What happened? It is, I guess, the critical question of the age.
Looking in the mirror, I’m brought close to despair. When I last looked, I thought I was getting on relatively fine, all things considered. Surely I couldn’t have gone this far so quickly—or did I look seriously enough?
Until only a few years ago I still felt quite proud, not merely consoled—all things (and peers) considered. Suddenly I’m brought to the point where I seriously ask myself if I could still be redeemed, as all those advertisements promise.
One sounds attractive: no injections, let alone surgery. It’s redemption “by radio frequency.” I don’t know exactly what it is, but I presume they simply vibrate you—probably jiggle you around to even out your shape. It can’t be so bad, and it’s definitely neater than those treatments that, once they work—which, by the way, happens of their own will—send your melted fat to the nearest natural exit, and you to the nearest proper facility, which may not be near enough.
Anyway, given my desperate state, I am off-hand taken. Imagine, in approximately half an hour, I’m Dawn Zulueta?
Indeed, Dawn seems to have become the icon of redemption. I myself don’t think Dawn needs any redemption, facially or physically, but apparently she sells the idea better than anyone else, lending the most fetching face and figure to advertising lines like, “not only will it melt stubborn fat, it will tighten and smoothen wrinkly, sagging skin”; “after a few sessions, no more bulges and loose skin”; and, the ultimate come-on, “it’s risk-free.”
Alas, they are silent about two of my greatest concerns: cost and pain. Even at the 50 percent discount offered, it could still be beyond what I can afford—50 percent of what?
And, as for threshold of pain, I have none. I’m the ultimate coward: I can feel pain by mere anticipation. No beauty treatment to me is worth any pain.
All those expensive and painful possibilities, meanwhile, have put me back on a diet and sent me back to the gym. An immediate compelling reason is another wedding, that of a niece of my husband. He is ninong, and I have been warned that I would be sitting conspicuously with him at the main table in the suggested Bordeaux-red long gown.
At first chance I call my couturier, an always busy one, a specialist in dealing with challenging figures. For a once-in-a-blue-moon customer like me, though one for more than 50 years and, I’d like to think, a dear friend, surely she can be softened with begging.
Our driver being new and requiring directions, and I myself impossible with those things, my husband, Vergel, has to come along. My couturier begins to dictate my measurements to an assistant who takes them down.
My new numbers are shocking. Distracted from the magazine he has been reading and overhearing the dictation, Vergel thinks my couturier is dressing a main piece of furniture. We all have a good laugh, but I am soon to come to better sense: I need redemption.
Well, it’s a bit late for the wedding, and I’m more consistently concerned really about my skin and remaining hair, so I see my dermatologist friend. My records take time to dig up—after all, it’s been a while.
My friend looks at my face and immediately orders a “micro-dermabrasion,” which I had nearly five years ago, on my last visit. An assistant, a younger doctor, wipes cool liquid all over my face as I lie there eyes closed, lips tucked. Before I can feel the full sting, she preempts it with a cold damp cloth. The treatment does prompt wonders, but I’m given maintenance solutions and creams with directions.
A skin rash on my leg gets the next attention. No mere allergy, I’m told, but something that comes—and here it comes again—with aging. It has a horrible-sounding name, which I automatically forget. To console me, my doctor shows me pictures, just as horrible-looking, of how bad it could have been. She tells me my case can be remedied easily by keeping my whole body moisturized after a bath.
Back home, dealing with it as instructed, I bend over forward to apply some medical cream to it, and notice my toenails needing trimming. But the more revealing observation is, I now struggle to reach them—something up the middle is getting in the way.
Looking for my old vital statistics, I realize, is not unlike wondering where the little girl in my daughter has gone: They’re all gone, irretrievably, irredeemably. My daughter has grown up—grown up, in fact, well into middle age herself—and I, grown well into seniority, a state beyond (thank God) the physical.
If anything may be happily gained from my own growth, it is that there’s now more and more of me to love, and Vergel seems suitably brainwashed.