Putting My Worst Face Forward

Lately my face has mounted a malicious campaign against me, and it’s being aided and abetted by my middle-aged eyes.

My near vision has deteriorated to the point where I can’t see myself clearly in the mirror unless I’m wearing reading glasses, so when I glance in the mirror I look great… as far as I know.  Wrinkles?  What wrinkles?  The soft-focus face I see in the mirror doesn’t have any.  It also doesn’t have any zits or nose hairs or big greebly chin-whiskers… until I put on my reading glasses and YIKES!

So I’ve gotten wise to the games of my traitorous body parts.  Now I wear glasses every time I look in the mirror.  They won’t get the better of me again!


A while ago I went for a physio treatment, then ran errands all over town.  When I finally got home I glanced in the mirror only to discover I had creases in my face that looked like a topographical model of the Grand Canyon.  No wonder people were giving me those wary sidelong glances.  Even a couple of hours later, the marks were still faintly visible.  Life just isn’t kind to redheads with fish-belly-white complexions.

So I developed a workaround for physio, propping my face at odd and uncomfortable angles so that I could get up off the table and still pop into the grocery store without frightening the other customers.

I smugly believed I’d won.  My face wouldn’t betray me again.

How wrong I was.

I recently discovered a floral art club that was having a public demonstration (and I just proofread that sentence and found I’d originally written “pubic demonstration”).  Anyhow, I popped in to take a look.  At the flowers.  Geez.

Being new in the area and hoping to make friends, I always try to put my best face forward at these events.  I was warmly welcomed and directed to a table where they offered free dainties and coffee/tea along with (to my delight) chocolate-dipped strawberries.

I snagged a couple of strawberries and sat down to gobble the goodies.  Then, being extra-careful because I wanted to make a good impression, I mopped my face thoroughly with the napkin just in case I had any vestiges of chocolate left on my lips.

The floral demonstration went on much longer than I’d expected, so I had to leave early to get to some other appointments.  Thank goodness I’d been sipping tea, because that meant I also needed to pee.

I ducked into the washroom on my way out, and no; I didn’t have any chocolate on my lips.  But I must have dropped a chunk onto the napkin before wiping my face, because my right cheek sported a giant dark-brown smear.  It was big enough to be easily visible from outer space anywhere in the room; and I’d been sitting there for an hour.  No wonder the other women had given me those odd tentative smiles before turning hurriedly away.

So my face has won another round.  I don’t even want to know what it has planned next, but I’m sure I’ll soon find out.

Please tell me I’m not the only one battling a subversive face…


So I’m zipping through the grocery store to grab a couple of things for dinner.  Tired, hungry, and cranky.  Groceries in hand, I waver between checkout lanes.  Which will be faster:  The lineup containing two people with carts piled high, or the lineup containing five people with only a few items each?

I don’t know why I bother wondering, because I already know the answer:  Whichever line I choose will be the slowest.

But wait!  A new lane just opened up, and there’s only one nice elderly lady with a quart of milk and a rutabaga ahead of me!  I slide in behind her, dreaming of home and dinner.

The cashier rings up the order and the little old lady smiles and hands over a twenty-dollar bill.  No coupons, no hassle.

Home free…

“Oh, just a minute,” she says cheerfully.  “I’ll give you the thirty-five cents.”

She rummages through her purse.  Once.

Then twice.

My dreams crash down in disarray.

“I’ve got it right here,” she assures the cashier, extracting her change purse at last.  “Here’s a quarter.  I know I have a dime in here…”  *rummages some more*  “Oh, I guess I don’t.  Well, here are two nickels…  Oh, did I give you another quarter?  Wait, I know I’ve got two nickels…”

Meanwhile, the people in the other lineups have all paid and departed.  I clench my teeth and wonder whether they’d rule it justifiable homicide if I throttled that nice little old lady, who is still excavating her change purse in search of the elusive nickel.

But guess what?  The fates must have a twisted sense of humour, because I just became that little old lady.

I know, I know; I’m sorry!  *flees from enraged pitchfork-wielding mob*

It was an ugly shock when I caught myself digging through my change purse in the checkout line.  I’d like to say I froze in humiliation and immediately whipped out my tap-and-go credit card instead, but I didn’t.  I knew I had two nickels, dammit.

Clearly old age is sneaking up on me.  Six years ago I mentioned that even when I’m looking great I still only look great ‘for my age’.  That seemed important at the time, but now the surest sign that I’m getting older is that I really don’t care anymore.  I’m fine with the way I look, and if anybody else doesn’t like it?  Tough noogies.

But I’m not completely free of vanity.  In fact, I’ve developed a foolproof way to look more youthful:  Forget nips and tucks and lotions and potions – it’s all about geography.  Where we used to live in Calgary, the median age is 36.  In our new area on Vancouver Island, the median age is 66.  So when we moved out here, I was instantly transformed from a worn-out old bag 17 years over the hill to a dewy young thing.  Ta-da!  And it only cost my life’s savings plus most of my sanity!  How often do you get a deal like that?

And hey, maybe now that I’m so much younger I won’t have to hold up a checkout line searching for change again; at least not for another decade or so.

So that’s my two cents worth for this week.  Wait, let me get my change purse…

Phantom Glasses Syndrome

It pains me to admit that despite my commitment to remaining as immature as possible, my eyes have ignored the mandate and grown up.  In fact, they’ve embraced middle age with the same fervent enthusiasm as a teenager with a first crush.

The instructions on everything are now written in much smaller print than they used to be.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  My distance vision is sharp and clear, but I spend far too much time hunting for the correct pair of reading glasses.

One pair for computer work.  Another pair for close work.  A third pair for that awkward range between one and four feet.  Bifocals for when I need to alternate frequently between close and mid-range.  I have umpteen pairs of glasses lying around the house, but the chances of finding the pair I need when I need them are slim to none.

Not only that, but I’m developing Phantom Glasses Syndrome.  Again.

When I was young I wore glasses fulltime.  When I finally switched to contacts it took about two years for me to stop pushing my glasses up on my nose even though the glasses were long gone.

Just to compound the embarrassment, I was young enough when I started wearing glasses that I didn’t know the significance of the middle finger.  And when I first developed the habit of pushing up my glasses, that was the finger I used.

Trust me, you haven’t been truly humiliated until you realize you’ve inadvertently flipped the bird to the entire audience at a public-speaking competition.

At least these days I know enough not to involve the middle digit in my habitual tics; but there’s still ample scope for embarrassment.  My distance vision is so good now that it drives me nuts to look through reading glasses and have everything in the distance blurred.  So if I look up from my close work for even a minute, I perch the reading glasses on top of my head.

You can see where this is going.  Yep:  Me, running around loudly cursing my lost glasses, only to have Hubby point out that they’re on the top of my head.

And that’s my other problem:  After spending so much time with my glasses up there, I feel the grip of the earpieces on my temples whether they’re there or not.  So now whenever I need glasses, I pat the top of my head first.  It’s okay if the glasses are actually there, but it looks pretty damn foolish when they’re not.

Fortunately I’ve discovered that my need for dignity is inversely proportional to my age.  So I’m thinking about adding a verbal tic to that habit just for shits and giggles.  Imagine, if you will, a middle-aged woman patting her own head and murmuring softly, “Good girl, Diane; good girl!”

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m tempted.  It would make social gatherings quite a bit more interesting… at least until people stopped inviting that weird old bag who keeps patting herself and mumbling.

But I suppose that’s still better than flipping everybody off.

Or maybe not… 😉

Anybody else have Phantom Glasses Syndrome?