Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I See

It was a perfect autumn day.  Not too cool.  Jacket weather.  Just right…for another doctor’s appointment!  It seems all my annual check-ups fall in the autumn.  I really don’t like being my own care-taker, but I’m just trying to put things in order.  This is a colossal task, one that demands patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had.

I confess I rather dread these excursions into the various clinics, overflowing with lab coats and congenial office personnel.  Grinning nurses always trigger paroxysms of anguish, and I begin breathing head-lightening quantities of CO2.

  What peculiar rituals.  The techs drain my infinitesimally private bodily secretions into trickling pools of humiliation to examine under a cold, unforgiving, soulless microscope.  And then they return with test results, diplomatically explaining that my shiny vitreous crystals, my lavishly polluted flaky biotate mica, and a dazzlingly confused biological geology confirm what they have long suspected…I’m eroding away to detritus.

So last  week when I went for my eye exam, I hid my dread behind my best game expression, assuming a detached strata of consciousness.  I did not want the doctor to enter the room and be confronted by a woman with eyes like a startled beast.

(I have reached that point in life when you consider it the supreme triumph to fog a mirror and have a full set of limbs.)

Well, the doctor went about placing drops in my eyes to dilate them, so he could beam his arc light into my pupils and cause aggravated brain freeze.  And then he got right into my face and asked me to read teeny weeny passages in a darkened room that became incrementally tinified, and I developed a migraine.  Finally, in a merciful act of benevolence, he concluded his scrutiny of my eyeballs and delivered his verdict.

With enthusiastic vigor and fevered delirium, he announced I had the best cataracts on the planet.

Whattttt???  I have catarAAAACCCCKS???? I shrieked, losing every shred of my mysterious serenity.

He said yes, explaining that the forward rush of life can be hostile, one of the perils of this hostility being  cataracts.  However, my cataracts are so minimal, they were not even worth mentioning. He explained that everybody “of a certain age,” has cataracts. It’s normal. I think that’s optometrist-speak for, “You’re old.”  But he just has never seen such preposterously undiscernible cataracts as mine.  Apparently my eyes have gone from 20/25 to 20/20.

Well, I finally caught the vision, so to speak.  I was as happy as the day I found out caffeine is a natural pesticide.  I became giddy.  And I left that exam room warbling, “I Can See Clearly Now,” “My Eyes Are Watching You,” “She’s Got Betty Davis Eyes,” “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.” 

Furthermore, the good doctor said I have excellent eyeballs.   So I’ve decided to flaunt them with studied ostentation and pomposity.  We all have our physical attributes.  But when you have a figure like the number 11, you take your curves where you can get them!   

I am reluctant to toot my own vuvuzela, but I plan to expose my visual prowess by reading the side effects on every prescription bottle in the pharmacy, with one eye tied behind my back.  I will peruse the telephone book as recreation, take up crocheting, and spend my leisure time threading needles with spider silk.  I will guzzle lutein, and swill shakes of liquefied spinach and carrot juice from a straw.  I will look at every vista and adopt a confident gaze with eyes of chipped granite.

Hey, it’s not a sin to over-indulge in things that are good.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Patience Stone

November 2013

I just found out that it was Vivian Leigh’s 100th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I was stunned.  Scarlett O’Hara a century old?  How could that be?  It seems like the ingenious woman who created haute couture from the dusty drapes hanging in Tara’s windows could figure out a method for eluding Father Time.

 I guess tempus fugit…for all of us.

Scarlett was such a fashion icon.  I always wanted to be like her, but alas, my house is adorned with sheers and shutters – not exactly the stuff of runways.

Hattie McDaniel’s character was also iconic.  As time goes by, my figure is more like Mammy’s, slightly stout and definitely NOT the 18 & 1/2 inch waist impossibility Scarlett achieved by cinching in her midsection into a steel vise.  And my voice is eerily reminiscent of Prissy’s, high-pitched and hysterical.

 I seem to have become a consortium of all Margaret Mitchell’s characters, with the exception of Melany Hamilton.  I’m relatively certain I couldn’t assist in the amputation of someone’s leg without anesthetic…at least for me.

Ah, but I digress. 

Halloween came and went, and I noticed at the children’s costume parade that there were more kids dressed up as old people than in previous years.  And I wondered if it was because of super-model Heidi Klum.  She had herself transformed into an elderly woman with the aid of make-up artists, and she was amazingly convincing.

They began the process by applying a prosthetic neck, complete with ripples, wattles and pleats.  Then they grayed her skin and liberally splattered counterfeit liver spots.  Of course, there was the mandatory fake fat butt, faux blue protruding varicose leg veins, crooked, disfigured gloves over her perfectly manicured hands, a wig of thinning, scalp-revealing hair, and pock-marked, cellulite thighs.

Heidi wore orthopedic shoes, droopy stockings, and a frumpy dress.  In addition, she donned a body suit with pendulous boobs.  Then she walked funny – tottering, awkward and unbalanced. She was converted into a mocking cliché of the aged.

 In short, she morphed into me!

It was the perfect hoax.  She was a hit.  Everyone was fooled and entertained.

And then, after all the attention and kudos, Heidi Klum dismantled her disguise.  She took off the butt, the boobs, and the wattles.  She removed the wig, the phony teeth, the veins and the liver spots.  She stepped out of the shoes, the stockings and the dress.  Then she let loose her long, luxurious Repunzal hair and took up residence in her impossibly perfect, 30-something body.

I hate Heidi Klum.

Time is merciless.  It is a tyrant, a terrorist.  It not only passes.  It inflicts collateral damage.  We are all casualties.

Oh, how I want to step out of MY disguise and take up residence in a perfected anatomy.

Well, needless to say, the whole Scarlett O’Hare/Heidi Klum thing made me want to flee to my “patience stone.” 

In folklore, supposedly a patience stone is a rock that will carry a woman’s most unbearable secrets.

And after being traumatized by Halloween, Heidi and the O’Haras, I have a whole lotta classified information to confess to a rock. 

So, here are some of my most palpable fears and insecurities. Perhaps by naming my dragons, I can slay them. 

       1.       I dread watching the contents of my medicine cabinet eventually consist of nothing but anti-depressants, stool softeners, diet pills and suppositories.

2.       I deplore having to convince myself that wrinkles give a face character.

3.       I detest the necessity of perfecting the art of “blame behaviors.”

4.       I have an abhorrence of humiliating myself in public so frequently that embarrassed family members discreetly google “A Place For Mom.”

5.       I panic at the thought of rejection, and am miserable with fear of abandonment.  (Refer to #5)  Although my will IS  my leverage,  I have also threatened to appear in public without benefit of make-up, burqa or Depends. It keeps the tribe in line.

6.       I resent having to research the best orthopedic surgeons for hip and joint replacement and keeping them on speed dial.

7.       I decry the fact that I’ve had most of my nonessential organs removed, and have to assuage my anxiety by considering those organs redundant anyway.


I suppose we all fear the thought of sitting in a care facility with nothing to do but try to split our unibrow with rusty tweezers. 

No one wants their life’s legacy to be that of benign inconsequence.

So I’m going rogue.

I plan to be a burden - a big burden - on my family and community.

 I will proclaim my bunion-count to be evidence of a higher IQ, and unexpected belching a social amenity.

 AND, I categorically refuse to be embarrassed, mortified, or ashamed by intestinal transit that results in unintentional bodily emissions – heard or unheard.

I may be inextricably skidding toward a permanent vegetative state, but I will do so on my own terms.

I hate Heidi Klum.