Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Monday, July 09, 2007

In which I find myself in the mood to self-improve

I feel the urge ... the urge to surge ... or whatever else might rhyme with "urge" and means radical self-improvement. As surely as fall foliage has me itching for new shoes, summer has always meant the possibility of returning in September as a brand, spanking new & improved, almost unrecognizable version of myself.

I have always eagerly anticipated each summer as an opportunity to drop out of sight of all my fellow students with the purpose of giving myself an extreme makeover. Each summer, I'd make insane to-do lists of all the radical improvements I planned to turn me into the bionic girl of beauty:

* get rid of freckles
* straighten and whiten teeth
* lighten hair
* grow bangs
* lose 15, 20, 25, 40, 50 ... lbs
* get rid of all pimples
* shape eyebrows
* get amazing tan

And so the list would go -- each summer, getting a little longer. New goals were added and old favorites reappeared, inspired by the pages of Seventeen and Teen Beat magazine. My type A Virgo tendencies surfacing, even in those pre-spreadsheet days, I would buy a monthly calendar with the sole purpose of recording my action plan and milestones.

During the summer before sixth grade, I came into possession of the Holy book of self-improvement -- The American Girl Beauty Book. Published in 1964, it had nothing to do with the current historical doll craze. This was 1979, and yet, the book's advice was timeless. The cover featured an illustration of the apple-cheeked, sparkly blue eyed paragon of perfection. She was everything I aspired to be.

Readers were encouraged to continuously strive to be "band-box fresh." I wasn't exactly sure what that entailed, but it sounded like the type of girl who could wear linen trousers all-day-long without a single crease. I added that to my list ... along with practice impeccable posture, smile consistently, and buff fingernails to a healthy sheen.

I saved my paper-route money to buy Porcelana fade cream to fade my freckles, I added Sun-In (and peroxide) to my hair, I brushed my hair 100 strokes a day, and steamed my complexion over pots of boiling rosemary and mint before applying a homemade oatmeal and sugar scrub. I laid in the sun slathered in baby oil and iodine. I invested what seems now like endless hours in improving my appearance, demeanor and bearing ... until about the 4th of July -- which is when I decided that all that primping was boring and highly unlikely to turn me into Morgan Fairchild -- no matter how hard I wished.

At the end of the day, I was (and am) a Tom-boy with an extremely short attention-span. I was a sprinter, not a marathon runner -- full of enthusiasm for the race ... until my feet get tired and I saw an opportunity for a cold beer by the side of the road.

This summer precedes my 40th birthday ... and should be the ultimate make-over opportunity. I should revisit my old friend - the list. I have more freckles than ever, I don't tan, the weight's still there and I can't wear linen trousers for 10 minutes without looking as though I was trampled by a band and I live in a box. On the plus side, my braces are off and I pay the blonde fairy handsomely to keep be on the golden side of silver.

I'd love to find a copy of that book again. I'm sure I'd laugh at the silly, antiquated advice and I'd probably find a couple of classic recommendations worth re-trying.

The best part of being near 40 is ... that I am so OVER wanting to be Morgan Fairchild. Lady Elaine Fairchilde now she's intriguing and I bet she has a far less demanding beauty regimen.

Best quote from Lady Elaine:

"Hey there, Toots. When I want something to happen, I wave my Boomerang Toomerang Soomerang and—it happens."

That beats Porcelana any day!