I had a lunch date today with a dear old friend, my cherished buddy Kat. We got to know each other because our daughters both went to the same pre-school when they were three, so that’s twenty-nine years. We always swear to get together more often, but it’s often a couple of years between lunches. It doesn’t matter: we order a glass of wine and get down.
When I was getting ready for lunch, blow drying my hair whilst looking in the high magnification mirror, my unadorned blown up face appalled me. It seemed as if my wrinkles ran like ravines. Because I feel as optimistic and and scared when I wake up every morning as I did when I was twenty-five it’s always horrible to see that I don’t look that way.
My mother was, barring plastic surgery, a woman who took care of herself. The bucks she spent at the Erno Lazlo and Clarins counters at Holt Renfrew could have annually, fed a family of four. Actually, she wanted plastic surgery. In her early seventies she was frustrated with the hereditary Leyland tummy and plumped for liposuction. She did her research into the best plastic surgeons in Ottawa and made an appointment. The man said something like: “At your age, Mrs. McArthur, this procedure might pose a health risk. I won’t do it.”
She was furious. When she got home she said: “Ian, give me the Yellow Pages. I’m going to find a Quack.” She chose the cheesiest plastic surgeon she could conjure and made an appointment. He said: ”At your age, Mrs. McArthur, this procedure might pose a health risk. I won’t do it.” Her mother and her sister were even more focussed on vanity — thinness, grooming, fashion — they were judgmental. And razor thin.
I’m my mother’s daughter. When I was working I dropped hundred dollar bills like gum wrappers for a genius colorist and cutter, regular facials and manicures. I waxed places I never knew needed to be waxed. I never left the house unless I was in full, flawless makeup.
Today I stroked on some drugstore mascara, some Benetint blush and some lipstick. Done.
After we’d hugged and ordered our wine Kat showed me the dressing on her ankle and said that because of some surgery that took her off her feet for a week she’d decided to sort through that box of old photos we all own. She pulled this one out and said: “Remember that Halloween party at the Jensik’s and how you guys came over to our place beforehand?” I hadn’t until she slipped me this photo (Click on it for a bigger view.)
That djellaba Lou’d bought in Morocco was barely five years old . It still hangs in the spare room closet emanating scents of the souk and the camels, But what the Sam Hill was I dressed up as with that fur hat and fringed vest? A sherpa, maybe?
But what took a little bit of my heart was how young I looked. No wrinkles. I could still wear contacts back then. I was sincerely surprised at how pretty (for me) I look in this picture.It was some kinda frisson.
And this to the background, as Lou showed up as the lunch wore down, to have Kat call him “Handsome!” twice and the waitress three times. Oh well, he’s ten years older than I, better looking at birth, and wrinkles on a guy don’t count. Icing on cake: I got a message from an old friend saying “Tell Lou he looks great!” Fame through apron modelling.
Well, I color my hair myself now and it costs ten bucks. Drugstore brand creams have been proved at least as proficient as the ones costing twenty times more at the Neiman-Marcus cosmetic counter. My figure hasn’t changed much (while clothed) from that in Kat’s snap. I need to rob a bank for dental work, but I’ll figure that out next week.
But after getting a bit misty seeing the photo of that long-ago me, quashing the vanity and constant upkeep in my blood from my female Leyland ancestors, I’m fine with myself. I was a beauty in my twenties and that isn’t happening again. Bring on the Aveeno, the Garnier, the Olay, the ROC — whatever’s on sale at Walgreens.
It seems like a betrayal of Mummy, Nana and Auntie Frankie, but don’t cry for me Erno Lazlo, spas in Bali and Brazilian plastic surgeons. I’ll be fine.