>I just finished reading Nora Ephron’s, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Every woman of a certain age to whom I’ve mentioned the book, without even knowing what the book is about, immediately nods and says, “Oh, I know exactly what she means!” I like how she doesn’t title the book, I Don’t Like My Neck, or What the Hell Happened to My Neck? No, Ephron goes right to the guts of the matter and acknowledges the fact that women often feel downright bad about aging, as though we’ve done something dirty and wrong.
I picked up Ephron’s book after I saw her on The View talking up her new book, I Remember Nothing. While chatting with the ladies on The View, Ephron began lamenting about her elbows. She said that the only good thing about her elbows was that they faced backwards preventing her from being confronted every day with how bad her elbows were looking. She said that if her elbows faced forward then she’d be obligated to kill herself out of mortification. I’m afraid I tried this joke out in real life and it bombed, but it was hilarious when Nora Ephron, writer of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, said it.
As Ephron was talking about the sorry decline of her elbows, I looked at my own elbows with some satisfaction that mine aren’t all that bad, I mean they aren’t spectacular elbows or anything, but I certainly wouldn’t kill myself over them. But, just as I was congratulating myself on winning the Mrs. America Elbow Competition against Nora Ephron, I suddenly realized that Ephron is 20 years older than me. Big Whoop! I reign victorious in the elbow department over a nearly 70 year old woman. And while it might make me feel good for a moment to realize that my 49 year old elbows look better than Nora Ephron’s, like it or not, the writing is on the wall. Despite the fact that, as a functioning unit, my arms, and subsequently my elbows, have never let me down, someday I also will probably hate my own elbows. Furthermore, this is one of those things that rests unfairly upon the female gender. I know that my husband will never suffer from any elbow worry. His elbows will sag and age just like mine and he’s not going to do a damned thing about it. Unlike me, he isn’t going to dry brush them and slather them in moisturizer. Heck no! And he’d laugh out loud at me if I suggested that he should be concerned.
But back to our necks. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m here to tell you, kind reader, that no matter what home remedies you try, without surgery your neck and your hands will out your age.
There is a surgical technique where they can take fat from your butt and inject it into your hands to give them that plump, youthful look. But I don’t want hand-sized divots in my ass (who does?), so I would never do that. The funny thing about my hands is that when I was a little girl I wanted to have “old hands”. I loved my grandmother’s bony, veiny hands. From my childlike point of view, I thought they were beautiful and elegant, a sign of a real, grown-up woman. I remember looking at my small, pudgy child’s hands and dreaming that one day I also would have long, white, bony, veiny hands just like grandma. Some dreams do come true.
Having achieved the dream, I now slather my hands with Retin-A at night before bed and sunscreen when I wake up in an attempt to slow the aging process down. I can’t do anything about their bony, veiny appearance, but they don’t have any age spots (By the way, when did we stop calling them “liver spots”?) and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. I’m not quite willing to go to the lengths that the crazy hand model has gone to protect her hands (for one thing, I haven’t been able to find a man willing to see to it that I never use mine in any way whatsoever for anything at all), but I still try to take some care of them. And sometimes, I must admit, when I look at my hands, I see my grandmother and my mother in them and that makes me happy.
Okay, I keep getting distracted, but now we’re going to talk strictly about necks. As I’ve already sadly informed you, no home remedy will save your neck. Surgery is the only way. And while it seems simple enough to me, all I have to do is hold up the corners under my jaw line with my fingers, and, Voila!, I look 10 years younger, apparently modern surgeons can’t perform the surgical equivalent of this and you have no choice but to have an entire face lift if you want to get your neck fixed, and I’m not willing to do that either. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to stand by helplessly and watch my neck betray me right before my very eyes. Or stop looking in the mirror altogether, I suppose, and just pretend it isn’t happening.
Speaking of necks, I’ve long been wondering what is up with Demi Moore’s neck? Somewhere in a closet sits the real picture of Demi Moore’s aging, saggy neck while the neck she’s using to hold up her head while she hangs off Ashton Kutcher’s arm glistens unmarred by the passage of time. Demi Moore credits, “…highly trained medical leeches” and claims that is her secret to staying young-looking. (Okay, I’m seriously laughing here, but honest to Abe Lincoln this is what she confided to David Letterman.)
Leeches in Austria my left foot.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that Demi Moore sleeps on a special head-encasing pillow that locks her head permanently in place, and, while awake, she never turns her head. Honestly, have YOU ever seen a picture of Demi Moore looking any way but forward? No, you haven’t. Because she doesn’t. She has no creases in her neck because she hasn’t looked any way but straight forward for years. She hasn’t seen her own her toes in 15 years. She has people she pays to look at her toes for her. My neck would be pristine and unlined too if I didn’t need to move my head around. But instead of feeling proud of my ability to look at will in all three dimensions, I worry. Worry that this can only get worse. And it will. No matter what I do. It is all hopeless.
Now that I’ve encouraged you, let’s read some letters from some devoted readers.
You sure talk about aging a lot. I feel sorry for you. Do you think you’ll ever become a whole person and stop being obsessed and all like you obviously are? Do you think you’ll ever accept getting old like I have?
Oldy But a Goody.
No. First of all, I’m not aging like you, and second of all, either way, I won’t accept it. It isn’t in my nature to accept anything. I certainly didn’t accept it when my son was giving me fits, or when they told me to leave my mother in Tennessee to die. I harnessed all my wits and all my resources to the fight against these things until I was victorious, or bankrupt, or both. In my world, there simply is no Plan B. What others might lie down and take, I simply won’t. Surrender isn’t in my vocabulary (well, obviously it is, but…well, you know what I mean). I won’t accept it. I will fight, fight, fight as long as I have fight within me. I won’t accept aging without a fight anymore than I accept that George W. Bush was the best we Christians could come up with for a President.
The day I stop struggling is the day I lay down and die. And anyway, if I do stop struggling against the inevitable creeping decrepitude, I’ll just take up another battle. I’m monotonous that way.
How do you reconcile your worldly fascination with high heels and fashion with your deeply held Christian concern for the poor and downtrodden in the world?
Yours as always,
I don’t know. When I figure it out I’ll let you know. But for right now I’m going to write about the things that entertain and interest me and console myself with the fact that 1) I’m not Beth Moore (although, come to think about it, I wouldn’t mind having her wardrobe), and 2) People who make shoes and clothes need jobs, too.
P.S. Quit making me feel bad.
How have you been doing since your mom passed away?
Dear Sweet Person,
Thanks for asking. I miss my mom much more than I even imagined. She was really a brilliantly hilarious person who loved me quite completely. After a period of serious grieving (that continues to come and go) and some fresh realizations about My Mother, My Self, I’ve been doing very, very well. My husband and I are preparing for a restorative trip to Paris and London in about 5 weeks and I couldn’t be more excited.
And finally, but maybe most importantly:
Other than being fabulous, and generously sharing all your fabulous beauty secrets, and keeping us informed about the newest, most effective scientific methods for staying fabulous ourselves, do you have any other projects you’re working on these days?
Yes. The Fun Girls® are starting our own blog project together. Stay tuned. It should be as fun as we are. And we are very fun. Just ask us.