My Fading Youth
8:15 a.m. I was on the 101 north, driving to Tarzana for an interview that Mandy had set up for me. The hows and whys kept firing at me like a machine gun, and it was hard to make sense of any of it. How did this happen? It suddenly manifested itself, and why did my good friend Mandy fail to mention it before? She never missed anything, especially on the face. How incredibly disappointing, and frustrating, that I’ve now succumbed to a wrinkle. Why could I not keep the wrinkle away for a little longer, at least until I met someone. Why my forehead? Why today? And how on earth should I combat it?
I was sure that I’d learned how to manipulate my facial expressions into non-expressions, that I could have a conversation, or a private thought, or even look straight into the sun without squinting or moving my forehead up and down, up and down. I spent years focusing on Mandy and learning how to express myself by using my hands, and not from anywhere above the bridge of my nose, or the sides of my eyes. The scientific facts of how the skin sustains its plumpness and elasticity had eluded me, and for good reason. I was convinced that any long, deep, crooked wrinkle that was thinking of popping up—would think again—and just give up, moving to another face instead. Perhaps to a more deserving face than mine, an actor’s face, a person whose livelihood and career depended on their ability to express a sad, happy, or angry countenance. My friends have spent plenty of money over the years injecting Botox or getting a brow lift, it’s an obsessive preoccupation that has swept over every single person I know. Needles and surgery, definitely not my cup-of-tea, and certainly something I’ve never contemplated doing myself. But looking young is infectious, there’s no option, and if I were to go down the Botox route would I not be committing myself to a life sentence of treatments, because the wrinkles eventually return? Surgery is definitely out of the question, and if I decide on Botox in the end, at least the injections utilize the smallest needle possible. Wrinkles are like dirty laundry or dirty dishes, they never disappear and always return with a vengeance. I’m not certain that I can handle the tiny needle paralyzing my forehead muscles for a few months, even though it would mean months of peace and a false sense of youthfulness.
I stared into the car mirror knowing that only that mirror would tell the truth; the combination of light and reflection would never lie. Oy, it is a wrinkle, and it’s long, and crooked, and ugly and carved into my skin the way a river carves into dry sand. I’m not sure I like that analogy; it makes me feel like a dried-up prune. Don’t like that one either, I better quit now.
The traffic was at a complete standstill, so I seized the opportunity and desperately tried to rub the wrinkle off by using my finger, just to make sure it wasn’t a shadow, or dirt, or my imagination. Nothing changed though; it was a permanent engraving in my skin. I stretched my skin to the sides of my face: ah, that looks good, actually great, just the way it should be. If it could only stay that way once I let go. Stay, stay, stay, I’m letting go.