On weekdays, on work days, there’s no time for analysis. I pay the minimum attention to required to make myself presentable. The routine from shower to shoes on takes 45 minutes. On weekends, I take my time. And that means, not just the treat and satisfaction of a little more pampering and preening than usual, but the horror and anxiety of having the time to notice things about my body I wish I hadn’t…
My face wash ran out a week ago and I coaxed (hammered) the last of my moisturiser out of the pump action bottle a few days after that. Since then, my beauty regime (I mean, to be fair, it’s hardly much of regime even with supplies), has been reduced to slathering soap all over my face in the shower then patting the leftovers of a tin of thick, gloopy Nivea cream on my cheeks before hurriedly sticking spongefuls of pressed powder on to the shiniest, greasiest bits. In the day my skin is punishing me by sucking all my make-up down into the grooves of my chin. In the night it’s pushing little pimples up through my jawline in all the places I can’t see properly or reach without physical aids. I haul the bathroom mirror into daylight to assess just how bad things are. I prod, I poke and I promise to just go to fucking Boots and replenish the contents of the toiletry cabinet. I spend far too long looking at myself up close.
I look at my eyebrows.
Will you just look at the state of these eyebrows. How will I ever fix these eyebrows? How? I need an eyebrow transplant. Years and years of over-plucking (over-plucking, incidentally, that was sparked by someone I didn’t even like taking the piss out of my big bushy brows when I was 17) have left these poor, limping caterpillars skinny and balding. Following decades of abuse and suffering, they are patchy and puny and mismatched. Worse still, the eyebrow pencil I bought to try help fill in the gaps is the wrong shade and in certain light it looks like my head is rusting. But really. Can people have eyebrow transplants?
I look at my beard.
While I have the tweezers in my hand I may as well check on that weird… Oh my GOD. “Does electrolysis last forever?” I scream to Garry in the next room, horrified. “What?” he says, poking his head round the door frame. “Electrolysis. Does it last forever?” I say through the hand beard I’ve made to cover the actual beard I’ve just found prickling out of my face. Garry looks at me funny and without uttering a word, goes back in to the living room to watch Spongebob Squarepants.
I pluck out one thick, jaggy black hair from my chin. Then another. And another. I turn a little to the right and the sun catches a silver grey one that’s jutting out at a 90 degree angle. To me, those three hairs, coupled with the moustache I’ve been cultivating since I was 25, definitely constitute the beginnings of a full beard. I don’t know how all this ageing business works, but it seems there must come a point between the ages of 35 and 75 when these pesky blighters multiply and you start wearing polo necks, tucking the bottom of your face into its folds, to try hide the hairy. Then there’s likely a point, probably once you’ve developed some terrible muscular disorder in your neck from walking round with your chin bent down the inside of the head hole of your clothes, when you just stop giving a shit about them or – maybe your arthritic hands can no longer handle a razor as masterfully as they used to. Then you’ve no choice but to sit there in your old age and watch your beard grow. My god. Now I feel truly awful for laughing at my Great Aunty Sadie. I puff up the little patches of face fuzz at either side of my lips, disgusted.
I look at my teeth.
The snarl I give myself in the mirror exposes them. If I could, (if I could painlessly and for free, that is), I’d have someone pull every last one of them out of my head and replace them with better spaced, whiter, healthier versions of themselves. Hell, take the damn gums too! I’m pretty sure I could be doing with a gum upgrade. I don’t know what bothers me most. Is it that with every year, my teeth literally are getting longer? Like I’m a horse? Is it that my teeth are seemingly just reshuffling themselves around my mouth, willy-nilly, creating new gumsie gaps in the front row and ruining what used to be a fairly decent smile? Is it… is it that despite never drinking coffee, rarely drinking red wine and being fairly sensitive to the harm smoking has on my appearance, that my teeth have forever been yellow? Even when I was a smoke-free teen my teeth had yellowed, as someone very kindly pointed out at school – in front of a whole bunch of my classmates. “Oh, you don’t smoke? I presumed you must have started when you were about 12 to have teeth as yellow as that!” Maybe I ate too many foam bananas when I was little. Maybe drank too much Nesquik… How irritating that after all the effort my mother went to to make sure my teeth didn’t actually ever fall out from rubbing them too much with fizzy drinks or sugary foods, her hard work didn’t extend to keeping these damn teeth looking nice. Pearly whites my arse. Oh and then there’s that little clump of teeth on the top right of my mouth – the ones that peep out when I smile particularly widely (I don’t do this very often on account of the fright I might give onlookers). I shan’t go in to too much detail, but essentially, they make me look like I’m wearing witchy Halloween make-up. If you want me to scare your kids/pets/enemies, I can. Easily.
I look at the crumpled bit of flesh down the right side of my body.
I probably shouldn’t talk about the crumpled bit of flesh right now. We can cover this some other time. Perhaps then I can also pose other questions like, ‘Why has the curve of my spine exaggerated beyond recognition over the last decade?’ and ‘Are these lumps on my right leg the first sign of some kind of thrombosis?’ or ‘If the bones in my feet continue to reconfigure themselves into triangular formations, will I need to wear triangular shoes? And does Kurt Geiger make those?’
Please tell me you notice weird stuff too. You notice weird stuff too, right?