outside and in

Pouting was not popular at home.

  My much older sister had had a fearsome scowl as a child (I’ve seen pictures) and if I looked disagreeable, I was warned either “I shouldn’t look like that, dear, it might stick …” or “That face would turn the milk sour !”   Of course between my youth and the young women I see around me, Brigitte Bardot to name but one gave the pout adorability, cuteness, sex appeal – all possible if you have one of those neat sweet little faces.  Pass.    

I thought of all this the other day while waiting for a bus beside a young woman

who looked as if she had half a golfball inserted into her upper and lower lip. 

I thought of John (not his name) a gay ex cop (never was the word gay less appropriate) who after a year of worrying about uncomfortable skin eruptions admitted he had had the lines on his faced injected some time before – by a woman who did it cheaply in a garage.  It makes you wonder …  God knows, you have trouble enough with bad builders.

  Do you want to let them into your body, the only one you have, unknowing what, how, if, longterm consequences, etc ?

There was a great turn of the century beauty who had wax injected into her face  – a treatment at the time – but it moved and melted till she was eerily ugly and became a recluse until she died.  And even that’s a story of privilege – for the rest of us, you’d have to go to work, hideous or not.  Though often I think there is a major disjunction now, between what you look like and what the rest of us see.    

What you do to make yourself tolerable to yourself varies.    I say this in genuine humility, never having had a serious accident or (for years) a life threatening disease.  There was Angela (not her real name) a doctor who had re imagined her hair to a dull golden brown straight bob and her nails to hyper natural involving tips, an immaculate French manicure and more maintenance than a Ferrari.   That’s how she felt like Angela.  Late in the day, she confided that she had been violently sexually attacked on a working trip in the US.  Truly horrible, so you forbore questions

but I wondered if the reinvention was part of how she coped – because cope she did, admirably. What happened to her was just as shattering as a bad car accident and she was left to pick up the pieces.

It’s a long way from making the best of yourself – drink water, don’t smoke, eat green vegetables, take exercise, a cream that suits your skin, a shampoo that suits your hair – to accepting that you only feel like yourself (never shall I forget the woman who wrote this to me) at a certain weight.   Look – I feel better when I weigh less.  I have been both more and less but I have never attributed my mood to either one except in passing because my waistband feels more comfortable or I don’t like that curve on my back …  Myself is not lodged in any external feature, good or bad.  Myself is me, my soul, my spirit, my personality, the inner woman … 

So strongly do I believe in her that I take her out and use her with the intelligence of mature life experience and the hopefulness of a child.  I’d say, I don’t take unnecessary risks but I take necessary ones.   Necessary because I am haunted (see annalog “because one has no friends..” etc) by how lonely people can be, how much a kind word matters.  So I am a dedicated little human bridge builder, even if the bridge only last 15 seconds and a grin.   And increasingly I am aware that – mask or no mask – I am committed to try and make connection through voice and eyes and my voluble hands – anything else that works.

A new tall young man has begun to work in the nearby convenience store.  Locked off.  Not a flicker.  Next time I saw him, I made a remark about a newspaper headline.  He looked surprised. The next time after that, he teased me by hiding a paper reserved for me.   This morning we greeted each other with smiles.  So far, untaxed.   

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