Monday, September 29, 2008

I missed my calling in life
(why I should have been a spy)

Once upon a time, when I was one and twenty, I looked like this.

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.

Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Oh Lara. . . that story made my morning.

  2. LOL - I was high maintenance in highschool and college, too. I remember you always looking impeccable. I'm sure you do now, too. Just with a much shorter timeframe. :)

  3. That's hilarious. I always love seeing celebrities without makeup on, because some of them look like a truck ran them over. Pamela Anderson? I really think she's about 74.

    I teach an anger management class to teenagers, and we have one girl in their who wears quite a bit of makeup. She too woke up late last week, and came without makeup. We're in the middle of the class, and another kid says, "Have you ever noticed how different girls look without makeup?" She was mortified.

  4. That story is HiLARIOUS.
    I'm sure you could use it to get into the mo tab too. :)

  5. I'm pretty sure I had those same glasses in high school! This was a great story.

  6. Ok, you are SO 1990s! I love the 20yo pic...seriously, didn't we all look like that?

    I have to say, I have always loved your ability to wear red lipstick. I've always wanted to be able to pull that one off, but it just would not do on this doo.

    You know though, as a missionary, I did get ready every morning when so many sisters just gave up on themselves. Finally one day someone asked me why I bothered, after all, it was just Bulgaria. I just said, "If I'm going to get the door slammed in my face all day, every day, I am going to look fantastic doing it!" And I did!

    I'm not afraid to wear my glasses out of the house, because I've managed to find some cool frames, but I have to put some paint on my face, even an old barn looks better with new paint!

  7. That is one of the funniest stories I have ever heard. I love it. I wish more of us would be comfortable with out all of the make up. I stopped wearing make up after I married. My husband told me that I didn't need it. hallelujah!!

  8. You totally made my day with this post! I don't think I was in Concert Choir yet when this happened, but I can picture the whole scene! It reminds me of when my dh and I had just started dating, and I had asked him to some girl choice dance. I had arrived early to choir, and was chatting with some friends when I looked up and saw that Dr. Wilberg had walked in. At that same moment, I realized that there was a toilet seat sitting on the stage of the Madsen. It had a sign on it that said "Mary Meyers should be RELIEVED to know that Ben Marble will go to Preference with her." Dr. Wilberg looked over to the stage at the same moment that I did, and then looked at me with a look that said, "How could you ask anyone with such low-brow humor to a dance?" I was mortified! I remember hurling my way over chairs to throw my coat on it. I think I almost told Ben I didn't want to go with him anymore!

    Thanks for the great laugh!

  9. LOL!!! That's one of the best stories I've heard in a while. Mack Wilberg actually came and directed the choir I was in down here a couple years ago. I've never sung under the direction of someone so awesome before.

  10. I love that story. It is so fun to hear about our past and what happened to make us who we are today.

  11. Fun story. And I think you always look cute.

  12. Ah, I remember this day very well--it WAS very out of character for you to go to school like that. I think that was probably one of the funniest things that ever happened in Concert Choir. I am just sorry it happened to you.
    Can you believe we are grown up ladies now?
    P.S. The baseball cap WAS an essential part of the disguise.

  13. I think you looked cute either way!

    I didn't know LDS girls went on missions! I thought it was only the boys. Hu. Learn something new every day!

  14. A few things:

    I TOTALLY remember that! As quiet and reserved as M.W. is, we sure laughed a lot in Concert Choir!

    #2 I can recognize your smile in the Christmas picture you posted, but you really just don't look like you without the red lipstick! I remember you looking perfect with the luscious locks.

    #3 How cool that palomita (or whatever it is, I can't remember right now) is Mary Meyers! And the fact that i wouldn't even know it was her without the toilet story!

  15. Hi, I just randomly linked here from Lei's blog.

    Great story! Made me laugh. WITH you no AT you. lol.

  16. Awesome story--I actually am loving how you look in the un-made-up picture. And I do love your voluminous Vidal Sassoon hair, too, in the first picture. :) I tend to feel like I look horrifically different without makeup or my normal fallbacks, but most people tell me I don't....I don't know if that's a compliment or NOT!! :)

  17. I was a shirt and jeans girl, and known a few girls that took time to look "perfect". I was the girl no one recognized when I dressed up to go to my Junior Prom, so I know exactly how you felt. Great story!

  18. That was awesome! Although I have to say that I can one-up the college most embarrassing moment by a long shot... although I'm not sure I'm self-confident enough to post it on my blog. Yes, it's really that bad.