
I went to Concert Choir at 2:00 pm, as I did every day. By then, a lot of my friends were already aware that I was going incognito that day, if only accidentally. Choir didn't start out to be anything out of the ordinary. I remember vividly that Dr. Wilberg had put us all in a circle to rehearse a double choir piece, and I was amongst the sopranos who were standing on the stage in the Madsen recital hall, minding my own business and singing my own part.
And then Dr. Wilberg stopped rehearsal. Just stopped. Right in the middle of the phrase. If you've ever sung under him, you know that he doesn't ever stop unless he needs to tell the sopranos that they sounded like cats screeching at 2 am, or that the tenors were tiptoeing through the tulips instead of singing like real men.
But this time, he was looking right at me. And he said, "I just now figured out who you are! I thought some girl off the street just decided to join our choir for today!"
I raised my music and hid behind it as the class giggled and whispered to each other.
Dr. Wilberg continued, "Well? Doesn't she look different?"
And right at that moment, (and I have this on excellent authority), several other choir members were leaning over to their neighbors asking who was that girl, anyway? I was still hiding behind my score and turning all different shades of red, and wishing that the day that had somehow turned into an awful nightmare would just please end already.
I am not even making that story up, either. I know there's a few of you that read this blog that were there to witness the rehearsal stoppage for the very un-musical reason of having a spy in the room. Although, I'm sure nobody else remembers all of this in as much detail as I do, since the whole ordeal was rather embarrassing for me. I was, after all, a vain college co-ed.
Now, against my better judgment, I am going to show you a picture of what I possibly maybe might have looked like that day. It's Christmas morning of that same year. My hair is up, I'm sans make-up, sporting glasses and am even wearing the same shirt I slept in and wore to school on that fateful day. The only thing missing is my baseball cap. Perhaps it was the baseball cap that did the trick and made me look so very different. I'll never know.
What I do know, is that I learned something very important that day: If I am ever running from a bad guy, I will not have to sneak into the back room of a department store and give myself a bad haircut and an even worse dye job. All I will have to do is wash my face, put on my glasses and find a baseball cap, and I will be totally safe.