Sunday, November 7, 2010



I first spotted it as I began to apply make-up before an outing with my Mah Jong group to see a local theatrical revue of the music of Cole Porter. 

AACCCHHH!  What I thought I saw was not De-Lovely.  Was what I saw true?   Or was it a trick of light?  Wrinkly revelations scare me on a regular basis in that larger-than-life-sized mirror. I shuffled to ascertain my reflection from a different angle.  Perhaps only a rearrangement of position was in order.

Ohmifreakinlordy, as my friend Judith says.  Holy fuckanoli as my friend Nancy says.  Shit!  (That’s me.)

That black hair sticking straight out like errant stubble dead center of my chin was real all right.  Thank you, hormone loss.

I fumbled for the tweezers and yanked out the culprit.  I felt no mercy for yet another signpost of my aging self.  Why had no one told me it was there?  I hoped it was because no one else had seen it.  At the same time, I knew that people can be polite when you least want them to be.

Another terrifying thought struck me.  What if there were more lurking?  I checked under my chin but the combination of light and shadow and the trying machinations it takes to see anything you really need to if you wear tri-focals foiled me.  Have you ever tried to look under your own chin?  Or in my case, chin, chin, and dewlap?  I decided to let what I didn’t know not hurt me and set off to enjoy my evening.

I relished the pleasure afforded me by music and the companionship of my friends.

Looking around the table at the musical revue, I reflected upon our assembled group.  I saw one friend who recently had a heart attack scare, one who has raised a son with a mental disability, one who cares for her ailing husband, one who has lost a breast, and two who have lost their husbands. 

 No one emerges air-brushed and perfect, loss-free, from the miracle of having lived.  All of my friends have their own facial hair to deal with.  Yet these women are beautiful.  Me, too.

Why?  When we have problems, we have suggestions, sharing what we’ve learned from life with each other.  Our lifetime acquired knowledge is prodigious, the group of us their own private Google.  We laugh and make each other laugh.  We create beauty with our paintings, sculptures, gardens, and jewelry.  One runs a county-wide program feeding hungry children.  We use our talents to love—our families, our friends, our communities. Yes, life has dealt us loss and our answer back, to a woman, is love.  Women who learn, laugh and love are beautiful, errant hairs notwithstanding.  

Once home, in the bathroom, passing the mirror, I thought, "Why not take another look?"  Late evening now, the ambient light was darker.  Shadows are often more revealing than light.  I notice on CSI the agents always leave the lights off when searching for clues.

AAARGH!  Right away I spotted three long and curly hairs, like three butterfly probiscae, happily nestled in their shaded refuge under my chin.  I could have braided them but instead I grabbed those tweezers again and plucked, plucked, plucked.  Sigh.

Remember that old Chinese curse, “May your life be interesting!”?  What a body does as it ages is interesting, all right.  Furrows and ridges appear.  Parts pucker and sag.  Joints ache.  Hair arrives where it’s never been before.  When you look in the mirror, you see your grandmother and your mother.  As much as you love them, you aren’t ready to be them.  Time travels too fast, especially at this end of life.

But you know what?  Despite what advertisements define as beauty for us, despite the fact the older we become, the more invisible we become to younger generations, despite the various declines we endure, despite our losses, we can take what life dispenses.

So what am I going to do about my hairy chin?  I think I’ll write a musical about the wonders on this side of life and call it Hair—the Next Generation.


Nancy Slavin said...

Hey, thanks for including me in the blog, but I'm sure I stole holy fuckanoli from someone else...Still, this post made me laugh out loud (no I will not use the acronym)...You should see the array of little fine hairs and the old whiskers growing now after birth...unfathomable..and then to have your little daughter point them out. Oy! Sending peace....

Wanda said...

I know you are beautiful. Thanks for letting me see the beauty of your friends, too. And the musical? Love the idea. Can't wait to see it.

Anonymous said...

This made me smile out loud. What a great description of the angst of the magnifying mirror, but oh my, what would we do without it. Have a beard?
And your lovely description of your night out with your women friends. How blessed you are to be sharing the losses and beauty of life with them.