When I was a little kid in Tucson, my Mom had bought my Dad a skunk for his birthday. We named it Babette and she eventually used her workable thumb to escape our abode, out the back yard gate. Sadly, no one liked Babette mostly because that skunk didn’t like us, it would bite us and slash at us with its nails. The only one who could defend itself against the skunk was our cat Piewacket, who also did not like Babette.
One day my Mom, Sister and I saw a dead skunk in the middle of the road at the same moment that the Dr. Demento Show was playing the song “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” We wondered if the dead skunk was Babette, but the irony was so thick that none of us could stop laughing. We actually missed that fucking skunk. This is the memory that returns to me as I look at my hair, bleached to hide my inner skunk.
I wanted a platinum blond color that I would eventually transform to pure white. I figured if my hair was going to turn white anyway, why sit around waiting for it to happen? Why not simply help things along a bit, and bleach my hair as white it could possibly get. White hair is a fashion statement is it not? But the beautician I had chose a different route, and she gave me what my husband fondly calls cinnamon hair. Somewhere between a cinnamon stick and golden honey. I didn’t like it at first, but now it’s kind of grown on me. It probably works better with my complexion than platinum blond would, and my hair might fall out if I continue to try to make it white. What makes a woman look older, white/gray hair or being bald?
I looked in the mirror again, but this time at the lines in my face, my neck, and my naked chest before I enter the shower. Last night I noticed that in iTunes, one of the top new applications for the iPhone was called “Boob Job.” This application allows you to augment your breasts, make them even or uneven as the developers suggest: lopsided breasts for everyone!(1) The application cost $.99, and so I downloaded it. I took a picture of my cat, and I tried to give him cat breasts. It didn’t work. I tried to give myself breasts, and that didn’t work either …. Figures (or a lack of one anyway). What a waste of money. I am convinced that the only reason this application is in the top 10 is because it contains the word “boob.” The picture advertising the app is of the Mona Lisa with augmented boobs; finally we have improved upon the most amazing piece of art ever painted by giving her tits … Leonardo would be proud!
So many things have changed on my body. When I think of myself, I don’t think of myself this way: old. When I think of myself, my neck doesn’t have all those wrinkles (Oh god, not the start of goose neck), my eye lids do not droop. My stomach was flat once and now I am hundred and forty-four pounds. I grabbed the fat around my belly button and I shake it. I make my bellybutton talk: “Yo, old lady! Watz uppppp?”
However, for a 45-year-old woman I am rather strong. About a year and a half ago I won a Kumite Karate (sparing) contest against a much younger woman at my skill level and in my division. She was a spry little thing but my roundhouse kick is fierce. I took first place with sparring and was delighted over my ability to win a fight with a woman who had to be in her mid-20s. A few weeks ago I joined an amateur Roller Derby team, and I suspect I am the oldest member in our group. My Derby name? Mental-pause (what the hell). I love roller skating and competitive sports. I’m not a weakling, but I must admit that I hate the way everything hangs on my body now. I can no longer find clothing to make me feel attractive. I love getting older and wiser, being better able to understand my world around me, but I hate that everything is changing in my body from the way the skin hangs off my bones, to how my period affects me monthly, to an increase of migraines. Which is partly why I cannot stop thinking of my Mom, her menopause and her struggle with migraines – I simply pray that her struggles will not become mine.
(1) Golijan, Rosa. “iPhone app gives anyone a boob job.” Gadgetbox at MSMBC.com. 13 July, 2011. Web. 21 July, 2011 from http://gadgetbox.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/07/13/7075959-iphone-app-gives-anyone-a-boob-job