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While channel surfing the other night, I happened upon my new guilty pleasure: Bridezilla. After Don proposed in June, I immediately bought up every possible bridal magazine, started scouring the net for venues, made our honeymoon reservations (actually, I did that first since we’d already set our minds on the Boston to Bermuda cruise), and started a huge file of dresses, flowers, and cake ideas. At any rate, Don wound up playing Scrabble on his laptop while I laid into these horrible women who were demanding such things as $18,000 first class tickets to Bora Bora (and that was just for the flight!). We actually watched a woman gather her bridesmaids the night before the wedding and give them instructions on the exact shade and type of nail polish (pink on pink french manicures), how they should wear their hair, and (can you get over this?) which ones should stuff their bras to match her silicone prow-of-a-ship bustline.

I spent the evening punctuating the Bridezilla marathon with a lot of “honey, I promise I won’t do’s….” At some point the subject of makeup came up. It had to do with the aforementioned reigning queen of bridal bitches who looked as though she used a trowel every morning to layer her foundation. Well, guess what? Evidently, I come across the same way! Don suggested, as I could feel even the hair on the back of my neck bristle (yes, I’ll take care of that, too), that I have a professional do my makeup on the morning of our wedding.

“Why? What’s wrong with the way I do my makeup? I’ve been doing it myself since I was 16!”

“Yes, but maybe it’s time to do it differently.”

“Why? What’s wrong with it? Is it because you like a lighter shade?”

“I like it lighter.”

“The color?” I persisted, feeling extraordinarily defensive about my carefully applied face.

“No. Ummm…just lighter. Okay, sometimes I can see it caked here,” as he points to the area around his nose, “and sometimes it looks orange.”

GASP! I had visions of old ladies with powdery makeup that laid like a mask against their faces and ended in a significant line pf demarcation along their sagging jaws. All I could think was “get thee to an Estee Lauder counter and fast!” It’s pending, trust me.

The next morning I was in the middle of my daily ablutions when I suddenly stopped and really took a look at my face. Fuck, I’m going to be 44 years old in a scant few weeks. And I look it. For the first time in my life, I look my age. I’m a middle-aged mother with a tramp stamp on her lower back and a nose ring. I got up closer to the mirror. I’d always prided myself on my lack of wrinkles but actually attribute that to the fact that I come with my own built-in fat pads and don’t need my ass fat injected into my face. But there they were, a tiny network of lines criss-crossing the perpetual fluid filled pockets under my heavily charcoaled eyelids. And my laugh lines didn’t disappear when I stopped laughing. Crows feet. My gaze landed on a darker spot on my left cheekbone. Is that? Nooooo…it couldn’t be. Oh. My. God. It’s an age spot. And there’s another one near on my chest! Which really offsets those lovely skin tags on my neck.

So I run naked to the full-length mirror. Not a great idea. I stood there and looked at this stranger looking back at me. 160 lbs. of flubber. Whale blubber. Dubble dubber. My always perky breast were definitely riding a little lower this year. A C-section and hysterectomy had graced me with a pouch that I could raise a Joey in. My ass bore a Cabot logo. Whole curd. My thighs make a swishy sound when they rub together. In warm weather, they actually chafe.

I am very self-critical. I always have been. For the first 2/3 of my life I weighed about 103 lbs. and ate everything in sight and never exercised. Then my metabolism decided to ditch me. Just took off and left me with the luggage to carry around. I could wax on this subject forever but it gets boring and narcissistic to everyone but me. So, here’s the thing. I’m a middle-aged mother. I’m not going to turn back the clock and I don’t have the money to just stop by the plastic surgeon and say “could you just tighten up these jowls, inject a little botox into my perpetually frowning forehead, and slice and dice the folds of my eyes so that I can see a bit better? And perhaps a breast lift. A little liposuction here and there and there and over there and oh yeah, right here. How about a butt lift?” Really, why not just turn myself into a barbie doll?

Because. I am a middle-aged mother. I’m still reasonably attractive and my FHTB (future-husband-to-be) loves me regardless of my lumps and bumps, my wide load, and my orange makeup. So, I’ve got about nine months to get to the gym regularly and at least tighten up some.

In the meantime, I’ll be heading to the Estee Lauder counter. And the dermatologist. It’s the least I can do.