It’s A Fine Line…

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that fashion is not exactly… okay, fine; just not… my thing.  But every now and then I get a niggling feeling that maybe I should try a little harder.

It usually happens on a day when I’ve been immersed in some project, and I discover that I urgently need a tool/part/ doohickey to finish the job.  So I zip to town, forgetting that I’m wearing my old clothes.  They were clean at the beginning of the day, but halfway through my project they’re decorated with dirt/sawdust/engine grease/paint/all of the above.  My hair is in a braid that started out tidy in the morning, but by now I’m wearing a halo of frizzy tendrils and the braid itself looks as though it went through a spin-washer and then got rolled in twigs (or other bits of work-related detritus).

That’s when I see her:  My nemesis.

Her hair colour, skintone, height, weight, age, and fashion style vary, but she always has one instantly recognizable characteristic:  She’s perfectly put together.

Her hair might be sleek or artfully tousled, but she clearly just stepped out of the salon.  Her makeup is flawless; her nails are polished; her clothing is pristine, fashionable, and well-fitting; her shoes are the stuff of dreams; and her jewellery accents her outfit.

We do not make eye contact.

I suffer a moment of hopelessly envious inadequacy, and then hurry off to buy my much-needed doohickey.  By the time I get home I’ve forgotten the whole episode, which sets me up to repeat it over and over.

All this occurred to me the other day when I found myself resenting the amount of time I spend on personal hygiene.  It was a worrisome thought, because five minutes with the nail clipper a couple of times a month constitutes my “manicure”, and my “beauty regime” consists of showering, slapping on some deodorant and a combination moisturizer/sunscreen, and letting my hair air-dry.  A bit of lip balm, and I’m good to go.

That’s when I started to wonder:  Where do you draw the line between “carefree and natural” and “a lazy slob”?

I realize that my nemesis would probably consider herself a lazy slob if she went out in public with a chip in her nail polish; but that’s not a helpful evaluation tool when the closest my nails have come to polish in the past three decades has been a splattering of blue house paint that wouldn’t come off for a week.

Notwithstanding my occasional sartorial slip-ups, I do usually make an effort to change my clothes before I leave home; and I figure as long as there’s no visible dirt and people can’t smell me coming, I’m doing okay.

Or maybe I’m just a lazy slob.  It’s a fine line…

Book 14 update:  I made it to Chapter 16 this week, woohoo!  I love it when I hit “the zone” and the words just flow.  🙂

Objects In The Mirror May Be Scarier Than They Appear

Mirrors.  When I need them to tell me the truth, they lie; and when I really, really want them to lie, they tell the truth.

I’ve found that it’s important to adjust my expectations based on which mirror I’m consulting.  The ones in our bedroom and bathroom are very slimming, which is a nice boost to my self-esteem on a daily basis, but it sets me up for disappointment when I look in any other mirrors.

The mirror in my workout area makes me look as though I’ve strapped a life preserver around my middle, but I’m pretty sure that mirror has an odd distortion at stomach height.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

And don’t even get me started about the mirrors in bathing suit stores.  Those ones tell the brutal truth about all the worst features of my body; and then they go ahead and pile on a bunch of ugly lies about my best features, too.  I’m pretty sure store mirrors were designed by Satan himself in the fiery depths of hell.

I was reminded of all this the other day.  No, I wasn’t buying a bathing suit – I don’t need that kind of trauma in my life.  I was looking in my magnifying mirror with my middle-aged eyes (wearing reading glasses, of course, because otherwise I wouldn’t see anything but a pink blur).

And I thought, “Well, those whiskers aren’t too obvious.  Guess I’ve got another day or two before I have to pluck them all out again.”

Then I realized the unfortunate truth:  Nobody my age will see my face-fur unless they’re peering at me from close range with reading glasses (and I’m pretty sure I’d notice that in time to take evasive action).  But younger eyes can see crystal-clear detail at any distance.

So those bristles I’ve been pretending “aren’t too noticeable”?  Yep, you guessed it.  To anybody with normal eyesight, I’m well on my way to a playoff beard.  Sadly, there’s no victory in sight.

Dealing with reality would take too much effort, so instead I’ve decided to invent the new and exciting “Middle-Age Mirror”.  For women, it’ll have subtle distortions at boob and waist height to bring back our hourglass figures, along with a nice soft-focus face area.  For the guys, the mirror will broaden the shoulders and minimize the beer belly, while providing a flattering magnification zone in a strategic place.

Now I only have to convince our legislators to make the Middle-Age Mirror mandatory in all public places.

Ahhh.  I look better already!

Book 14 update:  I’m almost finished Chapter 4, and those headstrong characters are surprising me already.  This is why I love writing  I never know what’s going to happen!