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THE FACE IN THE MIRROR

IN DEFENSE OF BIRQAS

By Lynn Ruth Miller

A woman’s face is her work of fiction.

Oscar Wilde

 

I have reached the age when looking in the mirror has become a nightmare.  Either I see my mother or a woman who looks ready for a plot.  If the night before has been particularly grueling, I don’t see much at all. 

 

I find that it takes a lot of work these days to get my face ready for public viewing.  I am not talking about going to a formal dance or meeting a dignitary.  I am saying that before I dare leave the house, I have a time consuming, discouraging and ego damaging routine I must follow before I dare greet the outside world. 

 

As soon as I wake up, I drink 12 ounces of warm water to hydrate my skin.  I use a special facial sponge to wipe the sleep from my eyes and remove the rivulets of sand that have lodged in the wrinkles on my face and dripped down the folds of my neck.

 

I haul out a magnifying mirror and work on the white heads, uneven bumps and enlarged pores that spring up as if by magic during the night. Then I address the lush new growth of hair in my lip, my chin and hanging from my nostrils.

 

I apply a light moisturizing lotion to try to plump up the sagging pouches around my eyes and under my chin.  I pat the skin dry and hope those gaping pores close.

 

They don’t. 

 

I apply a mild sun screen to the entire region of flesh above my collar bone.  It is impossible to separate my jawbone from my clavicle.  They have coagulated into a soft mass of unidentifiable epidermis. I have not seen my neck in fifteen years.   I slather on moisturizer and hope it sinks into all the right places. 

 

It doesn’t. 

 

My skin has developed so many colors that I cannot decide if it is a plaid or a print. Both peaches and cream are but a memory.  I apply a foundation that is the color of what it once was when it glowed with the blush of youth.  This was so many years ago that I am not sure I have chosen the right shade.  The one I am using is a tad darker than bleached cotton but not so dark that I look like an immigrant. 

 

It is now time to do my eyes.  The first challenge is locating them.  They are wedged between the folds of my eyelids and the puffed gray pillows around what is left of my eyelashes.  I rub a bit of oil on the lids and then a tad of eye shadow to match my outfit.    I need to be careful because if I am wearing a vivid combination of color, my eyes will look like Bozo’s. 

 

I am now ready for THE BIG CHALLENGE.  I must use a pencil and draw a line right above my eye lashes and directly under my eye.  This can take anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours depending on how many times I jam the pencil into my cornea or dislodge my contact lens. 

 

Each morning my cheeks sag a few inches closer to my collar bone. I need to redefine them with rouge.  The trick is to add just enough tint so I don’t look dead. 

 

I look in the mirror to see if there has been any improvement.

 

There hasn’t.

 

I so envy the women of the Middle East.  They wake, drape themselves in a burqa and go out on the town.  Oh, I know they are subservient and need to shut up and take it.  But the truth is that with a face like mine, no one is going to want to give it to me anyway unless I cover it up.  There is a huge advantage to draping yourself in a filmy bit of fabric and leaving your appearance to the imagination.  I could probably pass for a real looker unless it’s a windy day. 

While you’re saving your face;

You’re losing your ass.

Lyndon Johnson