I recently wrote about how my internal editor kicks in when I’m wandering around my garden. Some of it looks grand, and some of it don’t. But I know just where to not look. I can ignore entire sites of mayhem and botanical rebellion just by skipping through to the parts that look good. It works better that way. Otherwise I will go to dark places in my mind. I will think: I see you, common vetch. I can solve your ass with a nice dose of Roundup. These are not thoughts that should take root in a liberal’s brain. It’s a gateway thought to carrying a sidearm into the hardware store.
There is too much common vetch around in general, and lemon mint, and Himalayan blackberry, and conspiracy theorists, and wanton bullshit meme-sharers, and although one is tempted to take a nuke to the whole lot of them, the wisest approach involves a lot of ignoring.
And this is the exact same approach I take with my face.
There’s nothing especially wrong with my face, although I could reel off a few dozen things. But really, it’ll do. The best approach to it, if you are the proprietor, is to fail to examine it in a mirror. On those occasions you do have to check the mirror, you can control some aspects of lighting and angles. Go in with your chin tilted up. Go oblique.
And definitely do not look in the mirror in the early morning light. Sure, it sounds romantic, but that low angle of light fails to illuminate the deeper arroyos in the mature facial structure, so that your personal topography is fully revealed as the barren canyonland it is. The theme music from The Good, the Bad, and the Oh My God floats into your head. It may seem counterintuitive, but we don’t want that slanty light on the face. We want high noon. We want sunshine in all the gullies. Catch yourself in the early morning light and you will find your upper lip pleated up like the Devil’s Tower.
I have solved this particular beauty issue by rolling out of bed several hours after sunrise.
The rest of the day it’s just a matter of not looking in the mirror at all. I find this surprisingly easy, as a person several decades past being on the make. Everything was going along great in this regard until Zoom. Last year we all found ourselves involved in Zoom meetings. If you care to, you can even brush your hair and check yourself out in a mirror and feel passably put-together from the waist up in advance of a Zoom meeting, but then there’s that moment when you’re waiting for it to begin and staring at the screen and then all of a sudden boom there’s your entire face, looking completely different from what you would ever have authorized if it was under your jurisdiction, which, technically, it is. There isn’t a mirror in your house as mean as that screen. Your first reaction is that of a four-year-old. Not me! I didn’t do it! But it is you and you totally did it, or sat around idly while it was being done at you. You immediately fart around with the camera angle and pitch some books under your laptop to raise it up but nothing’s going to solve this except tape over the camera.
I think there’s a whole thing about Zoom meetings that people who are not me have already looked into. Originally I thought it was just a matter of setting up an attractive bookcase behind yourself and possibly an objet-d’art that illustrates your quirky but lovable nature, but clearly lighting is involved too. I don’t have much of a bookcase. I don’t collect books. I am considering collecting burqas.
But then the meeting starts and my face retreats into a little bitty square at the top. It doesn’t matter that when I speak, which I am rarely prevented from doing, my face will be full-screen to everyone else. It’s still itty bitty to me. And that’s good enough. That’s good enough. If I get too much into the weeds with this stuff, I’m going to start packing heat in the hardware store while I’m picking up the Roundup. And that won’t do.