One way to spend three or four lonely hours is to watch the new season of Queer Eye. The Queer Eyes really went to Austin to do a makeover on a honky-tonk woman and were so annoying a whole global pandemic unfurled before they could even re-tile a bathtub.
But a good way to spend three or four lonely hours is to do a thought experiment on yourself about what the Queer Eyes would do to obliterate your life if you were nominated to be a “hero” on the show. It’s nice to be thought about, even if it's not real and even if you’re the one doing the thinking. I’m curious to see how readers would fill out this template and bruise their own egos in an imaginary episode of Queer Eye, too. But for now, here is how mine would go.
My Gawker coworkers nominate me because I’m always putting others first and I never take any time for myself. This is probably not true, but I don’t have any outstanding warrants for my arrest, and I have a lot of hair we can work with for a visually interesting on-screen transformation. I’m framed as a sort of diligent egghead who lives out loud online, but has a hard time speaking up for myself in person.
The premise is that working from home has been hard, and at the end of the week, we’re meeting up at Starbucks. Chit-chatting with friends over some burnt pistachio-flavored java brings me some necessary sanity. It will be the perfect setting for my coworkers to get a load of my transformation.
But first: The Queer Eyes surprise me at home and raid my apartment and closet. I answer the door wearing big pants and a small shirt, and on the TV, my own episode of Queer Eye is somehow playing.
Karamo divines that the reason I’m not taking my career to the next step is because I fear how things might change when I become a success. I like my safe spaces, don’t I? But there’s a whole big world outside of my apartment. Karamo brings me to an improv class and Jonathan tags along to bring out my goofy side. The boys in the improv class don’t quite know what to do with Jonathan, because, despite their beanies, they grew up Evangelical in the Midwest. One of them knows a few guys I went to high school with from undergrad at IU. Eventually, one cries when Jonathan asks him to “access his inner tigress.”
Via the craft of spontaneous comedy, we discover all of my self-imposed limitations have to do with not having felt beautiful in middle school.
JVN assures me that I’m a glamorous rock star diva baby gorgeous, but my long hair is aging me at age 30 — god, I’m so stupid. Cut to: 12 inches cut off, tight barrel curls. I cry, and they ask me why. I tell them I was using my hair as a distraction so that people wouldn’t look closer at me — the real me. Jonathan tells me hair and makeup is fun as a way to play dress-up, not as a way to hide ourselves. At this point, JVN also starts selling tea towels that say “hair and makeup is fun as a way to play dress-up, not as a way to hide ourselves.”
Later, at home, I show JVN my skincare routine. They tell me I could probably stand to spend $500 less a month on lotions, and it wouldn’t kill me to wear a little makeup over all that serum, baby funny bunny gorgeous gorgeous girl. They show me how to do a winged eyelid, which I usually just have my sister do for me — because I lack confidence.
Bobby, Interior Design
Bobby takes one look at my rented ground-floor apartment in an old three-story building and immediately zeroes in on the main problem at hand: “Too many chairs.” Why so many chairs, Claire? Well, Bobby, I have the best intentions of sitting in a chair all day. I like to be prepared. And do you sit in a chair all day, Claire? No, Bobby, I lie down.
It doesn’t have to be like this. It isn’t too late, even though I’m 30.
Bobby decides I need a workstation if I want to be a real “working girl” like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, his favorite movie. And aren’t all those eighties interiors so fun? We both start singing that one Carly Simon song from the movie, but we bail, because at the end of the day both of us fundamentally lack follow-through in really committing.
I wanted the kitchen redone, actually, but I’m still grateful. He paints the desk I bought in September a chic gunmetal grey and hangs the letter “C” above it, alongside personal art with varying geometric designs mounted on a semicircle appliqué of aqua on the wall. The C is for Claire, he says, to remind me that this is a space that’s all mine. It’s unclear what specifically I have to do to level up my career, but now I have a more muted flat surface to think about it upon and a fiddlehead fern as a desk mate. I tell him a cantilevered lamp is a bright idea, I guess. I’m starting to resent these people in my space.
Tan, as always, is surprised to find I have “a body under there.” He says a bunch of stuff about proportions and bare midriffs and “large trousers,” implying from his Mormon point-of-view that I’m a bit of a dumpy slut.
He throws out my ratty old T-shirts, including one I’m particularly attached to that I once wore in the river Ganges. Don’t worry, he secretly has Bobby frame it and hang it above my desk, next to the “C.” It looks terrible — my whole apartment does — but sentiment is more important than aesthetics on this sort of programming.
He puts me in a few looks for pear-shaped women, such as a blazer with an “elevated” T-shirt and a silk Cheetah print midi skirt. We do one “date night” look, too: an imitation-silk wrap dress and a pair of Vejas sneakers. I will end up wearing the “date night” look to the Starbucks party.
Antoni, Food and Drink
He notices I eat a lot of yogurt. But he sees I’m slathering it in granola and honey, and sugar is not good for a pear-shaped woman, even one wearing a blazer. He suggests I try savory yogurt instead. I know about savory yogurt, obviously, but I’m nervous around him because he’s so hot, so I pretend he’s wowwing me. He shows me how to swirl some jarred pesto into yogurt and eat it with water crackers. For some reason we can’t film this in my kitchen, and we have to take over the back of the house at a local Just Salad on my block.
The Big Reveal
I walk out of a Starbucks bathroom off the interstate in Pennsylvania (cheaper to film there than in a major city) and my coworkers ooh and aah. Everybody’s cheering. Claire put herself first, finally, for the purposes of this one episode. My editor gives me a blog-to-book deal, somehow.
I open up a Tupperware container of the savory yogurt I made for the big party, but it’s sort of warm from the commute, and my coworkers opt for some birthday cake-flavored Cake Pops instead.
I cry, not because I’m happy, but because this whole thought experiment has sort of hurt my own feelings.