Hard Used and Put Away Wet

I went to the mall today to buy picture frames on deep discount since we've developed so many photos in the last week that Kodak is going to start paying us dividends. While there I took the Gap plunge, hoping to raise my pants-to-shirts ratio since the only pants I wear with any regularity were purchased last year in Month #5 of pregnancy, and they hang off my ass in a most unflattering way that I'm constantly hiding (pretty unsuccessfully, I fear) under the hem of my shirts. I've got crack. But I'm proud to say that I'm at least painfully aware when it shows, and try to cover up as a matter of pretty pathetic propriety. (As a sidebar, why do women who are in as crappy shape as me insist on wearing hip-hugging low-riders with their big ol' love handles hangin' out? Or worse, coupling this dreadful look with the belly bearin' tiny tee? What the fuck is up with that? Just because anorexic So-and-So in Teen People wears it (and gets airbrushed to boot) it doesn't mean that you should. Please. The dignity you save may be your own.

But I digress.)

So to remedy the lack of pants, I went to the Gap with the bun, which was surprisingly delightful. Strange, since usually I want to ram searing hot pokers through the clerks and myself by the time I've tried on one or two things. But I had forgotten the joy of mirrors for tots, and boy howdy--the Gap has mirrors in spades. And they checked me into the handicapped dressing room because of my stroller (or I'd like to think it was the stroller), so we had plenty of room.

While he was trying to figure out the mystery of Mom of Duality, I was looking at myself for the first time from head to toe since I gave birth.

I'll say this: it could be a lot worse. I mean, I'm still flabby as hell, and there's some unfortunate settling of my butt which could mean bad things, but on the whole, considering that I squeezed a roasting chicken out of my body a few months ago, not too shabby.

However, in the light of a wholly different environment than my own home (where there is only one mirror which is too high for me, and no full length mirror in the whole house), I got to scrutinize myself in a way which is best left there in the Gap. Because for the first time I really got to examine how much I've aged in six short months.

I've been ridiculously fortunate in the youth-lottery. Partly due to my height, partly due to the shape of my face, I've always looked considerably younger than whatever age I was. I was even hit on (oh, the embarrassing stories) when I was 20 by a 13-year-old punk rocker named Spyder. I had the creepy misfortune of wanna-be pedophiles asking me out. I got carded up until the bun was born by just about everyone.

Those days are over. Between fatigue and irregular diet and dehydration my face has become a maze of creases and lines. I look drawn in a way that bespeaks exhaustion and hard use. There are laugh lines and fatigue lines and lines between the lines. My eyelids are purplish and drooping. It gives me a certain wizened appearance, and my vanity (oh how I hate that vanity) is taking a beating.

Perhaps I should start looking at these lines and folds as the marks of wisdom, or badges of honor like I look at the tummy pooch left over from nine months of absurd growth. They are the lines of experience, the medals of valor in the battle of life.

But who's kidding who? I look at these lines the way any brain-washed American woman would: with a sense of impending doom and a curiosity about all those expensive miracle face creams that I have successfully eschewed until now: maybe a good power-buffing scrub with ground-up salt peter and a touch of herring. Or a night cream with infusion of voodoo and turpentine.

Lucky for me, a Lush just opened here so I can pretend that I'm staving off the ravages of parenting with flower essences and good old fashioned placebo.