Some days I look in the mirror and I give myself the ol’ double gun fingers. It’s smiles all around. Who’s that young guy? I’m like Travolta in “Face/Off”. Ooo-eee, you good lookin’!
There are far more days, though, when I look 100. I’m shocked at how old I’ve gotten in my reflection. I still look like me, just more ancient than I remember before haphazardly glancing at the mirror. Ugh. Father Time, how could you let this happen?
Then, there are those other days. There are the days when I don’t look young and I don’t look old. Instead, I look like a cross between a shrunken head and a poached egg. The kind of day when I stop short, gawk at the monster staring back, and immediately think, “Who has seen me today? Did I talk to people like this? What is wrong with my face? Am I freakin’ melting?!”
Today is a poached egg shrunken head day.
Look at me. I’ve succumb to the big joke of the universe. You know the one. That’s where we all call teens “zit-faced”. So, you amble through your awkward teenage days and Clearisil nights looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. You pray for old age to come because one day, you’ll be grown and all those zits will be distant memories. Right?
Wrong. They never go away. Surprise. Pimples aren’t exclusive to your teens. That’s just when the little buggers start. They only seem to disappear as you get older because they need to make room for the wrinkles. That’s right. Wrinkles and zits. You get them together. Damn you, face.
You can’t help but poke at every blemish in an attempt to chase each one away. That never works, though. Instead, you take the smallest of imperfections – ones that no one but you yourself will notice – and turn them into gaping head wounds. You go from a dot, the size of a needle tip, to a giant bleeding hole that takes up most of your monstrous mug. Maybe no one will notice, right? Wrong. Everyone notices. Wouldn’t you, you judgmental shrunken-headed wrinkle zit?
Hold on, are my eyes yellow? What is that? Why are they yellow? I got a good five hours sleep last night. Wait..four. Four hours. Maybe if I put my fingers underneath them and pull the skin all the way down, I’ll see that there’s still some white in there. Nope. More yellow. Should I Google that? Is that normal? Yellow eyes like a Lizard person? I’m not Googling it. I’d rather have my yellow-eyed death be a surprise. Man. That whole area is just a mess overall. Wait a minute…
What the hell?! Why are my eyebrows like that?! When was the last time I did anything to groom those things?! I look like Teen Wolf. How can I go out into public like this?! I haven’t plucked these things since last year and now I’m trying to hold conversations with people who surely are disgusted with this mess of a face shoved in front of theirs. This is not good. I have to clean these squashed caterpillars up.
I’ll pluck this one out here. Pluck. OK. Good.
That one too. Pluck. Nice. Ow! That’s skin! That’s thin eyelid skin! What the heck is wrong with me? Stop.
One more. Ow. Ow! Oh man. What is this? Gray? Why do I have gray eyebrow hairs? And why are they harder and straighter than the brown ones? You’d think that the gray hair would just be uncolored regular hair, right? Again, wrong. They’re like bleached bristles on a horse brush plucked from a stable and shoved into my head. Once you see one, you see them all. They’re all over the place. Ol’ shrunken-headed yellow-eyed horse-bristled wrinkled-zit. Is there anything I’m happy with today?
I hate my nose. I hate my chin. I hate everything I see. What is that smudge on my cheek? How do I have a smudge on my cheek? Why doesn’t move when I turn my head?
Oh. That’s a smudge on the mirror.
How dirty is this mirror?! People come over my house and use the bathroom and look into this thing? When was the last time I cleaned it? This house is falling apart worse than my face. I just came in here to brush my teeth and now my whole world is falling apart.
Oh no. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t look at your teeth. Don’t open your mouth and…
Ah! These things look worse than my eyes! I’m in here pulling my face apart when the real horror is hiding behind my lips! What have I become? I’m a monster! A monster! It’s nine in the morning and my day is already ruined.
I know they say that beauty is only skin deep and how it’s about what’s inside that matters. Truth be told, though, on days like this, I don’t feel so great on the inside either. In fact, that uneasy internal feeling almost definitely affects how I see things above it. Either way, that’s a deeper conversation for a deeper day. Sometimes being superficially disgusted with yourself is easier to handle than doing any deep dives below the surface. Today is one of those days. The melting poached egghead in this dirty bathroom mirror provides an ironically welcome distraction.
That’s it. I’m not looking at myself ever again. I’m done. The world can deal with my monstrosity of head. They’re mostly polite. No one will say anything, right? They haven’t yet and they look at me every day.
So I go out among the world. Self-conscious and ready to crawl into a hole. Then, someone says it.
Hey, man. You’re looking sharp today.
And I scream.
Shut up! I hate you!
Everyone stares. Babies cry. I run home and go back to bed. Way to go, psycho-boy. Let’s try this again tomorrow.