Nothing screams peri-menopausal married woman like a shopping cart full of root dye, cat food, and a Ladies Home Journal.
I was reminded of how old I had become when I unloaded my cart, and the smiling young cashier made small talk with me. At first I thought he was flirting, and I flipped back my hair and shot him a dimple, but as he scanned the last can of Friskies and said, "my mom buys this for our cat too," I realized I had become my mother. And his.
I'm not sure when I started 'acting old'. It might have been on my last birthday (and for those of you who follow my blog you know how I feel about birthdays! http://aprilaasheim.blogspot.com/2012/02/five-stagesof-aging-grief-as-another.html)
I was actually feeling pretty good about myself shortly before that fateful day. I was working out, eating better, and had a pretty active social life. On the day of I decided to treat myself to a microdermabrasion as the last aesthetician I had seen assured me that I didn't need any kind of fillers for my smile lines, just a good scrubbing (God I miss Andre!). But now, as the lady ran the micro-crystal over my skin I asked her what she thought.
From my vantage point, lying on the table, I could see her Botoxed brow attempt to wrinkle. "I think it's gonna take more than a micro. Let me send you to Lucy after."
Lucy ended up being a 27-year-old, thigh-high-boot wearing gal who swore she could make me look ten years younger.
"With a filler?" I asked, chagrined. I was hoping I could wait on those another few years.
"No. You see, the lines are caused by your chin, which is starting to fall. Haven't you noticed that?"
No! I hadn't noticed it. Lucy said for a mere 2000 dollars I could get three full laser treatment that would zap my chin back in place. "It will feel like the worst sunburn of your life but it's totally worth it. Do it while you're still young. My mom did it and she looks great."
There were so many things wrong with that paragraph, but I slunk home, taking the cost analysis worksheet back to my husband who informed me that Lucy was a salesperson and that was her way of making money. And no, we weren't going to shell out 2k for me to get a new chin.
Still. The seed had been planted. I spent the next two months catching my reflection in the mirror, looking for turkey neck. I read magazines, looking for celebrities who were my age and older, checking to see if their jowls had set in. And I looked to peers around me, seeing who had avoided the face plague and who was still fairing well. It was a war, I realized. And according to Lucy, I was losing.
Since then I think I fell into old woman mode, dressing comfortably, making soups, subscribing to Oprah. Who knew that one comment, out of the blue, would change my perspective so dramatically? I went from feeling like a curvy cutie to a has-been jowl frau, with no ramp up time.
A few months have passed and I've come to grips with things. Lucy said my chin was 'falling' but it hadn't fallen yet. And even if it had, was that horrible? I was still me, no matter what my neck said. I had even started believing that cute guys could find me attractive again, if I lived in an alternate single Universe.
"What are you going to do today?" The cute cashier asked, bagging up my last can of Friskies.
"I'm going roller blading," I said, smiling.
"No way! I love roller blading."
"So do I," I said, and I meant it.
And that afternoon, after feeding my cat, leafing through my Ladies Home Journal, and covering up the gray hairs that had sprouted around my ears, I strapped on the skates and did some circuits around the neighborhood.
There were a million Lucy's out there, telling me that my only salvation lay in their costy and sometimes painful treatments.
But my time hasn't passed, nor will it, as long as I continue to live and embrace my life.
Maybe next time I send my husband for the cat food.