|BWS Stories - "You're So Vain"...Celebrating Physical Changes|
"You're So Vain"...Celebrating Physical Changes - Keep Your Chin Up!
Jeanne Getz Pallos is the author of several published stories and enjoys leading a writers’ critique group in Orange County, CA. A former school teacher, she lives in Laguna Niguel with her husband and two dogs. Jeanne can be reached at email@example.com.
Keep Your Chin Up!
Turning fifty was bad enough, but the day my friend said over brunch, “Honey, have you ever considered a face lift?” I knew I couldn’t ignore this aging thing any longer.
So I trotted to my therapist to sort out the newest chapter in my life—skin slipping off my lower face like Jell-O sliding off a plate. Walking into Pat’s office, I noticed puffiness, redness and bruises on her face. “Have you been in an accident?” I asked.
"Oh no!” she said. “I’ve just had a face lift.”
Great, I thought. Here’s my role model for aging and even she gets a face-lift. I felt betrayed.
The obsession with the sagging lower jowl ballooned. Some women obsess over thighs, hips and behinds, but not me. It was the face, and not just the face. It was skin around and south of the mouth. Did it sag when someone looked down? How much? Did they have those little pleats in their skin like I did? I refused to call them wrinkles. And why didn’t my friends have them?
I’d stand in front of the mirror, pull the skin taut behind my ears and look 20 years younger. Maybe I could tape it? I’d think. Then I’d rub on expensive moisturizing creams with promises of tighter, more youthful skin. The pleats still greeted me each morning.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” my daughter said, “it’s the genes. But I’m sure glad I take after Dad’s family.”
Tuesday’s became a challenge. A small, local produce store advertised: Every Tuesday All Seniors, 55 and older, get a 10% discount. I hadn’t noticed the huge white banner with gigantic red letters until the day the cashier gave me a 10% discount—without asking.
How dare they? I called my 82 year old aunt in Indiana and lamented, “The cashier at the store just gave me a senior discount, and I’m not even 55!”
I was 54 and no one was giving me a senior discount one day early. I knew it was the sagging face.
For a few weeks, I avoided shopping at that store on Tuesdays. Then I contrived a plan. Each week I’d carefully select the checkout cashier: Was it male or female? Young or old? Would that person think I was 55?
I made sure my make-up and hair looked good. I avoided turtlenecks because they emphasized the sag. Then I’d approach the cashier, hold my head as high as possible to keep the skin from sagging, smile and mentally dare them to give me that dreaded discount.
For a few weeks this worked, and I’d march out of the store feeling victorious and young. No 10% discount on my receipt!
One Tuesday I picked a tall, lanky kid who looked young enough to be my son. Shouldn’t be a problem, I thought. As he scanned the fresh produce, I noticed his eyes scanning my face. This is the real test, I thought. I held my head higher.
Without a word, he punched that dreaded code: 10% discount!
Dangity, Dang, Dang, I muttered as I studied my receipt. What went wrong?
This time I didn’t race in the house, call my aunt, fall on my bed in tears or smash my mirror. Putting my groceries away, part of a familiar Bible verse came to mind: Though outwardly we are wasting away…
Great, I thought, it’s obvious to everyone that I’m wasting away.
Help me, God, I sighed, to age graciously. Even in Southern California where everyone seems to have a face-lift.
Don’t believe for a moment that I’m not tempted to get a face-lift, and maybe I will. Until then, I practice what my mother taught me: Hold your head up high and keep your chin up.