From the time a person is in their early 20s until they are in their early 30s, the human brain takes notes on what the face attached to the front of it’s protective cover looks like. Maybe it fears losing the face in the future and, rightly so as that is exactly what happens.
In the advancing years, the brain continues to compile data, screeching to a halt at about 35, where it begins to perform the equivalent of plugging the ears, closing the eyes and chanting, “I can’t hear you,” when confronted with a reflection.
This response may be triggered by a line from the nostril directing a viewer towards the chin, which no longer holds up its end of the bargain. Sure, the bones are doing their best but the chin is a slacker. And then there are the wrinkles just above and between your eyes which can cause youngsters to cling to their smooth faced mothers and whisper, “Why is that lady so angry?”
At first, the brain dismisses these early warnings, until the morning when you wake up with a crease across your face, you know, the kind where your twenty-something self dove into your bed the previous night, achieved the perfect belly flop and felt no need to move until morning, Cold water was the magic elixir which re-claimed your face in your youth but now an Atlantic ocean baptism won’t do the trick.
The brain stacks up that day’s face against the previous face and determines it is lacking something, but assures itself that the skin will smooth out again, much like the sheets on a bed would if you made your bed in the morning, which, of course, you don’t.
On this particular day, you go about your business, assured that you are cute as a button, a nice smooth button, when in fact when you step into a bathroom to wash your hands you are taken aback by the fact that your skin has a certain corduroy quality and I don’t mean that in a good way.
You decide to check into the products that are advertised on such programs as Ellen and General Hospital. Those girls look like me, you think, making the funny bone titter. Problem is, those girls do look like you when you were 18, because the spokeschild is, indeed 18.
You begin to realize that this might be the new norm, the flowering of womanhood, as Oprah might call it and you hate it. You blame America where we strive to remain “girls” or “misses” at all costs and women who have long ago trotted into Ma’am territory bristle at the kid behind the movie counter who properly addresses the customer as such.
This is where denial either takes hold with both fists or…it takes hold with both fists. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of what your brain insists is your real face in the rear view mirror of a car. It’s best not to screech to a halt however, in one’s exuberant recognition.
Dirty windows can be an ego boost, as are young waiters who sincerely find the face of your new reality compelling and attractive, with no monetary enticement whatever. What you don’t want to do is ask a kid, “how old do you think I am,” or glance at your reflection in a department store dressing room, because although you’re beginning to hit the point of no return, your brain still insists that there’s some kind of scam being perpetrated by every glass surface in the world and you agree because you have no choice. As a result, you continue to greet your reflected visage at the level of shock akin to a puppy confronted with a jack-in-the-box.
At this point you have three choices, surgically stretch your upper lip skin into your hairline, pump poison into your face and hope the FDA waits until you’re dead to discover the terrifying side effects or pout. If you’re Oprah, your options expand considerably, including, but not limited to, photoshopping every reflective surface in her world and paying people to agree with your brain’s skewed perception. The rest of us are screwed.