People, this just in: I’m old.
Yesterday, I was at the hospital and used the restroom. If you want to know what you really look like to the outside world, either take a full-on selfie with no filter, or look at yourself in the cold, unforgiving glare of hospital lighting.
I made the mistake of observing my face a tad too closely in the green aura of the sole fluorescent bulb, vibrating overhead, that only a hospital — or prison — can offer.
What. The. Hell.
Hadn’t I been looking at the same face in my mirror at home? Who is this staring back at me? I will tell you who: The Crypt Keeper. I was dumbfounded; the wrinkles were everywhere — creased and crumpled and icky.
And when did those purple bruises appear beneath my eyes? Honestly, if you didn’t know better, you’d assume I was at the hospital for treatment of two profusely black eyes. I look like I walked into a telephone pole while texting. (Almost, once.) I know this is a genetic deal, but come on. Is there a cure for purple, under-eye spheres? Someone, please send me a coupon.
I’ve come to expect the crevice between my eyes as part of my little cul-de-sac of life. My grandmother had one; my mother did as well, and used to put a piece of tape between her eyes each day in the hopes of erasing that inherited hand grenade. Mine is so deep and set in stone that the only hope for me is Botox. Someone, please send me a coupon.
But what shocked me as I continued to dissect my ratty old face, were those droopy packets of flesh blanketing both sides of my chin. You know, the ones that flapped to and fro during the recent tornado. And you know what offsets them nicely? A set of subterranean etchings referred to as “marionette lines.” Adorable. I guarantee you, it was a man who gave them that jaunty name. There’s nothing doll-like about them. We women call things what they are: fault lines that rival San Andreas. They are deep; they are ugly; and they collect lint. I want them gone. Someone, please send me a coupon.
Look, I’m vain. I know this about myself. But as I stared at my reflection, I must be honest: I was also sad. I felt like a bassett hound or a Shar-Pei. Google them both and you decide.
(As an aside, I just asked my son if he knew the name of the dog with the wrinkly face. He said “Maria.” I’m going to miss him, and I hope he’s comfortable in that tent on the river bank for the remainder of the summer.)
At any rate, it’s been a challenging year for your buddy, Maria. And I suppose it shows. My internal and external pain is written all over my face like a papyrus of the Magna Carta. Sure, we all say we love our laugh lines. We pretend we’re proud of them because it means we, well, laughed. I personally would be up for any laughter that doesn’t result in a permanent imbedding of cobwebs next to my tired eyes. They perfectly frame my mustache.
I want to love myself just as I am. I really do, but I am completely incapable.
Jane Austin wrote: “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” Well, that gives me pause. And it makes me want to frown, but I’m unable, because, like my mother, I’ve slapped a length of duct tape between my eyes. Cheaper than Botox. And — score — it will also remove my unibrow when I yank it off. And I don’t need a coupon! Thanks for nothing, Jane.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at [email protected]