A Wink and A Smile

My midlife crisis arrived like a midnight locomotive a decade later than expected. I gazed at myself in the mirror and realized it was time to face reality. I looked just like the woman who had given me advice all my life. Make room for Mama!

My hair ranged in color from brown to dog hair, depending on the week of the month, and "that week" had nothing to do with it. My real hair color was always a rich, luxurious brown. My hairdresser worked a miracle for me the first of each month. A week thereafter, my mane lightened to mousey brown, the third week the color washed out to butterscotch, and by the last week of the month, my hair gradually fades to mutt hair.

Mama always told me that happiness can’t be bought, but I never believed her for a minute. I watched her and Mrs. Clairol conspire to wash away the gray. I have spent plenty of money on lots of things that made me perk up. However, that euphoric feeling has always been transitory. My curly perm unfurled in surrender two weeks after I paid an arm and a leg for it. 

Mary somebody-or-other made a fortune off me. In fact my sales purchases contributed to the in-home sales representative being awarded a pink car, while I drove a clunker. Mama would wink at me and say, "Pretty is as pretty does. Don't spend all that money on makeup." 
 
No amount of make-up is helping me these days. My latest concern started with a gentle tug and smile. I noticed when I smiled, the vertical lines above my top lip disappeared. When I placed my fingertips at my hairline and gently pulled my hair back I was delighted with my youthful reflection in the mirror. Mama winked and warned me, "You're Italian and Native American; you're going to wrinkle. Nothing lasts forever, especially outer beauty."

I've been thinking a facelift might be the thing that brings me long-lasting happiness. My one droopy eyelid makes me look like a tired old gal— and Mom. I've considered duct taping that lid in a severe tug to my forehead when I sleep, but that would require smearing my eyebrow with lubricant to prevent the tape from sticking.  My brows are thinning as fast as my backside is thickening. I can’t take the chance. Convinced that the droop is because of the way that I sleep on my pillow, I've reverted to rolling my pillow and shoving it under my neck. I usually roll off the darn thing anyway and find myself face down in my own drool. 

I tried isometric facial exercises, but when I over emphasized my "oohs" and "aahs" the parenthesis around my mouth deepened and were set for the day. When I opened my trap, gazed at the ceiling and clamped my jaw, I developed a temporary ringing in my ears, not to mention a crick in my neck. I’m a mess. My chin is blending into my neck, so I’ve been walking around as the instructions suggest, with my chin thrust out and my nose in the air. My neighbors think I’m being snooty. I'm not. I'm really very friendly. 

Mama passed on to me the best advice my grandma taught her about her personal appearance: As long as you're clean and your clothes are pressed, the only make up you need as you age, is lipstick to brighten your face.

I outline my lips with expensive tinted gloss. I've even taken to smearing a dab on each cheek, but I still appear tired, snooty, clownish. 

I’ve reached a milestone called self-acceptance. I've decided to live with the droopy eyelid; it gives me character, or maybe it just makes me look like a character, especially when I wink back at Mom and have to push that bit of saggy flesh back into place. 

Mama always said "Honey, it might be the outside that people see, but it's what's inside that really matters." Mama knew what she was talking about. 

Now I smile and wink when I give my daughter advice on moisturizer, makeup, and men. I'm passing along Mom's best advice. 

-Linda O'Connell

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Linda O'Connell's work has been published in regional, national and international publications. She is a seasoned teacher, humor and inspirational writer, and an award winning poet. Linda has  written for exposure, compensation, and dark chocolate. The beach tugs at her Midwest soul the way the moon tugs the tide.