Thursday, September 17, 2009
Birthdays and Botox
“What are you…in your early fifties?”
Seven words. Spoken without malice by a man with a pleasant smile on his face and innocent curiosity in his eyes.
Seven words. Not intended as insulting or hateful. But, wow…they packed a punch!
See… until I’ve lived through this coming Sunday, September 20th, I consider myself to be in my early FORTIES! This weekend I will turn forty-six, and I will have passed that half-way landmark and moved into another, darker part of that decade. I will be in my late forties.
Who made up these rules, anyway?
I tried not to let that gentleman’s comment get me down. I decided, instead, to blame my brother. See, Tom is a year and a half younger than I am, but his hair has been completely white for several years. And the gentleman in question-- whose mother had never taught him that it’s not polite to ask a maturing, adult woman HER AGE-- knew Tom. Knew my brother was white-haired. Which means old, right? And he knew I was older than that man with the head of snow white hair. So, instead of obsessing on my own graying hair, my wrinkles, and my seemingly excessive aura of maturity, I elected to be upbeat, instead.
I went to the store and bought little brother some hair dye. It’s the least he can do, after setting me up for such disgrace.
Ah, but then reality hit. The very next day I was in the local feed supply store, buying sweet feed and corn for the cattle. And no one in that store knows my brother.
I pulled out the ‘$5.00 off’ coupon I’d received in the mail; a birthday gift from the store owners to me. The cashier scanned the coupon, looked up at me with a grin, and wished me a hearty ‘Happy Birthday!’
I dimpled. It’s always nice to have someone wish you happiness. I thanked him, prepared to send a note to his boss commending him for having such a fine and pleasant employee.
The gentleman said, ‘You’re welcome’, and then stepped back and took an appraising look. From my head to my toes traveled his twinkling eyes.
‘Ooh,’ I thought. ‘I’ve still got it! I’m getting checked out!’
‘So…’ he asked. ‘What are you? Early fifties?’
My mouth fell open. Luckily, nothing tumbled from that chasm, for it would have been guaranteed to have warranted an apology. And I was no longer in the mood to be gracious.
‘No!’ I sputtered.
And then I saw the worry and embarrassment which flitted across his face, and my natural empathy took over. Darn it. I hate it when that happens.
I laughed. I touched his arm. I acted as if he’d just imparted the most amusing joke I’d ever heard. And I forgave him.
The poor man fell all over himself trying to explain why he’d guessed my age to be in the ‘fifties’. His best excuse? He was fifty-two, himself, and he just assumed we were of an age.
I found my own eyes assessing him. And…I was not comforted by what I saw.
Sighing inwardly, I paid for my grain and bade him a pleasant day. As the door closed behind my once-firm, but now-evidently-sagging buttocks, I heard him call out.
So, now I know. I look to be almost ten years older than my actual age. Do I surrender gracefully? Or do I go to the salon for some brown coloring for my hair? Call the local plastic surgeon for a face lift, a tummy tuck, a butt boost? Should I start thinking about getting my face waxed, for surely there are bound to be stray hairs sprouting across my chin and upper lip! Botox injections? Support hose? What should I do?
It’s a bit mind-boggling, and not a little disheartening. I guess I’ll think on it for awhile before making a decision.
Besides, I’m busy.
I’ve got a letter to write to the owner of that feed store.