While dragging my luggage up the main street of a London suburb last month, I noticed something sticking to the backs of my thighs. To my horror, that something was my ass. With each step, I felt the bottom of my bottom alternately peel away and then suction itself back against my legs. It was an interesting sensation noticeable only because of the heat and humidity. As if the awareness that things back there were amiss wasn't enough, I confirmed as much when I accidentally caught sight of my ass last week in the double mirror of a Nordstrom dressing room. I tried not to look—since these things often end badly—but I did, and when I did, I suffered a visual sucker punch. It was just another in a string of reminders that aging is a sneaky bitch.
Not only is my derrière seemingly seduced by gravity, but the flesh on my knees also appears to be flirting with the floor. The skin on my upper arms, in certain light, takes on a crepe-papery quality. When I see myself in photos, I can hardly believe I'm not canine, my image so closely resembles a Shar-Pei. Yes, those folds and creases are adorable on the Chinese import, but on my face? I have to say I'm not persuaded. There's a miniature expressway of pale blue veins ebbing and flowing just above my ankles, gray hairs sprout at the crown of my head faster than my stylist can smack 'em down, I need glasses to see at night and—is that another brown spot on my cheek?
As a child of the '70s, I wasn't raised with repeated applications of sun block. No, my mother coated me in her orange Bain de Soleil® gelée. My grandmother used to spend the entire month of July splayed on the white sand of Newport Beach for eight hours a day, her toes and fingers spread wide so she could get brown at the in-between spaces. “It's better to look good than to feel good,” she used to say, and coming from a woman who my mother recently dubbed “the queen of camel toe,” I'm pretty sure she wasn't being facetious. It was family tradition to baste like turkeys each summer, which seemed innocent enough at the time. Then the dermatologist started slicing off chunks of my skin because I had a basal cell carcinoma. At 30.
And that's just the stuff you can see on the outside. The inside is a fortress of pops and creaks, aches and spasms. My right knee, I am told, will someday need replacing, my breast grew a lump that needed removing and my heart is apparently pumping cottage cheese through my arteries. If one thing alone can make you feel old, it's the letters L-I-P-I-T-O-R scrawled haphazardly across a prescription pad. People! I lift weights! I run! And still. My blood is thicker than Crisco.
But when the real wakeup call came last week, the voice on the other end said, Yo, girl, you ain't listenin'! For the past five months or so, my left foot has been hurting when I wear flat shoes. There's a small bump at the distal joint of my fifth metatarsal and in all of my flats, even my crisp navy-blue Chuck Taylors, that small bump feels like it's being ground to dust with a power sander using 40-grit.
I turned to Google for a self-diagnosis and learned that I have what's called a “bunionette.” Isn't that precious? It sounds like something every trendsetting girl wants to have, should be proud to have and, in fact, pays lots of money and goes to great lengths to have. Putting -ette on the ends of things has a way of making them utterly wantable.
Imagine if high cholesterol were actually called hyperlipidemi-ette. It's way more exotic and sexy. Who could possibly mind a bout of skin cancer-ette? Certainly, not me. Shoot, if crow's feet were wrinkle-ettes? I'd take 17 of the little darlings. You say Sarah Jessica Parker has a bunionette? I have to have one—like, yesterday!
At first, I didn't think the situation was dire. That is until E-Medicine informed me that my bunionette is likely a genetic flaw. The sweet little thing can be surgically removed, but due to the probability that it will make an encore appearance, the recommended treatment is Ibuprofen, ice and—ready for this?—no high heels. Excuse me for a moment, please—*&%#!**!$&%#(&$nlknb*IBNbnf8 8iO@Y&g98u2457@ HBU?®µ?ç´∂okj*##h0w!Sorry. That's what it looks like when I repeatedly slam my head against the keyboard of my laptop.
What is this Greek you speak, E-Medicine? Like I said before, my feet hurt in flat shoes.
It turns out that Jimmy Choos can exacerbate an already deteriorating situation, so I'm supposed to steer clear of them and their knock-off cousins. Now, I'm a fan of the modified gladiator sandal just like the next girl. But no heels? Ever? Not even on special occasions? Um. Yeah, right. And a heroin addict just puts down the needle.
What will I call my column if I can't wear my three-quarter-inch killers? “Backwards & in Rockports”? “Backwards & in Easy Spirits”? No, I know! “Backwards & in Birkenstocks.” Or worse: “Backwards & in Crocs.”
Screw. That. I'd rather down a pint of Jagermeister and chisel my bunionette with a rock drill while eating pickled herring and listening to Neil Diamond.
Look, I can accept that I've reached an age at which I look better in clothes than out of them (this knowledge is actually quite empowering). I will no longer whimper and whine about having to visit a cardiologist at age 38; I will eat nothing but red beans and rice for the rest of my days, if I have to. And I won't tell my trainer to go fuck himself anymore when he piles on the lunges and squats. Sweaty ass sagging has cured me of this.
But asking me to give up the heels is like asking Tom Cruise to denounce Scientology and finally admit, for the love of all things gay, that Katie is just a beard. It's not going to happen. I will go to the mat for my four-inch peep toes, my three-inch Mary Janes. I will not go quietly into Orthotics.
It's better to look good than to feel good. Maybe my grandmother was on to something. Or maybe her pants were too tight. Whatever the case, to honor her memory, I clicked away from E-Medicine and over to Zappos, swallowed my statin and ordered a new pair of stilettos to soothe my aging ego-ette.