I had a birthday. Not a big important birthday, but still, a milestone that forced me to once again face the sad truth in the mirror.
I gaze blearily at my reflection as I engage in dental hygiene. After all, I remind myself, I may have lost control over many of the things my body seems determined to do, but I can still have clean teeth.
I brush and floss,(alright, so I only brush and hear the echoing voice of my dental hygienist telling me to floss), and I flash a wide grin at myself.
Yeah, I rock. My teeth are clean, and semi-white.
I keep the lights low, but I am forced to face other obvious truths.
I am not hitting this birthday at my best.
Somewhere in the past couple of months my hair decided it was time to turn into straw. I recall the tale of Rumpelstiltskin where an evil, but obviously gifted artisan is able to weave straw into gold.
I suspect some evil fairy tale character has decided to reverse engineer the process and turn my hair into straw.
Will I get a kingdom for this? A crown?
Maybe a haircut?
I look closer.
At the same time my hair demonstrates it has crossed some aging threshold, my skin is declaring it is time to return to adolescence. Is it dewy and fresh? Is it smooth and creamy?
No, it has returned to the age of acne.
Excellent. My hair is aging like a portrait of Dorian Grey, while my skin is regressing to a time better left forgotten.
I recently perched on an examination table in a dermatology office discussing this exact point.
This is the first time I’ve met this dermatologist, but I am not surprised by her attractive appearance. This particular dermatology practice is populated by a number of attractive female doctors who all share the aspect of perfect skin.
I guess if you are a dermatologist this is a good thing.
She leans in to get a really good look at my sad skin. We are inches away from each other.
She is looking at this outbreak of redness, blemishes and weirdness on my face.
I am looking at her smooth perfect skin. She leans in closer and I scrutinize her face more carefully than I would dare to look at myself.
Her pores are invisible.
I could hate her, but she is taking care of me.
She assigns a name to what is happening to my skin. Something with the words derma and titus in it.
But she tells me it is really just adult acne.
I try to convince myself this is a sign of youth and vitality, and not another instance of my body going haywire as I age.
I have almost made it to that point when she makes a couple of notes on her screen and asks me, “Are you on Medicare?”
I think about leaping off the table in the examination room to protest, but I am stopped by the fear I will break a bone. After all, I have clearly reached a point where all my actions must be determined by injury risk.
I want to say something like:
“You can’t tell me I have acne and ask about Medicare in the same sentence.”
Or possibly, “I think asking about Medicare, or senior discounts on someone else’s behalf is like asking about pregnancy.”
I understand she is taking care of me in my obvious old age.
I get that she is providing medical care.
But, dude! (As I guess someone might say who is woefully out of touch with current day expressions).
So, about my birthday.
It was fine. I did stuff. I took myself out to lunch. My husband took me out to dinner, and my daughter sent cupcakes. So at least I was well fed.
I took my straw hair, acne face and weirdly changing body outside my house. Of course, first I checked to be sure my arthritic cat was well cared for.
The two of us are aging together.
She is stiff in the morning, and I know just how she feels.
Even though she is aging, her fur is still glossy and her eyes are luminous.
Person-hood can be hard.
But at least I can look forward to paying for medication to treat my acne with my Medicare benefits.
How many people can say that?