There are two doors to our downstairs toilet–possibly a design flaw–and if I don’t make a point of shutting them all the way, I can count on my cat Tater to bump open the first door with her nose, glance at me, execute a graceful arabesque, and then stroll out the second door, leaving me open to the breezes. Her motivations are selfless: she is giving me an opportunity to admire her.
Which is admirable in itself, inasmuch as a lot of folks believe she has let herself go. It’s emotionally healthy. I could learn from her. But I haven’t felt real admirable in a while, thanks to a brisk and efficient visit from menopause. What’s that, junior? Oh menopause is just a little heads-up. It’s the universe’s way of saying brace yourself, sugar bun, there’s a bunch of stuff coming up for you to worry about, but at least you don’t have to worry about being pretty anymore.
So I don’t waste a ton of time worrying about my looks, but it does occur to me on a nightly basis that I’m going to look like shit, dead. Assuming I’ll die in my sleep (in a way other people will refer to as “peaceful,” not knowing the terrifying content of my last dream), I have a pretty good idea what my survivors are going to see. Because as I drift in and out of sleep, I have become aware that my face and body, in their most relaxed state, assume an arrangement best described as “puddling up.” Sometimes when I roll over, I have to pick parts of myself up and rearrange them on the mattress so I don’t get a crease. It ain’t sexy.
“She looks so peaceful,” they’ll say. Then they’ll give in to curiosity and lean in, squinting.
“What IS that?”
“Huh. Oh, that’s her lips.”
“No, that. Over on the side of the pillow.”
“Yeah, that’s her lips. See? They’re sprawled out on the edge of her left cheek, there.”
“Man! I thought that was an old taco or something. What’re her lips doing so far away from the rest of her face?”
“Looking for the cool spot, maybe?”
“And shouldn’t there be breasts of some sort?”
“Sure. See [pointing]–that’s one right there, sort of wedged underneath the armpit. You can tell if you follow it out from the chest. The other one has to be around here somewhere too. Turn the light on.”
“Got it! It’s hanging off the edge of the mattress. We should put these back.”
“How we gonna do that?”
“I dunno. Fold ’em on a 45 and roll ’em down the front like shirt-sleeves?”
“Sure. What’s all the rest of this stuff? All along the sides?”
“Huh. Now that we got the light on it, it looks like it’s just the rest of her skin. It done come unmoored, somehow. Like frosting that didn’t set up.”
“Right? Aww. She looks like a big flying squirrel.”
“A-dorable! Well, we should probably call the coroner or something, see if they can get this all scooped up.”
All right, y’all. First one on the scene, have fun, but I’d be much obliged if you could get me resheveled and spruced up proper for company. Take all the time you want. I’ll leave a couple spatulas and some duct tape and putty on the nightstand, and there’s beer in the fridge.
I've been through menopause, and although there are things I don't like about it (sex drive? What sex drive?), there are also upsides (my skin has finally cleared up!) It's true that when one gets older, one can't be "pretty" anymore, but one can always be chic. Chic is better. It connotes power. Pretty connotes vacuousness.
Except I don't seem to be able to be chic either. I probably need someone to dress me.
I like "interesting".
Great, now I have one more thing to worry about. I have to contract with a make-up artist for my day.
There's probably a limit to how spiffy you can get at that point, though.
The medical student who carves me up likely won't be interested in my appearance, as long as all the parts are there somewhere.
I'm with you on that. I hope it's a cute medical student.
I love your humor. Today's offering was terrific & made me laugh so hard. Right on target! The best is yet to come. I've reach the ripe age of seventy-seven. This past year has been full of wonder. Ha! Ha! Thanks for sharing.
I'm 82; the best is NOT yet to come!!
May I say these two comments put together MADE MY DAY?
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My phrase "The best is yet to come." was meant to be sarcastic. I can still enjoy the laughs Murr Brewster illicits from me with her takes on aging.
Oh, but I so hoped you weren't being sarcastic! After all–the best IS yet to come, until it isn't. Thanks for commenting!
I'm going to be 80 on my next. Looks like your fan base is senior oriented: 🙂
I was just beginning to come to that conclusion myself. It shows in the civility too!
Menopause. Because becoming invisible gives us such freedom!
This is a fack. However I would take exception to the notion that YOU are in any way invisible, gorgeous.
I am liking being invisible and wish that mirrors also played the game. I may need to beome a vampire. Badly placed mirrors in shops and the like have scared me more than once.
There are some dressing rooms that really discourage purchases. Why? Why?
Just don'r move to NYC – all those Frank Gehry glass-clad buildings. The plate glass store front of the old Woolworths is bad enough, thank you.
First time I ever saw my own neck wobble, it was in a reflection, and I didn't realize it was me at first. Then I tightened everything up and told myself it hadn't happened.
72 here, and while it's not all roses and the pretty boat has long ago sailed, it turns out that the people who love me think I look just right, the people who like me think I'm me and other people don't particularly notice me and so don't care. I've got loads of time, my grandkids think I'm wonderful, I've got a new direction doing art, and I'm really, really happy. I AM having a good life. And the puddling–I don't look. Works fine. And I think you're fabulous. And BTW, reading your work makes me more attractive–because a smiling face is always more attractive.
That there is a very nice thing to say. Thanks.
Well, I kind of like the way I look . . . Without my glasses.
Lady who cuts my hair makes me take my glasses off and then afterwards she tries to show me the back with a hand mirror. I just stare at her until she retrieves my glasses.
The last-breath lily you're clutching makes all the difference — a festive garnish salvaging a plate of soggy grey hors d'oeuvres (nothing personal). Presentation is everything. I plan to die with my eyes frozen open, so that everyone will be too creeped out to examine me too carefully. Just hit menopause at 58. Zero to 100, as in years old, in the blink of an eye (not yet frozen open). Just discovered your blog, which helps 🙂
I myself am soggy grey hors d'oeurvres. All nuance is lost in the ether — I was trying to be cute. Mother told me I wasn't cute, and that I should never go there.
Oh, I think you should definitely go there. And now I'm thinking presentation. Sequins? Frosting with jimmies? A side of rhubarb?
You just made my week!
I do like an easy sell.
Other than a problem with your right eyelid, you look just fine.
And that could happen to anybody.
By the time I made it to "fold em on a 45" I had to stop and wipe away the tears (of laughter). This is all too familiar.
At least we Murr readers are having fun while we're sliding downhill!
Swear to God on hot days I just want to drape them over a roll of toilet paper to get them away from my chest.
I got a real good laugh out of this, thank you. I do similar things. Roll over, scoop the boob out from under the armpit, lay it neatly, scoop the belly to a more comfortable spot, go back to sleep.
Sometimes when I can't sleep I scoop a boob and lay it out carefully just to see how long it can get.
all the other comments are as funny as the post 🙂
We gots good people here.
At the risk of sounding indelicate….any time a woman your age (our age) has perky, plump, milk-maid breasts that seem to naturally spill out of her neckline….I have to ask myself how much she paid for them. So in the words of John Lennon, "Let it be, let it be…"
I find the whole business fascinating, if a little inconvenient and sweaty at times. Sometimes I just look at myself naked and think: well ain't that just a piece of work. What's it going to do next?
BTW, I loved this one. Your writing sometimes lifts my spirits, when nothing else does. I am so glad we have known each other all these years.
Almost as many years as I've known anybody!
I would hesitate to tell you about all the old man things that are happening to me, but I know it would be good for laughs. Gravity is a conspiracy.
So, how's it hangin'?
Sometimes I look at really old people (figuring I am going there too, if I make it another 15 or 20 years) and I wonder if their somewhat unsightly decrepitude prior to leaving the planet is analogous to the way teenagers develop acne, sarcasm, body odor, rudeness and general incivility, so as to make it easier for us to let them go when the time comes.
That is a very good observation. I salute you.
I literally laughed out loud at this. I very much relate.
OMG,SO glad I saw your Oregonian Opinion letter (pumping gas). Now I know where to go for hysterically funny stuff! Thank you!
Hi! Yes, you do, and thank you!
I am so glad we have known each other all these years.