Not By The…

TweezersI’m curled on the sofa, next to my beloved, scratching him behind the ears as he, Spousal Unit and I binge watch “Better Call Saul.” I absent-mindedly rub my chin and a piercing pain shoots through my finger. I bolt up and run for the bathroom.

I’m brushing my teeth, scowling into the mirror at the oversized woman with the bags under her eyes and compact fluorescent light catches an unmistakable glimmer. I drop my toothbrush, foaming from the mouth like Old Yeller and blindly reach for the weapon I know is close at hand.

I feel an ache, a pain that is familiar, particularly from my youth. I rub the underside of my thumb across it and my thumb crests the mound that holds a pimple. I grumble that pimples and wrinkles should not be on the same human at the same time. I tilt my head in front of a mirror to address the issue in the time-honored fashion my foremothers addressed theirs, push my two pointer fingers together and squeeze. Puss ejects, but something remains beneath the skin. Curled.

I curse and growl.

A pox upon you, chin hair!

Bette Davis might have believed that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” but the dame had people. Makeup artists. Managers. Sycophants. I don’t have people. There is nobody who will tell me that I’m growing a silver dagger out of my chin, or simply pluck the offender out whilst applying my war paint for Act 3; Scene 1. I have to be my own guardian of the galaxy for the silver constellation that rises from my skin faster than 45 can rage tweet before 6 a.m.

I don’t remember when the first chin hair erupted from my unblemished face, but for years, I’ve had one soft, curled lock twist away from my neck. When my children were young, I was lunching with them, my neighbor friend and her kids, al fresco on a sunny spring afternoon. We were yabbering away, restraining preschoolers from creating mayhem and solving ALL the world problems, when she furrowed her eyebrows and leaned toward me. She squinted, reach out her hand toward me and spellbound, I sat, unmoving. Unblinking. Her outreached fingers rubbed against my neck and suddenly, a sharp pain jolted through my throat and down my chest.

She victoriously pulled back, clutching something between her thumb and forefinger. “It was shining in the sun,” she proclaimed, proffering a blonde hair toward me like an offering. My eyes watered with pain and I felt like my voice box had been pulled through my skin like the still-beating heart of a Mayan sacrifice. She took my tearful speechlessness for gratitude.

Many years later, Man Child (Boy Child at the time, of course) was suffering the slings and arrows of puberty. His voice squeaked. He was as clumsy and leggy as a newborn deer and hair began sprouting in places he’d never had hair before. I told his dad he needed to explain about the hair thing and I’d deal with the rest. I had books. Spousal Unit handled it as he does most of my requests, by tilting his head, furrowing his eyebrows and walking off in a state of confusion. As a result, one of my favorite memories of that time is standing side by side with my pubescent son as we plucked the hair from our chin.

In my younger, fantasy-laden days, I had believed that by this point of my life, I would be either living on a horse farm in the rolling hills of Kentucky, or on a horse farm beneath the moss-covered oaks of the low country. I would stride about in jodhpurs and riding boots, the halls of my estate lined with framed covers of my best-selling novels and posters from the movies made from those best-selling novels.

I would wear my natural-blonde-only-tinged-with-gray hair in a loose bun at the nape of my neck and my wrinkles would be perfectly placed smile lines at the corners of my eyes. Makeup would only require some mascara for my thick blonde eyelashes and a dab of rose-colored Estee-Lauder lipstick on my smooth and unlined mouth.

I would begin each day with a sun salutation in my light-filled atrium followed by peaceful moments of meditative prayer, focusing on my breath and words – or a mantra — that bring me peace.

Instead, I am sitting in a supremely messy, (albeit pretty cool) house, clad in a literal muumuu (thank you Vermont Country Store), with a horse at somebody else’s awesome farm, (because dear God, do you have any idea how much WORK is involved in that?) dreading the detailing job that will be me getting ready for church.

I began this particular day by rolling over in bed, scratching my chin and slicing my finger on the katana springing from it. I waddled to the bathroom and grabbed the tweezers, my mantra as I breathe deeply in anticipation of the pain, “You m%$#@)*ing a$$*%e!”



Embracing the Buttmunch

IMG_9325Baby it’s cold outside and instead of some smooth-voiced crooner tempting me to stay the night by plying me with alcohol, I’m staring into my light therapy lamp while I pay bills and catch up on correspondence.

Why is my correspondence behind? Well, I’m glad you asked. My computer is ticked at me because I’ve allowed it to become more cluttered than a hoarder’s attic and I may have hit a button that made Outlook flip me the bird and wander off to somebody else’s laptop. I’m not entirely certain how computers work, but I do believe they’re spiteful and the programs within hold grudges worse than one of my cousins.

Because I’m passive aggressive and haven’t been to therapy in a while, I’m not dealing with this issue directly and am doing what most southern mamas do. Giving the troublemaker the cold shoulder and paying attention to the other kid.

It usually works, but as per usual, there’s a price to pay. For instance, Man Child has decided that he’s going to spend Christmas with his gf in Arkansas. I’m pretending to be okay with it, but I’m also planning to snub him ever so slightly. I will give his sister ALL the gifts. Girl Child will get tickets to the Fleetwood Mac concert, a flight to Phoenix to see bf, a sewing machine for fashion classes. And albums. So many albums. Man Child might get some new jeans. I plan to talk about ALL the food my mother will cook and rave about ALL the West Virginia adventures we will have. There will be satisfaction in making him feel left out. The price is that I will miss him with an ache the size of a strip mine.

With equal fervor, I recently decided to ignore Outlook and its bad attitude toward my emails. I recognize that ten thousand unread emails might be a lot, but for heavens’ sakes, being pissy and running that little arrow circle loop thing instead of opening up my email is just immature. I treated Outlook like I’m about to treat my firstborn, ignored it and ran my email through the provider’s website, Xfinity.

Because I had missed email correspondence for a couple of weeks, I had a lot of catching up to do, so one morning, I was huffing and puffing and blowing the little house of things-to-do down when I got a text from Spousal Unit.

“You do realize your emails say they’re from Buttmunches Caldwell, right?”

Um. No. No I don’t. My face got that flushed feeling one gets when one has sent a text fussing about a person to the person about whom one is fussing instead of the person with whom one wants to share the fussing. I quickly looked at who had received my morning emails.

Spousal Unit, of course. The horse vet. The neighborhood group email. Oh Lord. The neighborhood group email. A couple of those folk have been trying to figure out how to get me, my liberal bumper stickers and my little camper too sent to the Redneck Riviera for years. I continue to prove them right that I really don’t belong in that tony neighborhood, whether it’s Man Child’s loud motorized bicycle on the street, or my multi-cultural welcome sign in the front yard.

And now, Buttmunches Caldwell has sent the group an email. I might as well have planted marigolds in inside-out Goodyear tires and placed them next to the mailbox. I should set the washer and dryer on the front porch, if only I had a front porch.

I look at the Xfinity website. Sure enough. Right there in the top right hand corner where my name should be is “Buttmunches Caldwell.” Man Child has struck again. He set the account up for me. I knew that it said Buttmunches on it, but I didn’t know that emails sent from the provider would also say Buttmunches.

The kid is almost 24-years-old and a gnat’s ass away from a degree in Aerospace whatchamajigger, but he’s still twelve. When we asked him to help pressure wash a few things a couple of years ago, including Daisy, he wrote “butts” on our driveway with the pressure washer. Guests walk past it, read “butts,” tilt their heads and walk on. We leave it be because, I dunno. Isn’t that how Banksy got started?

I’ll probably leave Buttmunches on the Xfinity account as well. I will pretend it’s because I admire my son’s creativity and sneakiness. The truth is, I don’t know how to change it and because I’m giving him the cold shoulder over his not being with us over Christmas, it’s awkward to ask for a favor. Instead, I shall embrace my email nomenclature as I have embraced so many things that have come with parenting. Saggy boobs. C-section scars. Horses and their expenses. High blood pressure. I’m good with it all.

Just call me Buttmunches.