Taking Stock


This morning for no plausible reason I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I might take stock. List my flaws. I mean, after valiantly slogging along all these years and with a fair amount of travail, my body has accrued imperfections. Should I share them with you? Probably not a good idea. On the other hand, candor, honesty, truth is in moderately short supply these days. I’d like us to get to know one another better…and so I thought, Why not?

To me, the worst is my Braqueian nose. Right side doesn’t match left. Being of fair complexion, exposure to the sun has resulted in abundant skin cancers. Once when a particularly big chunk on my nose had to be removed in a complicated way, the only plastic surgeon who accepted insurance was second tier. Amusing thing is, when I consulted him a couple of years later about something else, not remembering he’d done it, he pointed to my nose and said, “That’s terrible! You shouldn’t be walking around looking like that!” From time to time I wonder if people notice. I think they do but are just too polite to say, “Hey, Sylvia, that nose is off-kilter! Have it fixed!” It’s never been a convenient time to have it fixed.

The second flaw is my nose gets red. Rosacea. No, it’s not because I drink too much. It’s because of my mother’s Scottish Welsh genes. Thank goodness Revlon’s chemists have created a cover.

There’s the dead tooth. I have no idea what I did a thousand years ago, but I killed it. Unfortunately it’s prominent. Different color. But I have a new dentist these days—a lovely young woman—and when I asked if she could do something about it, she said, “I have an idea.” Goody.

And the bags under my eyes! Lord’a’mercy, so disheartening. Online I noticed there are eye creams that promise to eliminate bags, but they cost a small fortune. Asked my dermatologist about this. His reply: “Save your money and send your kids to college.” Except my kids have already been to college. However, my first great-grandchild entered kindergarten this week so I could save my cream-to-reduce-bags-under-the eyes money for him. Them. I have seven great-grandchildren so far. I doubt funds from not buying eye cream could educate them, but if I started dropping coins into the piggy bank…except I haven’t had any coins in my hand in months, everything’s by card…and where’d that piggy bank get to?

Should I mention the scar I see every morning when I’m trying to decide if I want to bother with eyebrow pencil? consequence of someone I used to know whamming me with a cast iron skillet in a drunken rage? Yes…it serves to remind me how blessed I now am.

The stitchery across my neck. You see, in the forties, the exciting new treatment for teenage acne was a miracle called x-ray. All my mother’s Beverly Hills friends said so, thus my mother took me to weekly x-ray treatments for my face. I want to mention here the thought that my daughter would never have done such a thing—would have researched it first, waited for evidence…but those were different days and of course I don’t blame my mother…she believed she was doing something scientifically avant-garde. Of course a couple of decades later doctors warned me to keep close watch on my thyroid. When I was sixtyish out it came. Excellent surgeon but his stitching has stayed pink. Once my portrait was painted by the superb portraitist Don Bachardy and sure enough, Don slashed in the long pink line. So I wear scarves.

A fetching scarf around the neck has been my trademark since I noticed Katharine Hepburn began wearing turtlenecks when her neck got crepy. Love my turtlenecks, too.

Speaking of wrinkles, some are crazing around my mouth and on my neck, but I pay no attention to them. I could, I guess, but I don’t. I’ve seen worse.

Mismatching titties. Years ago I had a lumpectomy. It thankfully gave me my life but took away symmetry. Not a problem…

What else? My right knee is metal which means when I kneel on it, I hear a crunch. But at least I can walk with it, most grateful.

And I still can see, hear, still have my hair and teeth…

And most of my wits. Working hard on preserving them. Read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s excellent Keep Sharp so I no longer make an excuse for not walking the mile every day…try to go to bed in time to get eight hours’ sleep…calm myself when I need to…don’t eat Fritos. Seriously, since I became disciplined about walking and sleeping, I’ve been surprised at how much more facile my thinking is. Markedly. (But I’m still a Scatterbrain…Bill says it’s because I’m missing the Put-It-In-The-Same-Place-Every-Time gene.)

Listen, we’re talking here about the exterior. The interior is what matters, and in that department, I am wildly blessed. Most grateful of all that my incomparable husband thinks I’m beautiful. Bill says I don’t have any flaws. If you won’t contradict him, I won’t either…

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