I have been obsessing about my eyes lately. Not the color (still a lovely cerulean, thank you, Daddy's genes) or the prescription (which I need to have checked since I've caught myself squinting at the calendar), but their topography. In the words of the cosmetics ads, those "signs of aging", "sun damage", "fine lines", wrinkles, crow's feet, plow marks on my skin.
Fine lines? What's so fine about them? When I see them, I can hear myself pushing 40. This is the age my sisters started getting gray hair. I've been obsessively combing my hair, too, checking each strand and driving my husband crazy. "This is blonde, right? Not gray?" One time he did say "It's gray", nearly causing me heart failure. Half an hour later, after hearing me say, "Is it? Really? How bad is it? How many are there? Did it just appear, or has it been like that for a while? Should I pull it out? What if there's a lot more? Should I pull them all out and risk a bald spot?", he finally admitted that he had not even looked and that he was very, very sorry and would never do it again and could we please just go to sleep now? Now I know that he cannot be trusted, and even if my head looks like it is covered in steel wool, he will swear that every strand is blonde just so he can avoid the Crazy Woman who lives inside me.
So, like any other self-respecting and mildly desperate woman, I turn to a trusted friend who has only my best interests at heart -- the cosmetics industry. My grandmother swore by Preparation H, but I am much more sophisticated than that. Creams and lotions and potions abound, all promising to reduce those fine lines and reverse that sun damage. Do they work? Excuse me while I catch my breath -- the laughter has carried me away. These lines are not going anywhere without sand blasting. Still, hope springs eternal, as does my credit card from my wallet. The promise of a "new formula" or "breakthrough treatment" sets my pulse racing. Then I shovel the new goop on my face, looking like a raccoon attacked by white-out, and I hope that the morning will find me fresh-faced and 23 again.
I've caught myself staring at models and actresses my age, seeing if they bear the same telltale eyes. I frightened my husband last night during a commercial starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Apparently, the airbrushing crew missed one of the frames. I jumped up and shouted, "There it is! There it is! HA!" My husband just could not understand my glee over someone famous (and airbrushed) having the same chicken scratch around her eyes as I do.
I notice the men, too. A huge ad for Hugh Grant's latest movie, in particular, catches my eye and its lines. If I have fine lines, Hugh has the Grand Canyon around his eyes. Does he obsess over it? Although it's been a while since Hugh and I had a heart-to-heart chat, my sense is that no, he does not. And therein lies one of the fundamental differences between men and women. If Sarah Jessica Parker happens to read this article, I'm sure she will be screaming on the phone to someone, anyone, everyone to find that frame and FIX IT NOW. Hugh will just think, "Thanks for the free publicity" and move on.
I know I would be happier if I adopted a Hugh philosophy. I know that there are much, much, much more important issues I face every day, like what are we having for supper and where is that Doughboy toy hiding now that it's bedtime and he is DESPERATELY wanted? I also know that some of the most beautiful women I know wear their lives on their faces in the marks of time left there, and it's a lovely sight.
I also wonder where I left that tube of Preparation H. After all, Grandma was a pretty sharp old bird.