Saturday, June 16, 2007

What I Want, I Gotta Buy

"I am a mummy," I thought. "Someone is going to cover my bandages in baking soda and preserve me for eternity."

I was lying under a collection of masks and towels. They call this "getting a facial." I'd just been poked a lot, as a woman "performed extractions." That means squishing out blackheads.

One of my interns had freaked me out earlier in the week.

"You're going to the Middle East? Will your family go with you?"

I looked at him blankly. Why would my mother and sister be going to the Middle East with me? Then it dawned on me. To this wee college student, I was crusty and ancient. I was a long-term careerist, surely, with a husband and a couple of ten-year-old kids.

Damn. It's that aging thing. That unavoidable, horrific thing where one day you're fighting them off with a stick--or at least a gentle "I'm busy"--and the next you're invisible and will never have another date unless you start hitting on men a few decades older than you.

The fantasies of youth are behind me. I was never really going to take up the guitar, or go back to radio, or lose the jelly belly. The future is now. Time to put up or shut up. Oops, I forgot to get married and have children.

"It doesn't matter to me. It's never mattered to me," I muttered as I scrutinized my Africa-damaged skin later. "I am strong. I am living my way. To hell with tradition."

But here's the thing. I'm not immune to societal expectations. Everything is a compromise. Do I care? Hell... no? Do I really not care? Shit. Okay, a little. I booked an appointment for a facial and consultation. I'm over the guitar thing, accepting that I chose lame men, but maybe it's not too late to halt the sun-damage.

"You have pre-menopausal skin. Do you wear makeup?" I was still in the spa.

"No." Pre-menopausal???

"You should. Get some with sunscreen. Did you ever smoke? No? Did you work somewhere that people smoked?"

Argh, is it that bad?

"Should I do something about this?" I asked the salon woman. "What is microdermabrasion? What are chemical peels?"

"Microdermabrasion slowly takes off the top layer of skin. You have to get it six times or more, so it becomes really expensive. Chemical peels are faster. They put the chemical on one day, and then next day it cracks like sunburn. You go back and they peel off sections with tweezers. The skin can be sensitive for up to three months afterwards."

This is a good thing?

Maybe I'll stick with the mummy and extraction option. Or start dating old guys.


Ed Ward said...

There's a lot to be said for "old guys," he said smugly.

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

I know how you feel. It's like when small children in supermarkets refer to you as 'that lady'. I think 'which lady? where?' and almost do a doublecheck over my shoulder before I realise it was me.

Conversely, my mother, who had me at the age of 22, went on to have four more children after me, the last when she was nearly 47. That time, she was doing the pre-natal doctor visits and would find herself heavily pregnant and hitting her late 40s, sitting side by side gum-chewing teenage girls as they took their tiny little bumps in to be checked out.

Then after she'd given birth and we'd take Max out in the pram, people would assume he was mine and that she was Granny. That REALLY got to her.

There is still just about a pattern. But very few people I know follow it any more. And I certainly don't like the idea of chemically burning your face to do so.

Don't do it. Slap on a bit more moisturiser and shout ya boo sucks to the beauticians of this world.

Life is just too short.

Anonymous said...

The salon mafia just wants to sell Product--they'd tell a fresh-faced 18 year-old she needed microdermabrasion if it meant a commission. I've seen department store cosmetics clerks hyperventilate when I walk by ("middle-aged woman not wearing makep at 12 o'clock-ALERT!") but so far I've avoided them. I'd rather spend money on books.

I agree with Anne-marie. Put on some moisterizer and sunscreen and you're golden.

Anonymous said...

Don't do the chemical peel! It's all downhill from there. Had a friend who did it and it was frightening, totally screwed up her skin. Best thing is prevention and it's never too late. Loads of sunblock spf 30 is what my dermatologist recommended. Moisturize in the morning and night (if you can remember).