A wrinkle in future plans

Hearing the dry brown corn rustling outside reminds me of my glorious career in agriculture. The career part consisted of manually removing the tassels from six out of eight rows of corn. The glorious part consisted of being promoted to crew chief which meant I had the awesome responsibility of counting the correct six rows. It was heady stuff. I come from a very small town where there is no fast food, no stores, one church, and three bars. One church to three bars seems to be about the going ratio. Anyway, one of the few jobs available to ambitious young people, and by ambitious young people I mean teenagers who are desperate for gas money, was to hire out to a local hybrid corn company to do the aforementioned de-tasseling. The job paid the munificent sum of one dollar and 86 cents per hour. That hour and every hour was spent walking up and down seemingly endless rows of corn, yanking tassels right and left. This job had many benefits. Oh, not medical or dental or a 401K. Heck, we were migrant workers who didn’t have the gumption to migrate. The benefits amounted to getting a great tan before a great tan was found to be bad for you. Sun block with SPF-anything had not yet been invented. Cellulite HAD been invented and we were savvy enough to recognize a tan improved the look of even this. The job also offered the opportunity to have minute field creatures burrow under your skin, resulting in the most appalling bumps and rashes. The bumps receded, the rashes went away, and the tan faded. What remains are the wrinkles. And, of course, the cellulite but that’s another story, no less tragic.

The sun, as a dermatologist will tell you if you can stand to wait the six months it takes to get an appointment, is terrible for you on several levels. Any exposure to the sun can cause brown spots, skin cancer, premature aging, and those darned wrinkles. The wrinkles don’t appear at the time of exposure. Like everything about a 17 year old, skin that age just rebounds effortlessly, looking glowing and wonderful and healthy. My theory is, it’s impossible to look bad when you’re 17. The feeling of invincibility begins right there at the skin and tunnels its way inward, finally ending up in the brain where it tells you it’s OK to ride around in convertibles standing up. (Author’s note: it is not.) It’s only later in life it all catches up with you. “Catches up” is a benign phrase for what really happens. In reality, all your past sins against self-preservation rush you like a great big ol’ defensive line and flatten you smack into the turf of middle age. There ought to be some sort of penalty but there’s not.

If you watch television for even twelve nanoseconds a day, you know there are approximately nine thousand skin care products on the market that promise to do away with wrinkles. Or “the appearance of wrinkles.” I’m not sure what the difference is between having wrinkles and having the appearance of wrinkles but there is stuff being manufactured to address the former by working on the latter. Sometimes wrinkles are referred to as “fine lines.” That would be great … to have fine lines instead of the crevices currently chiseling themselves into my face.

In an effort to stop or at least slow down the assault on my countenance, I have purchased 8,999 of those skin care products. I do this fully aware they will not work. This may be the very definition of an optimist. Or an idiot. Or a person with too much bathroom storage space. I use them faithfully, too. Gently applying them with the ring finger — the weakest one lest I inflict more damage in the process of putting the goo on — I wait for the “visible results in seven days.” That’s what it’s all about, right? The visible results? As Jean Kerr once remarked, “I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?”

So far I have no visible results or any other kind. I am unsure of the status of my pancreas but I’m guessing it’s still in there churning out enzymes or it would be evident by now. I’d like to stop troweling this stuff onto my face but the horrifying thought keeps cropping up…what if it really is helping? What if all this slathering actually has kept some of the wrinkles at bay? How bad would it be if I suddenly quit the slathering and just let nature take its unrelenting course? I’m not brave enough to find out and have my face start to resemble a peach pit. There is one more product out there to try and I’m certain it will do the trick.