Cathy Hamilton: Skin shows ghosts of the past
October 2, 2008
I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but I’m seeing spots and, well, it’s alarming, I tell you!
I’m not talking about those random flecks of light you see after being awake for 20 hours because you inexplicably wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep, and there’s nothing on late-night TV, and you’d think you could find something you haven’t watched before, but NO-O-O-O, so you’re reduced to shopping for shoes online in spite of the recession, and, afterward, even if you get tired again, the guilt of spending money you should be saving has you so wired, you couldn’t fall asleep now for all the anti-depressants on Wall Street! (But, don’t get me started.)
The spots I’m talking about are the ones manifesting themselves on my face and, I swear, there’s a new one every day!
Lately, it’s gotten so bad, I could connect the dots on my mug with a Sharpie and show you exactly where to find the Capricornus constellation in the September night sky.
My dermatologist calls these offensive little markings solar lentigines. Let’s look it up in the old Merriam-Webster, shall we?
Lentigo. n. (lentigines. pl.): a condition marked by small brown patches on the skin, typically in elderly people.
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Elderly people? Exqueeze me?!
No offense to senior citizens but, in my book, 52 is not elderly. 52 is adult, yes. Middle-aged, if you must. But elderly? If you ask me, Merriam-Webster needs a new fact checker – preferably over the age of 30.
According to my doctor, when lentigines start to appear, patients tend to get large numbers of them simultaneously, or one right after another.
“Christmas versus Hanukkah,” he said. “Take your pick.”
Mine is more of a Hanukkah lentigo scenario. Every morning, I bound out of bed (OK, I don’t bound. I’ve never bound in my life. It just sounds better than “drag my sorry keister”) and rush to the bathroom mirror for my daily spot check. The ensuing shrieking wakes my husband, who drags HIS sorry keister to the kitchen to make the coffee.
There on my jaw line, forehead, nose or cheek is a new skin lesion, mocking me with its melanin.
“So you thought baking under that sun lamp before the prom was a GOOD idea, did you?” it chides. “And remember spring break 1975? What’s the matter? You never heard of sunscreen?”
“Listen, you pathetic piece of pigment,” I respond, “we didn’t know about sunscreen! SPF wasn’t part of our vocabulary. We only had zinc oxide. What would you have me do, smear that stuff all over my body? I was white enough as it was. I blended in with the sand, for heaven sake! As for the prom, I think oozing blisters under my seersucker halter dress was punishment enough, thank you very much!
“That’s bull,” the spot counters boldly. “You had Sea & Ski. And Nose Kote. Instead, you and your crazy sun-worshipping friends basted your bodies in baby oil and Crisco – not to mention that disgusting, orange Bain de Soleil – and roasted yourselves like chickens on a spit!”
Drat! I hate being smacked down by a freckle!
The spot’s right, of course. The byproducts of my obsessive-compulsive sunbathing past are as plain as the speckled nose on my face.
But why do I seem to be blotchier than any of my peers? There were far greater offenders in the irresponsible tanning department than me! Why does my face have to resemble “101 Dalmatians?”
“It’s the luck of the draw,” my mother advised. “God gave you pretty blue eyes, blond hair and liver spots. Live with it. And buy a good concealer.”
And that’s just what I did. I bought a cream concealer that perfectly matches my skin tone. I spackle it on every morning, channeling Lady MacBeth: “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”
Alas, I suppose this is yet another concession I’ll have to make in my transition from youthful to elderly. Like when you inexplicably wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep, and there’s nothing on late-night TV, and you’d think you could find something you haven’t watched before, but NO-O-O-O, so you’re reduced to shopping for shoes online:
But don’t get me started.
– Cathy Hamilton is a 52-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author, who blogs every day at BoomerGirl.com.