Tuesday, November 17, 2009

“Look in a mirror and one thing's sure; what we see is not who we are.” Richard Bach

Brushing your teeth shouldn’t be a mine field. It should, in fact, have no emotion attached to it at all. Tooth paste on the brush. Brush up. Brush down. Brush side to side. Brush the back teeth. Brush the tongue to avoid halitosis. Be thorough because anything worth doing is worth doing well…especially when it helps you keep your teeth. Teeth are important. Important but not an emotional battle ground. No, brushing your teeth shouldn’t make you reevaluate your life. And it wouldn’t either if it weren’t for that damn mirror.

There it is. Morning and night . Every morning and every night of your entire life staring back at you. Showing you every change. Whether you want to see it or not. And, as you get older and your mother starts leaving bridal magazines around the house when you drop by and suggesting names for your future imaginary children while knowing full well that you don’t know, in point of fact have never known, any man you’d like to spend a month with let alone a life, the mirror can be a friend and a foe.

It can be a bastard setting you up for the big fall when you come home at two o’clock in the morning when your face is showing the wear and tear of a good time. Mascara streaks. Lipstick fades. Powder settles. And then, Mr. Demille, you truly think your mother is right. You’re not getting any younger. You are, as it happens, getting older every minute. This minute, this one right now, is the oldest you’ve ever been…until this minute…and then, of course, there’s this one. Well, it may be better than the alternative but it doesn’t feel so hot at the time. The mirror isn’t to blame. It’s just a reflection of what is. But, as every woman knows, there are good mirrors and bad mirrors. Mirrors that flatter and mirrors that solidly tell what may be the truth and may be a grave insult. And none of the good mirrors are on duty at two o’clock. You think the wicked witch in the fairy tale must have had a two o’clock mirror. You brush your teeth and you go to bed.

In the morning a mirror can be magic. It can reassure you that despite the sins of last night or a lifetime that you still look pretty damn good in the morning without makeup or even a hair brush. You wish you could take credit for it but you know that that’s all down to genetics. When do you ever remember to moisturize? You don’t. And, sin of sins, you usually, despite purchasing all manner of expensive facial cleansers, wash your face with regular soap. The horror! The only contribution you make is SPF protection on a semi-regular basis. So, clearly, the good moments have nothing to do with you and may, now that you think about it, be the mirror giving not you but your mother a compliment since she’s the one who gave you the good genes to begin with. But a compliment is a compliment and you’ll take it. And, after the two o’clock mirror of the night before when you thought that you would have to immediately check yourself into an upscale “spa” in Mexico City for a quick “freshening up” the eleven o’clock mirror is your pal and your coconspirator. It assures you that no matter what anybody might say, including yourself, you are not in fact the hag of the western world. That there are still good times to come and to be had. And that, if the Lord be willin’ and the crick don’t rise, you’ll have the face you see staring back at you for a good five more years at least. You believe in genetics and SPF. You can face the world. But first you brush your teeth because fresh breath is important.