I’m staring in the mirror, and the wretched words cross my mind: She let herself go . . . “
I’m back from an outdoor weekend that’s left my hair straggled, my skin parched, my feet looking like claws. A light dusting of earth has settled inside my crevices.
“I have to clean myself up,” I say to the crone in the mirror, “before anyone sees me.” The cursed words echo -- “She let herself go . . . “
I hate being pampered. I don’t want a spa day -- too expensive, it’s done before you know it. I don’t want a fuss over my hair -- soon as I leave I change everything. I don’t want people swooning over my face with smirks on their own, humoring me.
Let’s call an emergency an emergency and stop with the aromas and elevator music. We need EMTs here.
I hate it all. Just not worth it.
Time to throw in the towel? Let the hair go, the skin go, the crusts harden? Long silver braids look so good on older women who are tall, lanky, have blue eyes, and wear long flowered skirts and earth sandals.
The facial? Glorious, but too quick. Even if they love you enough to sell you the best new wrinkle products ever. Wow!
The pedicure? Who wants strangers examining your silliest feature?
I argue with myself. The hair had been under a baseball cap, the skin behind layers of sunscreen, the feet inside hiking boots. Not much damage could have been done on the outside. The witch is unconvinced.
Weakened by her ratty state, she makes a dash for those haunts when the wreck needs a reckoning.
I huddle under a hair dryer to get the dye to stick to the wizened sideburn area. I let my skin be GPSed, every line examined like an ancient map. I end at the nail salon, throw my feet on a slab, my head bowed in supplication.
When all is done, the hair is too short, the facial turns my skin beet red, the pedicure never dries. During the night the pink polish, I’ll call it “roses ‘n regret,” swirls around. Just not worth it.
Truthfully, I don’t look any better than I did before. “She should have let herself go . . . “
I march back to the salon, frustrated. They redo the nails, I smudge again because they forget those toe separators. They do it again. One crooked toe folds on top of another, they do it again.
I swear this is the last time. Just not worth it.
As I leave, a FedEx guy half my age stops me, gazes at my feet which are bare because I’m afraid to ruin the polish again.
“Island Mama,” he croons. “You look like you belong in my home, Jamaica.” He smiles big as a sunset over the Caribbean.
“Ooh, I know Jamaica,” I croon back. It was a young med student there, I say, who taught me to go barefoot, let my hair float wild in the breeze, let my skin glow bronze, wrinkles be damned. “She let herself go, oh yes . . . “
“I know Jamaica,” I say again. “It was a long time ago.”
“Well, your feet look so pretty,” he adds. “I love that color. “
Now that was worth it.
August 11, 2019