Saturday, September 10, 2011
Bathroom Monologue: In the Mirror at 30
I lean across the sink and take a close look into myself. How did I get this divot on my nose? I’ve never been attractive. Scratch that – as a boy, I was probably attractive to some pedophiles. But few people since would have given me a thumbs-up.
My mind steeps in culture. So when I look into the mirror, I think what other people might think. Elderly folks pining for youth. Women who aren’t old wishing they weren’t old. Men reflecting on athletic teenhoods. My guts tense and I try to tease up regret that I’ve aged.
But I’m a man of parts and evidence. I see things.
This guy’s got more moles than he used to, and maybe even more freckles. Pot marks. He needs a shave. When he squints, he spooks up a murder of crows feet.
His face is fatter. He’s lost sixty pounds in a few years, but it’s fatter than it was a kid. He could regret that. But, so what? He smiles more easily than he did as a teen. I like the way that face spreads with his smiles.
He’s trained that smile on more people this week than he did in many months of his earlier life. He’s made so many more people laugh. He’s been there at crucial moments for people he thinks are better than him. He’s suffered what others insist is too much, and he might just be right in suspecting he complains less than they all do.
I see an affable, durable man that emerged from a bitter boy. There’s shame that I feel no nostalgia. This is another social ritual I fail to share. If only I were more like others – if only I’d been an idyllic boy, or could fool myself into believing I had been, I could despair in lost innocence and spent privilege.
Instead, I’ll drive to the store, buy whatever I want, and cook some dinner. Three things the bitter boy couldn’t do. As I eat, I’ll entertain myself thinking how he’d mock the man who now smiles in the mirror.