You used to be a cautionary tale. Something that happened to other people. Something that my mother warned me about. “Squinting like that will give you wrinkles,” she’d say, slathering herself with yet another cream to prevent your untimely arrival.
Now that I’m in my mid-30s, here we are, face to face. Or more accurately, you’re on my face. At first, I was in denial, blaming various things. Wow, look at the bad lighting in here! Gee, my pillow keeps leaving these terrible creases in my skin! Man, this new concealer really looks streaky! But as time went on, I began to realize that not only had you showed up, you were here to stay. Settling in. Getting comfortable.
You could have called me first. Like, “Hey, how’s it going. Would you mind if we, like, camped out around your eyes? Maybe stretched out across your forehead? And kinda, you know, make your lips look like a butthole?” And I would have given you a polite but firm “hell no” and continued to look 25. But there was no warning that you’d be invading my once-taut skin. There was just a subtle creeping, like an ex on a Facebook page. Before I knew it, you had taken up residence in places I didn’t even realize would wrinkle.
So yeah, maybe I used to oil myself up and sit in the sun. But I know better now. I’ve learned from my mistakes. Must you penalize me for the stuff I did eons ago when I was young and stupid? I mean, my liver hasn’t turned on me for anything I did in college. Just saying.
I’ve tried a ton of stuff to keep you at bay. I vowed to walk around completely expressionless all the time — not a raised eyebrow or a crinkled nose to further your existence — but I stepped in dog poop within 20 minutes and realized just how impractical that was. I buy products that promise to buff and peel and file you away, products that promise to plump you up until you’re nonexistent, and products that promise to make it look like you were never there in the first place, like some kind of dermatologic hitman. I try Pinterest hacks like Scotch tape and dissolved aspirin (but never at the same time, because that would just be weird).
I’ve even attempted to make peace with your presence by calling you nice things like “smile lines” instead of “crow’s feet,” and telling myself that I should be proud of you, like you’re some kind of little achievement badges decorating my face. “These smile lines are reminders of all the times I’ve been happy!” I croon into the mirror in a faux-confident tone, hoping that saying it out loud will actually make me believe it. But if the smile lines mean I’m happy a lot, then these lines on my forehead mean I walk around looking perpetually surprised, and the ones around my lips would indicate they’re pursed more often than Donald Trump’s. Try as I might, I can never trick myself into being stoked about any of it.
I’m sure a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon could help persuade you to leave. But who am I kidding? You’re going to stick around. My heart says Botox, but my budget says only Walmart. So I’ll continue to bombard you with drugstore brand wrinkle removers and wacky home remedies, apply an inch of sunscreen before I venture into the sun, and give myself fruitless pep talks about how your presence makes me look “mature” and “dignified.”
I know you’re inevitable, Wrinkles. I know I should be grateful to have even gotten old enough to worry about you. But damn. Couldn’t you have waited until I’m, like, old enough for a senior citizen discount at restaurants? Or at least until I’m done getting pimples? Maybe I’ll start telling people I’m 60. Then I’ll look really, really good for my age.
The bottom line is, I have a lot of time left with my face and I’d very much appreciate it if you’d take your job “decorating” it a little less seriously. So go on, have a break, and come back in a couple decades, mmkay? I’ll be more receptive to your presence then.