Wednesday, April 25, 2018
A few years ago, I began to notice that a deepening of the lines beside my mouth, some call them marionette lines. It seemed that every time I looked into the mirror my eyes gravitated to these two lines that were absent in my youth.
I had heard one of the older ladies at the gym talk about how she goes to a dermatologist every so often to get injections of Juvederme injections. She laughed and said, “The doc keeps a vial on hand for me, and a few shots of the stuff fixes me right up.”
She had to be at least ten years my senior (you never ask how old a lady is). I looked at her face and decided that she might be right. It wouldn’t hurt to try some of that stuff. After all, I didn’t want to have a puppet face when I got married in a few weeks.
About a week before the wedding I set up an appointment with a dermatologist in Douglasville near the school where I worked. I had lunchtime planning, so I booked the appointment for then. I could have the procedure then go back to school and teach my last class. I would have plenty of time.
I told no one about my decision, mainly because I wanted to see if anyone, including Dave, would notice my improved face. It would be a true test of effectiveness. Besides, who wants to admit to such vanity.
The doctor came in and explained the procedure. I guess I had thought you would just stick the needle in and squirt a little each side of my mouth. That was not the case. He numbed both sides and then proceeded to make several injections up and down the lines shooting the expensive vial of Juvederme into place. I looked at the half-full vial as he switched from the right side to the left and thought, ‘Gosh there is still that much left! Gym lady forgot to tell how much this junk hurts!’
Finally, I was finished and sent on my way back to school. I flipped open my visor mirror to see the doctor’s handiwork and gasped. My marionette lines had disappeared and were replaced with considerable swelling and about twenty blood dots where the needle had been inserted.
I had to go back to school. I had a class starting in fifteen minutes. What was I going to do? I had thought to bring some foundation with me as I thought I might need to reapply. I dabbed it over the blood dots to no avail. Even after the third, cakey coat you could still see the tiny scabs if you looked closely, and there was no help for the swelling from the trauma of it all.
‘So much for no one knowing about my vanity,’ I thought as I opened the hallway door. Classes were changing, and as I patrolled the masses my two department heads, both women old enough to understand, came up to me in the hallway.
One smiled and said, “We missed you at lunch today.”
Feeling the need for a confession I looked at them both and said, “Yeah, I went to the dermatologist, can you tell?”
Neither one wanted to say, “Your face is all swollen and what are those little red dots,” so they said nothing. I continued, “I had injections to get rid of the lines beside my mouth. I had no I idea I would look like this afterward, or I would have scheduled it for after school. It looks bad doesn’t it?”
They both said no I looked fine, and one added, “If I had the money I would get a face-lift in a minute.”
One thing is for sure that women of a certain age come together in great understanding of anything anti-aging. As far as the results, No one even noticed. Dave would have never known had I not told him. My mom, a fellow anti-ager, couldn’t even tell that I had done it. My bank account sure could. I was $575 poorer, and that was a fact.
I will say though that after the swelling went down and the blood dots disappeared, my eyes didn’t focus on my marionette lines anymore. They had something else to focus on. The crows feet beside my eyes became more prominent as did the frown lines between my eyes. ‘I wonder how much Botox costs?’
Thursday, April 19, 2018
I come from a long line of aging avoiders, so it is inevitable that in the middle of my fifties my anti-aging routine has hit an all-time high. Did I mention that anti-aging is a very expensive regimen? Maintenance of a youthfulish appearance is costly. (Yes, I know that I coined a new word, but youthful is never fully attainable.) There is gray hair coverage each month, intensive moisturizers and makeups, a gym memberships, stylish clothing, vitamin and herbal supplements, and replacement hormones to pay for. I figure a third of my income goes to Denise’s youthfulish appearance maintenance.
Before you judge me as completely superficial listen to how I acquired my behavior. I learned from the best. My mother’s polished and perfect appearance always instilled a need to present my best. Some of my earliest memories are of me watching her apply her makeup. She would give me a drop of her Oil of Olay to rub on my face and let me play with one of her tiny Avon lipstick samples. Her lifelong attempts to stop her aging has worked pretty well. People have often thought we were sisters instead of mother and daughter, but I guess my best inspiration came from my great-grandmother, Ella Mae Pate. The following is an excerpt from my memoir, Leave Him?
The spring squealed a familiar sound as I flung open the screen door of Grandma Hines’ house, and doing its job, slammed the wood of the door against the frame with a loud pop. I ran past the kitchen table into the middle bedroom just as I had done at least once a week since I could walk. My eyes adjusted to the darker room to see a familiar sight, Grandma Pate was seated in her gold, velour-covered chair next to the doorway. The corners of her mouth turned up as I entered the room.
She addressed me from her throne of a chair where she spent countless hours, most of them just looking across the room in front of her, “Well hello. How are you doing today?”
I stopped to talk to her as I did every week, “Oh nothing much. Just been reading a lot of books I got at the library. I am almost finished with my twenty-five I need to complete for the summer reading program.”
She smiled at me, “That’s good!” She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out her leather change purse. She twisted the latch and got out two quarters. “I’ve been thinking that I have a job I want you to do. How’d you like to earn 50 cents?”
Opportunities for a ten-year-old daughter of a laid-off Lockheed aircraft worker to make money of her own didn’t come around often, so I immediately said “Yes,” without knowing what I was saying yes to.
Grandma Pate reached over to her side table and picked up a pair of tweezers, handed them to me, and said, “I want you to pull out the hairs on my chin and my lip. I can’t see good enough anymore to do it myself.”
My ten-year-old brow furrowed together as I contemplated the task. I thought about the big box of colors with the sharpener in the back of the box that I could save up and buy with the money. Then I thought about how it would hurt to have hairs pulled out of your face. I reached out and took the tweezers.
She proceeded to instruct me, “Just hold them between your finger and thumb, put the ends around the hair, then squeeze them tight and pull.”
I found a white hair about a half inch long on her chin and surrounded it with the tweezer points, then stopped and looked at her green eyes.
“Won’t it hurt? I don’t want to hurt you.”
She chuckled a bit and tried to explain. “Honey, when you’ve lived as long as me a little thing like pulling out a hair don’t hurt. I don’t even feel it. You are just doing me a favor.”
I steadied my hand again, squeezing the metal tweezers tight on the white hair then pulled it towards me. As the hair came loose, I watched her for a sign of pain, but her expression didn’t change.
“See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now, do the rest and I’ll give you your money.”
I looked at her eighty-seven-year-old face. It was a pale apricot color with wrinkles that combined with her white hair to tell her age. I had never had a reason to be this close and look at her like this before. I noticed that her skin was soft as my fingers brushed up against it. As I pulled hair after hair from her chin and her upper lip, I wondered why. Why would she want these hairs gone enough to pay me to do it? I knew my mother spent countless hours fixing her hair and putting on lipstick, but she did it for my daddy, or so people would say she was pretty like they always did when we went places. But I knew that Grandma Pate didn’t have a husband and hadn’t had one for most of her life, and other than going out to eat on a Friday night and to church she didn’t see anyone. I finished the last one and put the tweezers down.
“Did you get ‘em all?”
I nodded still in thought and looked at her smile at me and say, “Well, I spect I look presentable now,” and as if she read my thoughts, “You don’t just fix up for other people. Sometimes you fix up for yourself. Here’s your pay. You did a good job. I’ll pay you to do this every couple of weeks, okay?”
I had a steady job for the next two years until she passed away. I suppose seeing her fix herself up has a lot to do with why I go to the trouble that I do to keep up my youthfulish appearance. Oh, and by the way, when I found a long white hair sprouting from the right side of my chin the other day, I picked up my tweezers and smiled.
Monday, April 9, 2018
Yesterday I had a problem. I couldn’t find my shorts. I will admit that I have a pretty severe clothing addiction, so you would think that one pair of shorts wouldn’t matter. I do own plenty of shorts, but I only wear one pair, and they were missing. I spent hours looking everywhere possible for my shorts to no avail. After searching behind the dresser with a flashlight and washing every piece of laundry, I thought I would have to give up the fight. They were gone.
My last-ditch effort was to confront my husband, could he have possibly thrown my beloved shorts away? I do wear them almost every day in the summer. Maybe he was tired of seeing the shorts and did them in. My questioning began, “Babe, have you seen my missing shorts? I think I need to put out an APB to find them. You haven’t seen them, have you?”
He said, “You mean the tan and white ones?”
He knew which ones, making him look more guilty. “Did you throw them away? I know you are probably sick of them, but they are the only ones that fit like they were made for me. Just confess if you threw them out, so I can grieve and move on.”
He laughed a bit and said, “No, I didn’t throw them out. I like the way you look in them,” and I told him that I had looked everywhere I could think of.
As I went on about my day, I decided I might have a problem. I worked on the quarterly chore that I dread with a passion- changing my closet over from the winter selection to the spring. The job entails sorting through waaaayyyy too many clothes and dragging them up the stairs to store in a spare closet until next season, then bringing the spring (cooler- but not the coolest clothing) down in exchange- then there are the boots to store and swap for sandals and cute spring shoes.
I’m not sure which thing about the task is the worst, lugging the heavy armloads up and down the stairs, or the shame that I feel when I think about how much money I have wasted on clothing. I haven’t always been a clothing hoarder. For many years, I didn’t have the money to support my clothing habit. I could barely afford to clothe my kids. I guess when I became able to treat myself to buying cute outfits, I got more than a little carried away. As I haul them up and down, I remember each purchase. Oh yeah, I bought that shirt at the mall in Douglasville, or I bought that one at the Anniston TJ Maxx.
I sort them into categories, to organize the closet to the best of my abilities, making a short sleeve casual section arranged by color, then a work top section arranged by color, and bottoms (skirts, capris, and pants) arranged by color, etc. As I grab each hanger and decide which category they belong I realize something. Of all these things that I haul up and down the stairs, there are only really a few that I wear time and time again. They, like my missing shorts, suit me. The rest of the items are only supplementary impostors pretending to be the clothes I care for. If the impostors were to go missing, I’d probably not even notice, much less grieve their loss.
Swimming in my guilt of excess, I decide to change my evil ways. I vow to radically slow down my clothing purchases. I think before I buy anything else I will ask myself if I really need it, try it on to see if it is the perfect fit, and then gently talk to the article of clothing asking it if we are meant to be. It is going to be hard, but I will practice clothing abstinence.
By the end of the day, my husband came up to me with a smile on his face and a prize in his hands. “Look, what I found behind the chair that I sort laundry on.” I hugged him tightly. He had rescued my nearly eight-year-old shorts, and my grief lifted. The temporary loss of my favorite shorts inspired a commitment to clothing abstinence. Now every time I put them on I will be reminded that I have all I need! It's a good thing that I wear them almost every day, because I'm gonna need a lot of reminding!
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