PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

Jean Shriver

Twice this week I forgot my blood pressure pill. However, I remembered to pat on the cream I bought because it claims it will make the bags under my eyes disappear. Thus proving that in my case vanity is stronger than the will to survive.

Chances are that as hard as I work, I’ll eventually lose the battle against encroaching age. But right now I’m pinning my faith on expensive creams and my lifelong run of good luck to fight the depredations of time.

What do you suppose aging beauties think when they look in the mirror and see their lovely faces sagging and collecting wrinkles? I’ll never know, because I never was a beauty.

I grew up as a nice healthy girl with a mass of curly brown hair. My nearsighted eyes condemned me to wear glasses pretty much all the time. Glasses in my day were what the plain secretary wore, before she took them off and turned into the beautiful love interest for the movie hero.

I used to take my glasses off whenever I went out on a date, but was so blind that I had to be steered away from blundering into the men’s room in restaurants.

Late in my twenties, I finally got contact lenses and reveled in the excitement of learning to use mascara and eyeliner. One of the few advantages of age is that cataract and lasik surgery have meant throwing away my specs and lenses and relying on nothing but readers from the 99 cents store.

Most of my life I was almost five foot five and had a trim waist. Then suddenly, as the eighties crept on (mine not the century’s), I found myself measuring five foot two with a waistline that had, as they say, gone to hell in a handbasket.

“Don’t try surgery,” advised the physical therapist to whom I was whining, ”That’s not fat in there, that’s you.”

A relative added, “Relax, you’ve just developed the Nelson stomach.” Checking the family photo albums proved a long line of my forbears had also lost their waistlines in later decades, but honestly that isn’t much of a consolation—especially when trying on dresses.

For a while, I fought against age by dyeing my hair. I asked my hairdresser just to make it a plain old brown, the color it had been when I was young. But apparently there was some hidden red that, when dyed, turned my hair orange.

That was insult enough, but at the same time, hair began falling out. A picture taken during this period showed sunbeams slanting through a paltry headfull of thinning strands colored a peculiar shade of tangerine. Fortunately my husband likes white hair and I am happy to oblige.

All around me, contemporaries are falling prey to serious illness and worse.

I know I shouldn’t be dwelling on paltry complaints like bags under my eyes. But when they are a new phenomenon, every look in the mirror is a shock.

Nora Ephron wrote that she felt bad about her neck, but that’s not my hang-up. You can always wear turtlenecks or scarves to cover your neck wrinkles. But unless you want to go bumbling through life wearing very dark glasses, your eyes will always be on display.

Still, I must admit I’m happy to be relatively healthy and upright.

So I’ll keep patting on my fancy cream morning and night and hoping for the best.

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