Beauty Is The Beast

(November 2007)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and only skin deep.  But vanity is to the bone.  Neck vertebrae C3 through C7, in my case.

I’ve been out of commission off and on with this sometimes serious, mostly obnoxious, medical issue.  It’s had me worried.  In theory, there should be another fifty years of fight in this old girl, but it seems my neck has outpaced me by about forty of them.  That leaves me staring down a four decade deficit of head support; a problem indeed for someone with a melon like mine.

But it can’t be that bad.  I still manage my ridiculous nightly liturgy, my ritual sacrifice of skin cells to the God of Crowsfeet.  First of all, I have to get my hair out of the way and for me, for some reason, a headband or hair-tie just won’t do.  No, I have to be the bath towel Sikh warrior, with a swirl of terrycloth rising a foot and a half off my noggin.  And this is a bit of a challenge when I can’t bend my head to load it into the turban. But still, I persevere.  I should join the circus.

Smearing goop over my face and its traitorous stalk isn’t a problem.  My hands work just fine, even through the surges of pins and needles.  It’s the rinsing it off again that’s a chore.  Have you ever seen the brittle contortions a giraffe goes through to get its lips to the waterhole?  Legs splayed, back tilted to an improbable angle, the clock ticking minutes rather than seconds off its life, just to strike the pose?  Yeah, that’s me at the sink, straining down to slap the acide de beauté off before I have nothing left but cheekbones peeking through shreds of muscle.  It’s a sign of the times that I have to pause and think about which is worse – exfoliating myself to a grinning skull with eyebrows or conceding to the indignity of collagen-poor canyons running from the base of my nose down to the corners of my mouth.

I still shave my armpits, although I can’t see them.  Not even close.  I raise my arms, shut my eyes tight and hope with all that’s in me that those glinting triple blades aren’t spiteful.  Blow-drying my hair is a tedious exercise when I can’t get the nozzle anywhere near the back of my head.  But I manage to do it anyway.

And I’m fortunate I didn’t put my eye out plucking brow arches with the tremors I had two weeks ago.

So, it’s unpleasant.  My head hurts all the time and it takes me half an hour to unload the dishwasher. I cringe at the predictions of Frankenstein pins and bionic disk replacements that await me in the inevitable future.  My nightly cocktail is at odds with my ibuprofen, scouring away at my stomach lining and forcing me into abstinence.  But I’m thinking I can save the serious fretting until I’m too out of sorts to shave my legs.

Honestly, it can’t be fatal if I’m still willing to crane over the basin for a good view to ensure I catch all my eyelashes into the curler-thingy.  Or can it?


Author: jamiemason

Wrote THE HIDDEN THINGS, MONDAY'S LIE, and also THREE GRAVES FULL (Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books.) Might write something else if I'm not careful.

6 thoughts on “Beauty Is The Beast”

  1. So that was truly a great post! I can relate totally in some ways, but in an entirely different fashion. My neck, is fine. My other joints, however, are not so cherry. Everything bone I have cracks and pops. EVERY bone, from tailbone to toes, to fingers and spine. Even my nose has been known to make strange noises now and then. Most of them remain strong and functional though. Not so much with my hands. I wear splints on two fingers to prevent hyper-extension and lateral instability.
    Doesn’t sound all that bad, until I go one to say that I ride horses and work on a farm, and oh yeah, I write everything in long hand, including the eight hundred pges that comprise the two manuscripts that I’ve finished. Add to that eating, typing, fighting with my wild head of curls… You get the picture.
    Where beauty work is concerned, however, I am in the clear completely. Pen and paper don’t care if I’ve washed my face, or my brows plucked. I almost never shave my legs, a reluctance spawned from a laceration that could have used stitches. Needless to say, I’m glad to use what’s left of my hands for writing! Hey, I’m only 28, I’ve got a lot of years left to make my fingers last!

  2. More and more I’m thinking we’re kindred spirits, bodies aged well beyond our years. When Crystal’s pregnant I sometimes have to shave her legs for her. So have hubby do it. As for your armpits, well, please don’t go for the French look. ;)

  3. I have my moments. This was written a while back and I’ve since been largely pain free with a regimen of chiropractic adjustments and some PT exercises. The doctors’ say that I’ll have to get it fixed at some point, but for now – knock all the wood – I’m doing okay.

    Somehow the thought of my husband shaving my legs just makes me laugh too much.

    You people take care of yourselves! We can’t be that decrepit with such a low combined age.

  4. Not sure how I missed this post. I’m sorry to hear of your physical trials and tribulations. You are so beautiful both inside and out. Hang in there and know your words, both internally and externally, make such a difference.;-)

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