Grow old gracefully or fight it every step of the way? A woman's comical yet poignant view
To Tuck or Not to Tuck, That Is the Question?
Middle age has made its appearance and for the past ten years has dug in its heels. It is determined to stay and hold its position. Well, I guess it has really done more than hold its position. I see the effects of the slow but steady crawl of the lines, the droops, and the sagging skin. Where there was once taut smooth skin, whiskers have sprouted in the fertile soil of my upper lip. Who planted those seeds? The once silky chestnut locks have become, what did my hairdresser call it, mousy brown? I hate rodents, especially when used in reference to my crown of glory. The hour-glass shape, which had turned the heads of young and old men alike, has morphed into the thick midsection of Fat Albert. Loss of estrogen they say. Is that a double-knee I see? I didn’t realize knees were capable of looking like the chin of a chubby face. The shapely legs, which I once proudly revealed beneath my mini-skirt, have become a reasonable facsimile to a Google map displaying the roads of a busy city. I tried to convince myself that I was spending too much time in the sun as ‘freckles’ began to appear on my hands. What? Age spots you say?
They say that 50 is the new 40. Could have fooled me!
The kids are grown and on their own. It’s my time to explore new possibilities! The recent excursions to Walmart reveal a change in seasons. Instead of languishing in the grocery aisles hunting for bargains, I am inspecting the beauty section in search of cures to my fading youth. Like the shelves of an ancient alchemist, the overstocked shelves of the cosmetics department reveal potions and odd-looking ingredients to prepare a secret brew. Is that eye of newt? Waxes, scrubs, and age-defying products abound! Promising and guaranteeing a youthful appearance, the lure of the pricey products is hard to resist. If I were to calculate the years I could erase with their magical formulas, I could return to childhood!
The eroding ground beneath the former springtime bloom becomes a topic of conversation between my brother and me. He tries to cheer my gloomy spirit. I act out my Vanna White impersonation, as I sweep my hands with elegant finesse from the top of my head motioning downward to display the evidence of my distress, and I whine, “Look at this!”
“I know just what you need!” my brother convincingly declares, “A tummy-tuck!”
A tummy-tuck? I imagine the once flat toned abdomen, which I sacrificed on the altar of motherhood many years ago. The stretch marks have left the signature of each child, the tired middle droops with the heavy weight of the years gone by. If it was a musical instrument, I think my tummy would be an accordion. Does it matter? Should I embrace, as my son calls it, ‘mileage’? Or do I attempt to restore the luster? Have I converted from the once shiny new Cadillac into an antique Model-T with faded paint and a high mileage odometer? Isn’t it a federal crime to tamper with an odometer’s accuracy?
Twenty years ago, I would have vehemently opposed a woman’s intent to take such drastic measures to recapture her youth. The firm, flawless, fresh face of the ghost of youth past shakes her head in a disapproving manner as I consider the question. Her disdain of the desperate and feeble attempts of a woman to escape the ravages of time is apparent. In her arrogant and callous view, a woman should humbly submit to the ultimate winner in this battle. “Accept your losses and move on!” Confident in the full bloom of her beauty and unaware the time bandit will too one day rob her; she pronounces her indictment and quips, “Vanity!”
Should I chase the fleeting figure of the woman I once was? The wisdom of the adage ‘beauty is only skin deep’ rings in my ears. The vintage woman I have become retorts to the smug beauty of yesteryear, “Well, today it sounds less like a desperate grasp for something lost and more like a rite of passage: a nip here and a tuck there. Why not? Everyone’s doing it!” Who asked that brazen youth anyway? What does she know about the agony and the crushing pangs that come with the birth of old age? Besides, she had her time. Didn’t I say it was my time?
Grow old gracefully or fight it every step of the way? Another adage of wisdom states ‘if the barn needs paintin’, give it a new coat!’ Oh, I know the paint does not change the patina of the wood underneath, but it certainly makes it more appealing to the eye.
Count the cost has always been a theme in my decision-making. Is the fee I will pay greater with or without the tuck? With it, it costs hard-earned cash and a blow to my pride. Without it, it continues to cost a sorrowful anguish. Each time I step out of the shower and face what I see in the mirror, the looming debt rises. Vanity?
Which voice do I appease: the commanding utterance of the haughty and elusive goddess of beauty or the beckoning call of the withering queen who makes a plea for one final edict before she surrenders her reign?
To Tuck or Not to Tuck, that is my question.