Women's magazines are always plastered with cover lines about wrinkles and fine lines, but I don't have a single friend who has ever mentioned them as a concern. And believe me, as a 50-year-old, with a wide circle of friends who share every secret, I would have heard. It must be 25-year-old models buying all that expensive skin cream. Personally, wrinkles are about 12,000th on my list of concerns when it comes to aging. My friends and I spend much more time comparing our flabby arms and hair. It is not just the gray, that seems to grow back no matter how often we color, it is the dryness and coarseness that develops over time. I regularly use four hair conditioners a week, and still turn into a frizzball at the first sign of rain, which is a new development. In a picture from a friend's 50th birthday party one damp afternoon, a group of us looked like we should be stirring a witch's cauldron, not a cup of tea.
Everyone has their own anxieties about aging. On Sex in the City, Miranda feared that she would choke to death in her apartment and be eaten by her cat before anyone finds her. Apparently a lot of women fear that they will end up homeless and alone. Me? I'm not that deep, but what scares me the most are the hairs, growths, cysts, wens and bumps that seem to come with menopause. It is gross enough that these things seem to spontaneously grow on the faces of others (so far), but I have to wonder: at what point does one just give up and let these newfound growths be? You must have seen them too -- those women in the supermarket with the enormous protuberances next to their eyebrows. I would much rather sport a few delicate lines or a character bestowing wrinkle.
I think my fear is not that I will grow one of these things, because honestly, I am not that fussy about my looks, but that having one on your face is an announcement to the world that you are no longer young. First you stop dying your hair, then comes the sensible shoes and comfy jeans, and then the next thing you know, you have a cyst the size of Nebraska on your face and you are eating dinner at 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. Alone. Except maybe for your cat, who is no doubt eying you as you eat, thinking how tasty a morsel your growth would be.
It is so easy to slide into becoming a crone. The things that I never would have done 20 years ago, I do all the time now. I don't always bother to shave my legs. I sometimes wear my glasses instead of my contacts. And yes, I am guilty of wearing comfy shoes and mommy jeans. I have even, on occasion, worn an overcoat over my pajamas. But the sprouting mole? Not yet.