Don’t Look At Me

Mary Swan-Bell
3 min readJan 25, 2022

I am an introvert. I prefer to blend in and avoid eye contact and small talk. That said: I am occasionally needy of my husband’s attention. Sometimes he has a reaction that I find very pleasing. So pleasing, in fact, that I chase it. Unlike many other things, it’s as gratifying as the first time every time. Sometimes when I put on a particular outfit, I smugly think, “Yep, this will definitely get the reaction.”

If you’re a Ted Lasso fan, consider the episode, “Sexy Christmas,” perhaps my favorite television episode ever. In the episode, Roy comes in to find Keeley in a very sexy Christmas get-up and says, “Holy Fu**ing Sh*t You Look Incredible.” That’s kind of the reaction I want/expect from my husband even when I’m wearing jammies and a messy bun. He knows this. I’ve told him. Sometimes he even gets it right.

Since, I firmly believe in treating people the way I want to be treated, I always compliment Brad and the kids. Also, I’m a pathological self-improver so I read and listen to lots of podcasts to tell me how to be better. On a recent podcast re: body image, an expert suggested that as parents of teens, who are often obsessed/self-conscious/insecure about their images, we should refrain from commenting on their appearance. Well, sh*t. The next day when my 15-year-old daughter came down for school, I struggled to make a comment that didn’t involve her outfit or appearance. My lame, “What do you have going on at school today?” was rewarded with a Roy Kent’ish grunt — sticking with the Lasso theme.

I didn’t think much of it since grunts, sighs, shrugs, and eye rolls are essential teen jargon.

A few days later in one of our many family conversations about someone failing to meet our expectations, my daughter said, “Yeah, the other day, I came down in that really cute outfit and you didn’t even say anything. You would have killed Dad.” Go figure. I acknowledged that and explained my motivation. No reaction. Not even a grunt, sigh, shrug or eye roll. “To clarify,” I asked, “you always want me to compliment your outfit?” Yes. Good to know.

Have I mentioned my habit of trying to fix things that aren’t broken and by things I mean me?

For many years, I encouraged/forced activities on my family for the purpose of “making fun memories,” which I felt a distinct lack of in my…

Mary Swan-Bell

dreamer•mystic•seeker• author, Post-Its and Polaroids•