Category Archives: body image

I’m Ready for My Close Up, Mr. El Paso

It’s all about the lighting.

Good lighting can make even the intolerable desirable. Take my lunch, for instance. Leftover burrito* with carrots and chips- monochromatic, tepid and mushy, should be disgusting. But scroll below** to see what two-o’clock afternoon sun in the northern hemisphere can do. See how the salsa glistens? Delicious, right? Can’t wait to dig in.

Yes, I’m going to parallel this to dating. It’s what I do.

Take that mediocre guy from accounting. As he walks down the alley of cubicles and turns the corner toward reception, you see him eclipse the morning sun as it streams through the window. In his silhouette, you see no pocket protector, no black smear where the pocket protector failed. You don’t see the worn, shiny ass of his Dockers, nor the bit of jelly on the back of his left hand. No, what you see is the dark shape of a man, sun glistening around his tall, narrow form, and your mind wanders…

Then there is that lackluster friend of your sister’s. And here he is, at the family picnic once again, another valiant effort by your sister to orchestrate a Certs encounter between the two of you. And this time, it might just work. The sun is setting, the men are wrapping up their game of touch football, and as your man draws back his arm in what will surely be another botched pass, the setting sun breaks through the clouds, and he is haloed by brilliant rays of gold, azure, and ruby red. Your mind wanders…

And, let’s jump in the time machine for a bit, back to those days of our youth. Was it not lighting, pure and simple, that drove us to make our decisions vis a vis romance? Prom, with its strobe light flashing; roller rink and its laser show; the dusky bar illuminated by nothing more than the neon glow of the Budweiser and Jose Curevo signs. Your mind wanders more than it already was wandering, what with the beer and tequila and all. Yes, it was lighting that made the good look better and the better look great. Never underestimate the lighting.

‘* Yes, I eat leftover burritos every Saturday. I have dinner at Tacqueria Pablano in Arlington every Thursday night, and leftovers are pre-planned frugality.

‘**I put the pictures at the bottom so you can read the good stuff without having to scroll down down down past dozens of glamor shots of food before you get to anything interesting. I hate when they do that.

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arachnid facial infestation

A spider has laid eggs in the side of my face.
The turgid mass has grown so large that surely, at any moment, it will burst and spew forth dozens of arachnid progeny. I am certain of this.

The lump is definitely not a massive zit that I have manhandled to the point where the resultant purple and yellow bruise is scaring small children.

No. A spider has laid eggs in the side of my face. I am certain of this.

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Writing Group Angst

Let’s say you’re in a hotel conference room, attending your very first meeting of the Low Country Writers’ Group (Mount Pleasant Chapter). It’s a panel talk on “Getting Closer to Getting Published.” While you wait for the guest speakers to arrive, you look back through the notebook you’ve brought with you – the one you always bring to things like this – and, becoming aware of wetness under your arms and realizing how appallingly ineffective your new deodorant is, you see that the two-word notes you’ve been leaving for yourself, snippets of story ideas jotted down in your almost illegible shorthand, meant to inspire future writing, are utterly worthless. “Cherry Pie = Pizza Pie”, “Baby, not Piano”, “Aqua Velva and Farts.” Seriously? You can’t even be sure if those are references to personal experiences or things you saw on late night comedy shows. Who knows.

The moderator cheerfully kicks off the opening ice breaker: “Tell us your name and what you’re working on,” she says. You take a quick look around the room. In so doing, you identify a group of thirty-two people, of which you are in a minority, the minority comprised of three attendees under the age of 50. As the introductions go around the table you meet a woman with three books published, another woman who is trying to decide which agent she wants to go with, and a man – one of the men in your under-50 group – who has a PhD and teaches creative writing at the College of Charleston. You think of what you will tell these people when it is your turn to speak. You have about twenty-five short stories in various stages of completion. Your mother says they’re really good, always adding, “… and I’m not just saying that because you’re my daughter.” Head down, you smell a funk waft up from your armpits as evidence of your deodorant’s epic fail. You look up to tally the people who will talk before you have to, and this glance reveals you to be in another minority, a minority of one: those who are grossly overdressed. And, although your mother has always said that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed, you begin to formulate the rebuttal you will give to any of the shorts and flip-flop clad strangers when they ask why you are wearing a floral wrap dress and heels – you will tell them you are on your way to a baby shower, a wedding, a bris… something important, something adult, anything that might lend credibility to you – the most uncomfortable person in the room.

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Spa Day

pedicure

Angry asian rat

Gnashing teeth

Attacks my tender nubs

Razor edge

Snapping jaw

Sandpaper

Until all’s that left are stubs

facial

Wrap me in a warm rag

My face feels like a teabag

Moist happy mummy

massage

Let’s not talk

We only have an hour

Push pull moan groan

Pressure points

You knew I’d like the lemongrass

But c’mon, now,

We both know it’s not loveall is well

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Mr Bubble, Boiled

“Why don’t you go home and relax. Take a nice, hot bath?”

“Yeah, no, I can’t take baths.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I can’t take baths. Fifteen years ago I did, I stuffed my hair up in a shower cap, got the Mr. Bubble going, slid in there with a paperback novel… I like the water really hot, you know? Hot. So, after a little while my glasses were streamed up and I was sweating like a pig and the book was getting all soggy so I got out. I put the book on the vanity, pulled off the shower cap and was toweling off when I must have passed out or something – when I woke up I was on the floor and I was all red and puffy.”

“That sounds awful!”

“Yeah. I’m pretty sure I poached myself.”jenny fish

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Just Kill The Old Bird

I wonder if, when I am seventy, I wonder if I will be standing at the cashier’s counter of the Wild Bird Store, discussing with Agnes in great detail the benefits of hulled over non-hulled safflower seed vis-à-vis its desirability to the North American Carolina Wren, I wonder if there will be a forty-year-old woman standing behind me, struggling to hold a twenty pound bag of sunflower seed in her arms, and if that woman will be trying to decide if she should smile or if she should not smile when she spins that bag around like an Olympian shot-putter and launches it at my balding, blue-haired head.jenny bird seed

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Crest Fallen

Okay, Proctor and Gamble, I’ve used your “Crest 3D White Luxe” toothpaste in Glamorous White (with Whitelock Technology) three times a day for the last five days and I don’t see any indication that it has “removed up to 90% of surface stains” as advertised.

I went on a couple of vacations last year, one to visit my friend Bridget in The ‘Lu (which, she tells me, is what everyone who is anyone is calling St Louis these days), and then one with my friend Susan to Princess Island (which is what we call anywhere we go on vacation together). These trips both produced copious photographs, all of which were posted to Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, and Flikr. Many people saw these photos, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of ‘likes’ received (an 85/15 split between friends of theirs and friends of mine).

The photos are nice. They’re black and whites, which are always lovely. In every single shot the sun is bright, I’m having good hair days, and Bridget/Susan and I are smiling widely. However. Bridget/Susan’s face is aglow with the shimmer of their clean white teeth, but not mine. My face, sparing the part of my eyeball that isn’t iris or pupil, is all the same color – except for the darker gray slash between my lips. That’s my teeth. To their credit, my teeth are admirably straight. I wore braces and headgear for five years to earn that honor.

Curious, I waited until I was home alone one evening, looked in my bathroom mirror and grinned at myself. There they were, side by side like little soldiers, perfectly aligned and decidedly yellow teeth. More yellow on the sides than on the front. You know, yellow isn’t quite right. Staring at my teeth, the first thing that came to mind was the weathered, fading slats of plywood that Ben used to build the fence around my tomato garden last summer. Functional, yes. Appealing? No.

Hence, my need for the Crest. I read your label, I felt hope, I brushed three times a day for five days. Nothing. Of course I can go see my dentist for laser whitening, but that’s not the point. You let me down. In addition to being out $6.49, I’m really disappointed. I was counting on y’all.toothpaste

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