Saturday, May 9, 2015
"Librarian of Congress" copyright 2004
Lately, I've noticed that women who are my contemporaries look a lot younger than I. My jiggly bits are sagging. By next year, my breasts will be even with my elbows. I could do something surgical, but who am I kidding. My father repeatedly told me when I was a teenager that "Beauty is as Beauty does." I still don't know what that means, but I assume since I was applying makeup when he said it, he was referring to my weight. I only wish I was now as fat as I was when he thought I was fat.
My mother, Virginia Packard, was blessed with strong cheekbones, a lithe body and a wicked sense of fashion. I, on the other hand, am saddled with thin lips and a thick body. My sense of fashion is relatively good (I read Vogue, watch Project Runway etc) but tend to wear whatever fits. My husband once believed the adage that a man should look his mother-in-law for a preview of his wife's future. Who was I to dissuade him?
I watched a documentary about face lifts years ago. The surgeon put his hand between the skin and the deep fascia to remove the tissue sheath. I've done the same a hundred times, clearing the membrane of a whole chicken to add herbs. The documentary was enough to put me off surgery and roasted chicken.
My mother had a face lift when she was 58. My parents rented out their home in New Canaan every summer. One year, my mother's face lift coincided with an open house. I came home with my fiancé to visit her. My father had stuck my mother in the smallest room of the house so as to not frighten potential tenants. I thought him a cad. Until I saw her. She looked nothing like my mother but an enormous blue and black Kabuki mask, tottering on narrow shoulders.
Two weeks later, still swollen with the blue fading to yellow and purple, my mother gamely went to the Yale Club in New York City to meet my fiancé's parents for the first time. I've never admired her more.