Yesterday after work I had to go to Target to pick up a few things because it’s mid-week and thought I’d make my weekly Target or Walmart run to distract myself from my new rowing machine which is intent on killing me (I’m going to call my rowing machine Cilantro because I hate cilantro.). But I know I need to use it and I am, but I will not let cilantro defeat me! In any case, I’m wandering around Target picking up Ziploc bags, hair color and a bag of pretzels I absolutely have to have. Then I make my way to the makeup section where as I’m perusing through all the ageless, age defying, wrinkle preventing “magical” makeup I see an older woman standing there with her reading glasses on, white hair quaffed into a perfect (I mean perfect) bun, seemingly flawless make up and dressed impeccably. So for me this seems a bit weird, as it’s 5:45pm and those of us that are at the Target this time of day are in shorts, yoga pants or in my case my go to jeans and my University of Michigan t-shirt (reminder, need a new Michigan t-shirt).
I walk past her and I can smell Channel No. 5 on her which to me is an overpowering scent. I remember my mom’s friend saying only “Rich white women wear to intimidate.” And what she meant by ‘intimidate” is that it stunk to high hell. This scent is definitely only for people who really love it because I have to agree it’s a powerful smell. Anyway as I passed her she turns to me and says “Hi darlin’ can you help me here?” and I turned and responded “of course how can I help?”
She held up a small vial of some miracle serum for anti-whatever and said to me “I can’t make out the small print, can you see it, what does it say?” She held up her hand, and I saw a beautiful pearl bracelet with a pink gem clasp. Her nails were perfect and as I brought the small vial closer to my face I realized there is no way anyone could read that tiny print. I had to let her know I needed to put my reading glasses on and she laughed and said “Well then it seems we’re both in trouble then” and I laughed right along with her. During this entire encounter I never once looked straight at her face, it wasn’t on purpose I just didn’t. Then I put my reading glasses on and began to read her the miniscule print on the back of this tiny bottle. After which she said thank you and I finally turned to look straight at her, what caught my attention was that she had beautiful deep green eyes and some signs of Botox. But that’s not what surprised me, her lipstick was bleeding into the small crevices around her lips, all of her lips. She had a soft pink shade of lipstick and it was running into each small wrinkle of her lips which looked like pink paint running from a canvas into each individual wrinkle outside her mouth. It was very, VERY obvious.
I stood there pondering if I should tell her or not, I mean I didn’t want to embarrass her or make her feel awkward. But she talked to me like we’d been friends for the longest time, everything about this woman was perfect except her lipstick. So I decided to tell her, and she said “Oh damn, I can’t find a good lipstick that doesn’t do that. I’ve tried every, how do you young girls say, hacks and nothing works for me.” My eyes widened at the comment made that she considered me a “young” girl, which made me laugh. I told her that I was far from young and she looked at me as she took a tissue from her purse and wiped away all traces of her lip color. She looked at me up and down, assessing my physical appearance. She then said “Of course you are, you are what? About thirty-five?” as her hand moved the tissue back and forth on her lips.
I was flattered, and laughed and said “No, I’m about to turn fifty actually” as I looked into my basket to straighten a bottle of wine that had fallen over, wine to drown the impending fiftiness away. She said to me that I didn’t look like I was about to turn fifty. She must have sensed that I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of turning fifty so she said “You know, fifty is a good age to start an adventure, it’s also a great time to live your live according to your own rules. Don’t look at turning fifty as a curse or something negative it should be the best time of your life. Fifty now isn’t like fifty in the actual 1950’s, women look younger at fifty now then back then. You don’t look forty-nine, and fifty is only months away and you won’t look it then either so stop worrying.” I tried not to let the tears well up in my eyes because I wish my own mother would impart words of wisdom like this instead of telling me I should cut my hair short now that I’m going to officially be middle-aged. My mother believes that women, all women over fifty should have short hair, and I mean like a ten year old boy type of haircut. I mentioned to her my mom’s idea of women’s haircuts after fifty.
This beautiful lady stuck her hand out to shake mine and introduced herself as Monica. And I introduced myself and she said “Oh, what a lovely name, I’ve always thought of Veronica as such a mysterious and glamorous vixen type of name.” I told her my mom named me after Veronica Lodge from the Archie comics. She laughed and put her hand on my shoulder and said “Well then you should take that and run with it.” Then she said “I hope you have a very happy and wonderful fiftieth birthday this year. Don’t let your moms antiquated idea of what fifty should be cloud what you want your fiftieth decade to turn out like. You make it what you want it to be, follow your own rules, passions, interests but most of all it’s your life so live it the way YOU want to. You have beautiful hair, don’t cut it to appease someone else if you like the way you look.” She told me her mother was a free spirit and believed in her children finding their own sense of self, not following others ideas. She went on to tell me that she raised four children, worked as a secretary at a local school district and then when she retired she decided to work on herself.
She told me she started to walk, then run then began to lift weights to maintain her muscle mass, eat healthier and she admitted to Botox every so often. She said at sixty she underwent a mini-facelift but she stopped there because she didn’t want to be one of those women that “looked” like their entire middle age was devoted to plastic surgery. I smiled and then before she walked away I whispered “If you don’t mine me asking……..” but before I even finished what I was going to say she leaned in close and said “I’m 82” smiled, winked at me and walked away. If I had to guess her age I would say she looked like she was in her early sixties. As she walked away and I felt a bit better about my impending fiftieth birthday, I walked along the aisles of the Target with confidence in my step and like I rocked the go-to jeans I was wearing and not once did I care that I had no makeup on.
As I walked to the self-checkout I began to scan my items and I looked up once and that’s all it took for my self-confidence to deflate like an old party balloon. The high definition cameras at the self-checkouts are horribly intense and make you, make anyone look like the worst version of your physical self. Then after paying for my items I walked to my car thinking, I really do need a face lift after seeing myself in those stupid checkout cameras. As I get into my car I get a phone call from my mother. She never asks how I’m doing, she only calls to complain about her, what or how she feels, what my dad’s done wrong or to tell me someone she knew died. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that I was at Target buying shampoo and other stuff. Then she begins her entire diatribe about why I should cut my hair and how she did when she turned fifty.
Then I thought to myself OH FUCK THIS SHIT and told her that she had cut her hair way before she turned fifty. And then I told she needed to stop telling me to cut my hair and that I didn’t need to ask her permission to do anything in my life. She yelled at me that I was ridiculous, that I wasn’t thirty anymore and that I was never going to find another husband at my age and I should just give in and take care of my parents. My mother is a narcist, she’s always only cared about herself and it’s not easy growing up the daughter of a narcissistic mother. I also believe she has Munchausen’s, making herself sick or acting sick purely for the attention, but that’s another story. What I’ve learned from my therapist is that narcisst’s don’t like push back, and I’ve learned to push back and HARD. Right there in the parking lot of the Target, I let loose on my self-serving mother and told her that I was never going to move in with my parents to take care of them. That I was never going to give up what remained of my life to be their caretaker because they failed to financially plan for their old age (totally another story). I’m not nice with my mother when she gets like this and this happens all the time. I also told her that even if I didn’t find another husband I wasn’t going to put all my hopes and dreams on a man. I can and have lived for twenty one years without a husband, then of course she threw my relationship with Lestat in my face. I told her that I’m glad I saw him for who he was even though it took twenty years rather than stay married to someone like her for fifty only to realize that is was a mistake, of course throwing in it was my dad I was talking about.
I also pulled out the big guns, something Terri my therapist told me to say when it got this way with my mother. Terri said that narcissistic mothers are jealous of their daughters especially when their daughters are accomplished in every aspect of their lives in spite of the down turns or hardships. That’s when I told her that I had a life and didn’t need a husband to make it fulfilling, that I had educated myself, was independent financially and physically and in the process of buying a house on my own. I said that I look good for forty-nine and she looked sixty at forty-nine, was overweight, controlling and miserable.
She stayed annoyingly quiet, all I could hear was her breathing into the phone and the anger she was feeling boil over. Then the coup de gras, I told her that I will cut my hair the day I bury her ass six feet under! Her only defense? She hung up on me, that’s typical mom for you but I’ve lived with her and her narcissistic attitude for forty nine years. My defenses have gotten good, almost emotionally deadly thanks to Terry the Wonder Therapist and I’m not sorry! Now in my mother’s defense (not often I say that shit) she was beautiful when she was young, well at least I thought so.
This is mom (age 22) and her boyfriend who was in the Air Force, his name was Dave, obviously she didn’t wind up marrying him. But kept their picture all these years for some reason.
This is mom age 18
But as I grew up I had this distorted version of her in my mind but never really having an image to compare it to. That is until the Disney movie The Little Mermaid came out, and low and behold Ursula became my mother, boy haircut and all.
So yesterday’s relaxing shopping trip was both encouraging and discouraging. But my take away was/is that a strangers wise words meant more to me than the selfish words from my mother and that is what I’m going to hang onto. I refuse to allow what my mother’s warped version of middle age to rule my thinking, life or self-image. A beautiful stranger gave me some valuable pearls of wisdom and I will not be derailed into thinking that when I turn fifty my life is over, as my mother would have me believe. So now I’ve decided to plan for myself a birthday party for the big 5-0, only the second birthday part of my entire life, and it’s gonna be a hellava party y’all! Even if it’s only me, Rocco and Jerry (neighbors dogs) Charlie my cat and some awesome bloody Mary’s!
This is me, two months ago…..