Don’t Look Back

I am a simple girl. Really, I don’t need much.

While I would certainly enjoy a world where North Korea voluntarily disarms, frees their people and in doing so inspires globe-wide humanitarian focus; I would be content to have a successful dress-buying experience.

I lead a streamlined life, as you can tell.

My usual routine when shopping for clothes involves multitasking: I happen to be near a TJ Maxx, Banana Republic, Gap or Loft while errand running and dash in. With either groceries in the car, twins in tow- or occasionally both, I fly through the store like an eagle stalking prey. I have been known to buy an entire outfit in less than ten minutes. The size I wear is four garments from the front of the rack and I can place my left hand on the proper size while my right hand is looking at bracelets on an adjoining table. That’s right, my hands have eyes. Shopping for a dress requires a bit more time: twenty minutes. Thirty includes try-on time, shoes and jewelry. My best time was 27:13.

I could eat browsers for breakfast. But I don’t, I’m a vegetarian.

Two days ago I had a night bursting with social functions and was in need of a dress. Of course I waited until the last minute-I only needed 30 (see previous record). I was in the city for a mammogram and would be right down the street from a favorite shopping center. Perfect: the boys were in school, it had just stopped raining so the shops were mostly empty and I had that shopping karma feeling. I hadn’t bought a fancy dress in a couple of years so I decided to surpass my usual $49.99 at TJ’s. Into Anthropologie I went. Within moments my arms were full of dresses which were helpfully swept up and placed in a dressing room by the salesgirl. She proceeded to write my name on the chalkboard plate attached to the door. “Christine, just say the word and I will help you.” I was in heaven. A room full of gorgeous dresses, no time constraints and I remembered to wear heels. This is going to be great! I was almost glib.

Never be glib in Anthropologie.

I tried on the first dress, then the remaining five. They were all lovely in a suitable age-appropriate way. On a scale from 1-10 they were all 6.5’s. I had been in the store for over 45 minutes and felt my shopping karma depart to bless someone in Ann Taylor. I was running out of time. Just then the salesgirl, watching me drag my feet back to the dressing room from the three way mirror knocked on the door saying “I saw this one and I love it, maybe it will work for tonight?” I opened the door, dress #6 partially unzipped. There is the runner’s high, the scaling Mt. Everest high, the Nobel Peace Prize high and then the Perfect Dress high. The dress slipped over my skin like butter. I sighed. Beautifully lined it was sleeveless with a fitted bodice, rounded neckline and an inverted pleat skirt. The whole dress was constructed out of black tweed with a modern orange and white watercolored stripe throughout. I flounced to the mirror and Chris (AKA the salesgirl my new BFF) zipped me up.

I smiled at my reflection. From the front: a solid 9. From the side: 9. From the back: I gasped. What the… is that back flab??Smile gone, I tried not to be ill. It’s the beginning of the end: I have back flab, I am old and now I’m going to die. I need surgery or Saran wrap. Does Anthropologie sell Saran Wrap? Maybe over with the cabinet knobs...My eyes dart everywhere. I fantasize that a corner of the store is set up as a fat-transfer station: plastic surgeons remove fat from the gravity inflicted and plump up the size zero girls…

Still looking at my reflection (but now only at the front) I give myself a pep talk: Now wait a minute, you are a successful confident woman, you’ve faced challenges that would flatten a linebacker, back-flab is not going to take you down! I change and head to the check out: More pep talking: You listen to the same music as your 17-year-old and didn’t your friend from high school just have a baby?? . I love this dress and I am going to wear it. Besides, my logic is bullet-proof: I am not old and saggy because I am young by association.

Well, I may be middle-aged and slightly saggy, but no one has to know about it.

Surgery? Saran Wrap? The answer was Spanx. All told it took 2 hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds.
That’s my new record and I’m not looking back.

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43 and Botox Free…

It’s a + 40 world.

OK, not really.  At least not if you watch TV and read magazines, which of course, I do.

According to our media culture you can be an over 4o woman but should look 28 with dewy skin and just the right amount of upper arm muscles.  I want both. This means I am both delusional and optimistic. As a peri-menopausal married woman who has undergone 2 c-sections and suffers collateral stress from fighting for the remote for 18 years,  I am Prime Beef to advertisers.  They want to sell me Retin-A and Thigh-Masters.  So far I have resisted both but only because Retin-A sounds toxic and Suzanne Somers is a nut.  Therefore I have a collection of re-usable water bottles and a subscription to Shape magazine.  The water bottles languish in the cabinet and I have a pile of back-issues with dog-eared  exercises that will give me upper arms somewhere between Michelle Obama and Madonna. In honor of Kelly Ripa’s amazing arms I purchased a fancy purple water bottle with a pop-up straw.

Today is my birthday. I have been 43 years old for exactly 16 hours, 8 minutes and I am here to tell you that when the Botox coupon came in the mail last week I saved it.  I didn’t want to.  I wanted to throw it in the trash and say, “Oh that must have been meant for the person next door!”  Recently I had dinner with one of my best friends.  We’ve known each other since we were 20 and could sunbathe with baby oil and were able to lose 5 pounds over a weekend.  By the second glass of wine we were scrutinizing each others faces and applying pressure to our foreheads “Maybe a mini-facelift” I said about myself, she said “I don’t want to wear eyeshadow anymore”  We realized we were being ridiculous and said to each other Billy Crystal- like “You look mah-velous!”

Maybe it was the wine.

I actually feel pretty good.  Much to the advertiser’s chagrin.  Since it isn’t likely I will be doing anything about gravity, it’s only practical to focus on something else. At 30 I entered a phase called “What Am I Doing With My Life?”  That lead me to read more self-help books than I can count including one for people who read too many self-help books.  At the end of a decade of introspection I realized the key to happiness was being happy with what I already had.  So, I may never have razor-cut upper arms or Elasta-Girl skin, I’ll just have to live with that.

When my twins were in  Kindergarten they learned the phrase “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Excellent advice. No needles required.