April 24, 2014

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Two faces in the mirror PDF Print E-mail

Greetings from the Ridge.
At first I thought it was arthritis. Then I suspected it was my left hip wearing down or perhaps a dash of rheumatism creeping up my spine. Whatever the cause, after decades upon decades of being young, I woke up one day and found that I was old. I thought such things were supposed to creep up on you like old underwear, not come blasting onto the reflection in your bathroom mirror on a sunny Tuesday morning.
I’m not joking. No matter what my birth certificate said, I was young simply because I felt young, then kablooey; Instant-Old. That’s when it hit me, the reason for my sudden aging: I’d joined Facebook.
Let me tell you about Margaret. She and I grew up together on the streets of Coonridge. We played hopscotch back before the entire town had sidewalks and we were obliged to scratch our numbered grid into the dust in front of Sutton’s Dry Goods store. We entered adolescence together and shared all the secrets we could invent, then when high school came we double-dated at prom. Margaret was my childhood chum and it was a sad day when she married a Sears sales representative and the couple moved to Montana. We wrote back and forth for a few years then the monthly letter dwindled into a yearly Christmas card. When she and Robert retired to Arizona she lost her address book in the move and we hadn’t corresponded in over ten years . . . until we both signed up for Facebook and found each other.
Until the moment I saw her picture I was still a girl or at least a young bride. No matter what my mirror told me, all I saw was the sweet young thing I used to be. Then I saw Margaret’s profile picture. Good Lord, that’s an old lady! And then I looked at mine. There must be a medical explanation of how looking at a picture can somehow work its way through your eyeballs, trickle down your back, and end up in you left knee, but that’s exactly what happened when I saw Margaret’s picture. I aged forty years in a single heartbeat.
Admittedly, I live in a neighborhood of mostly young folks, I help out with youth programs, and for some reason I end up in places where acne and eye makeup are still a major concern. I guess that God has just plopped me into a Garden of Youth and I assumed I was just another petunia, albeit a slightly wrinkled blossom. I had somehow fooled myself into thinking myself forty years younger than my recent CAT scan would indicate. Sure, there have been times when I’ve noticed myself giving out on hikes at summer camp, but I’ve written that off to lack of conditioning. After looking at Margaret’s picture I now know it’s simply lack of youth.
My buddy Margaret’s sags and wrinkles on my computer screen were soon followed by a host of other classmates “friending” me with snapshots of their grandchildren who I otherwise would have assumed to be my own age. Good grief! This was becoming an epidemic! What they call social media was fast becoming a medical emergency, and then I was smacked in my aging face by the obvious . . . Margaret was looking at my picture and thinking the same thing. All of these dear friends from my childhood were able to sit at our laptops and watch each other decay, frame by crumbling frame.
I managed to brush it all off as one of those things we must endure if we choose to stay alive, and it wasn’t until the next morning when the pains began. This left knee that had been my friend through ballgames, fast hikes to catch a Paris subway, and death blows to Herb’s butt when he’d put his feet up on the coffee table . . . this shoulder that had been my buddy through baling hay, painting ceilings, and slapping the cap off my husband’s head as we entered church. . . these precious parts of my physiology that had served me so well for lo these many years were suddenly conspiring to make me limp, groan, and waddle when I got out of the car. How could they do that after all I’d done for them?
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is worth $16.8 billion. Would it kill him to donate a few bucks our direction for a few bottles of Olay Anti-Wrinkle Cream? Would a case of Neutrogena dropped off on the porch of each Facebook user break him? The kid’s got a lot to answer for and if he insists on making us one great global community then he could at least make our worldwide family more presentable.
Margaret sent me a message last week wishing that we could get together. I agreed that it would be a good idea and we both knew it’d never happen. It’s hard to get a walker down the aisle of a plane.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.