Can’t stop the cal­en­dar

The Covington News - - Opinion - Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics.

It’s Au­gust, as you’ve no­ticed, and there are a cou­ple of birth­days at our house, mine and our Bor­der col­lie Sonny who’ll be five years old (35 in dog years) on Aug. 17. It’s not nec­es­sary for the pur­pose of this col­umn to divulge my age, but I’ve got plenty of high school class­mates in town who will. I’m not at the point yet when I want to stop ac­knowl­edg­ing birth­days, but many peo­ple, and I know some, ul­ti­mately reach that con­clu­sion. I re­spect their de­ci­sion and may do the same one day, but there’s no deny­ing the cal­en­dar whose months roll over re­lent­lessly. The col­lec­tive “we” progress through decades when in our youth we eagerly an­tic­i­pate the ap­proach of rev­elry and gifts, fol­lowed by decades when we’d just as soon look the other way. In a sense, that makes us a bit like the Ro­man god Janus look­ing back­ward and for­ward at the same time.

Birth­days and New Year’s Eves are sim­i­lar to my way of think­ing. Gen­er­ally, they are times for merry-mak­ing, but I pre­fer to see them as times to as­sess what has tran­spired in the year gone by and make ready for the com­ing 12-month pe­riod, to make some as­sess­ments, to mark per­sonal growth and to re­solve not to make the same mis­takes twice. They are times to hold a mir­ror to my face and have a frank con­ver­sa­tion with the per­son look­ing back at me.

Oh, but that mir­ror is not al­ways kind. He doesn’t al­ways turn out to be the kind of “friend” you want to keep and nur­ture, some­one who’ll point out your good points and min­i­mize your faults. In­stead, there’s a mo­ment dur­ing one of these frank “con­ver­sa­tions” when I’d just as soon see this fair-weather friend fly­ing through the near­est win­dow. Or per­haps smashed to smithereens on the bath­room floor.

An­other colum­nist for this pa­per sug­gested some weeks ago that peo­ple were prob­a­bly hap­pier and more sat­is­fied with them­selves in the times be­fore mir­rors were ever in­vented. Then, he said, you’d never notice the sag­ging belly or the thin­ning hair or the yel­low­ing teeth. I made the mis­take re­cently of pick­ing up a mag­ni­fy­ing mir­ror to pour over my com­plex­ion as I tried out a new foun­da­tion in a win­dow­less depart­ment store lit by flu­o­res­cent lighting that’s never for­giv­ing to one’s mien. It was all I could do to re­main calm and not run scream­ing to the car. The store might sell more if it made its cus­tomers look bet­ter than the truth.

My driver’s li­cense was up for re­newal this month, and for­tu­nately the long lines and con­fu­sion that reigned with the im­po­si­tion of new rules and re­quire­ments had passed by the time I showed up to the DDS. I had taken great pains with my hair that day. I had the bangs ar­ranged just so and sprayed into tor­nado-proof im­mov­abil­ity. I placed my blusher high on my cheek­bones to de-em­pha­size the lessthan-taut rest of my face. I chose a pink jacket, pink be­ing one of my best col­ors, and turned the col­lar up jaun­tily to ef­fect the ap­pear­ance of a longer, more el­e­gant neck than I have. Ev­ery­thing was prop­erly in place when the desk per­son told me to back up and look at the blue dot on the cam­era. I smiled slightly, some­what enig­mat­i­cally, and didn’t blink my eyes. This would be the year I ban­ished the curse of the driver’s li­cense photo.

When he handed me the pa­per copy of the new li­cense that would come by mail shortly, it was an­other mo­ment when I wanted to run scream­ing to the car. I looked like some wan, gray-haired not blond (for which I pay dearly) woman-of-acer­tain age that had left home not wear­ing any makeup. My best ef­forts had failed, and I’ll have to live with the photo for an­other five years. I pray never to be stopped for a traf­fic in­frac­tion when I’d have to re­veal my iden­tity to some young, much younger, buzz-cut of­fi­cer. It would be em­bar­rass­ing to me and fright­en­ing to him.

This month, there’s also the an­nual visit to the doc­tor’s of­fice. I al­ready dread it, not be­cause I sus­pect any­thing’s amiss, but be­cause I’ll have to step onto the heinous scales. Your own bath­room scales may tell an ac­cept­able story, even a few tri­umphs over the temp­ta­tion of cheese­cake, but pre­pare for a slap in the face when you step on those scales. Doc­tor scales are no friend to any­one be­cause, I firmly be­lieve, they are cal­i­brated to add a few pounds or more to any­one’s weight. It’s an evil plot meant to un­nerve you and un­der­mine your best ef­forts. So tell me, just where can a girl get a break these days?

BAR­BARA MOR­GAN

COLUM­NIST

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